Grilled fish is indeed a delicacy but grilling seafood and fish can sometimes become intimidating. Despite a number of tries and several variations, many of us end up either over cooking or undercooking the fish. Many others can’t seem to get the fish off the grill in one single piece.
Grilling gives not just a nice smoky flavor to the fish but also a crispy texture to fish and seafood that is a culinary delight. Grilling works best with fish such as shell fish and fin fish. Meatier and firm fleshed fish cut into large steaks or smaller fillets with the skin grill well. Smaller and flakier fish can also be grilled to perfection by using a grill basket.
What are grill baskets?
A grill basket is a non stick wire cage that has a top and bottom and also a rather long removable easy to handle basket. This basket can be easily flipped and removed from the grill.
A walk through on how to grill fish and seafood on a grill
Prepare the seafood that you wish to barbecue by lightly spraying both the sides with vegetable oil or even olive oil. Spraying instead of brushing or rubbing the oil in with your bare hands avoids contact with the raw food and prevents cross contamination with other meat that you may be cooking.
After oiling, season the seafood with salt and pepper. You may also marinate the fish in your favorite herbs and spices to add to the flavor of the dish. Remember to shake off any extra marinade to prevent flare ups on the grill.
In case you are using a gas grill, preheat it for about ten minutes on the highest setting with its lid kept closed. In case of charcoal grills allow for the fire to burn down such that you can comfortably hover your hands above the grill for about three seconds, this lets you know the grill is at the right temperature to barbecue your fish to perfection. At the correct cooking temperature you will see the coal glowing softly with a light layer of ash beginning to settle over it.
Clean the grates thoroughly by first scraping it using a grill brush followed by a wipe down with paper towels lightly dipped in oil. A very hot and a very clean grill will prevent your seafood or fish from sticking onto the grill.
While fin fish, scallops, and shrimps can be directly placed over the hot grill and cooked until opaque, smaller varieties are best cooked in a grill basket. You may also try cooking smaller fish on water soaked skewers, this makes it easier to turn the fish. Mussels, clams, shell fish and oysters can also go directly onto the grill after a dip in the marinade. Allow them to cook on the grill for no longer than 5 minutes or until their shells open up. Those that do not open up in five minutes are best discarded.
While grilling fish or seafood, keep in mind that whole fish can take up to ten minutes to be fully grilled for each inch of thickness. While grilling smaller fillets, start with making a few shallow slashes through the fish’s skin so that the fillet does not curl up when the skin gets cooked.
To summarize here are a few tips that are sure to help you while barbecuing fish and seafood-
· The grill must be clean. In order to clean the grill thoroughly, pre heat it and scrub off any food particles stuck to it.
· Oil the grill well before use. Dip a paper towel into cooking oil and use tong to rub the towel onto the grill grates.
· Use good and fresh seafood.
· If you do not want to sacrifice half your seafood meal to the grill, oil the seafood or fish which will help prevent sticking. Once you put the food on the grill, do not touch it. While the fish may tend to stick initially it will release once a layer of crust develops.
· If you are vary about trying fish, start with shrimps or even scallops on skewers, then slowly graduate to fish steaks. You can use foil packets for the more delicate fish. Cook the food 75 percent on one side before flipping it over to cook the remaining 25 percent to perfection.
· Keep the skin on when you grill. This will help keep the fillet together and also does not dry out the fish. Always grill skin side down. Use a spatula dipped in butter before you try to remove seafood on the grill.
· Use oil such as plain olive oil, grape seed oil, or peanut oil while barbecuing fish
· Try and avoid using sugary marinades as these burn to produce a bitter taste
· Use a wide and thin spatula for flipping the fish.
While these tips are sure to help you barbecue some great seafood delicacies, some experimentation and hands on experience will make you better with each try at the grill!