Do’s & Don’ts of Grilling Seafood
Good seafood and some good grilling tips go a long way…
Do not fear the grill! It is the perfect cooking vessel for seafood. There are just a few tips and tricks (o’the trade) that’ll put any nerves at ease. And! Result in delicious, perfectly cooked seafood every time.
This quick guide maps out the most common don’ts, the ‘to be avoided’ mistakes and the most forgotten do’s, those little ‘whoopsies’ or those ‘wish I knew that’s’…Let’s go shopping with these 12 tips for grilling seafood, from handling to prep and more!
Do…Prep the Grill Grates
This is a biggie! Prepping the grill grates before you grill is a great way to reduce any bothersome sticking.
To prep your grates, be sure to clean off any crud that may have been missed from your last grilling session (a wire mesh brush works wonders). Once the old crud is thoroughly scrubbed, soak an old clean rag or paper towels in oil (vegetable, peanut or canola will do) and lightly rub over the grates. This will give you a lil’ non-stick protection before you grill.
Do…Have Plenty of Charcoal or Propane
Double check your supply before starting out. Nothing pains more than running out of fuel halfway through cooking.
Do…Place Thicker Cuts over Direct Heat
Thicker cuts can take the heat much better than more delicate pieces or fillets. Direct heat simply means cooking right over the hot coals or heat source, which is mostly what grilling is about. There are ways of grilling the delicate bits, we’ll get to that in the next ‘to-do’.
Thicker portions, and this includes; tuna, swordfish, salmon and sea bass, as well as some shellfish, like; scallops, shrimp, shell-on lobster tails and crab legs, tend to be firmer and less likely to flake, break or overcook while grilling.
Do…Use a Plank or Pouch for Thin Pieces
Thinner or more delicate seafood cuts need a little barrier between themselves and the flame. These cuts can include; trout, flounder, tilapia, rockfish or cod.
Best to either cook these away from the direct heat (either push the coals off to one side, or turn off one side of a gas grill), planked or in a foil pouch.
Do…There’s a Spatula for that…
Those grill utensils, that are often gifted to you when you purchase a grill, are…well… not my favorite. Big, bulky…meh.
Best to use the right tools for grilling seafood. And, specifically, a fish spatula for grilling fish fillets.
Do…Use a Thermometer
Yes! Probably one of the best tools for grilling is an instant read digital thermometer! This little gem will be your greatest defense against over cooking (or under cooking).
Seafood should only be cooked to 145°F. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the fish or shellfish to get your reading.
Smaller or thinner cuts can be a little tricky. You can stack two fillets on top of one another with the thermometer probe sandwiched in-between to check for doneness.
Don’t…Cook on a ‘Cold’ Grill
We’ve all been a little anxious to get going on the grill, but patience pays off! Make sure you properly preheat your grill before adding your seafood. Get those coals glowing hot and let your gas grill heat up (at least 350°F) before cooking.
A properly heated grill will allow for a more even cook and keep foods from sticking.
Don’t…Cover the Grill
This one might surprise a few, but, keep the lid off while grilling seafood. This way you can look for flare-ups (bad), adjust the temperature immediately, if needed, and monitor more closely (difficult to keep an eye on things if you can’t see it).
Keep the water bottles away! Do not spray! Dousing your grill with water only screws with the temperature (again, making cooking uneven and unpredictable) as well as kicking up all sorts of ash and debris (not a delicious ingredient).
If you see flare-ups, just relocate the seafood to another part of the grill and adjust the temperature (or move the coals).
Squuueeeek! Any chef will cringe a little when they see someone pressing down on their grilling goods. It will cook, we promise. All pressing does is release those vital moisturizing juices, resulting in dried out seafood. Do not press!
Don’t…Use Charcoal Briquettes with Lighter Fluid
If you are a fan of the charcoal grill (I most certainly am), then steer clear of the lighter fluid or lighter fluid soaked briquettes. These chemicals release some pretty noxious fumes that can impart pretty gross flavors to your seafood. Use natural wood charcoal and invest in a starter chimney, to prep those coals.
Don’t…Go Straight from the Fridge to the Grill
An interesting ‘don’t’ here, keeping the cold seafood off the grill. Fridge temperature seafood almost goes into a little shock when you put it directly on the grill, purging moisture and, potentially, taking longer to cook or not cooking evenly.
Let the seafood come to room temperature before grilling, just 20 minutes or so.
Ready to get Grilling?
Is it time to stock up seafood? All the delicious fish and shellfish listed in this article are available at our online store! Click the link to explore more…
Do you have a seafood grilling tip that you would like to share? We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to cook our seafood. Post your images or recipes on any of our social pages. We can be found @cameronsseafoodonline on Instagram or @CameronsSeafood on Facebook.
About the author
Patterson Watkins is a professional chef with over 17 years of experience. With a robust career in restaurants, contract dining and catering (including 4 Summer Olympic posts preparing food for the athletes!) Patterson joined the Cameron's Seafood team at the end of 2018 to concoct some delicious recipes with our premium seafood items as the centerpiece.