Most people think of hot dogs, burgers and grilled veggies when they envision a backyard barbecue. But did you know that seafood can be just as good (or better!) than other grilling staples? While some people may be intimidated by the idea of grilling seafood – thinking of it as too delicate or getting easily stuck on the grate – the truth is that seafood is a great option for your next barbecue. As you celebrate National Grilling Month this July and all summer long, consider adding seafood to your grill for a quick, healthy and tasty option.
The first thing to consider when grilling seafood is what type of seafood to use. Since seafood generally cooks quickly, it’s best to grill with thick (>1 inch) fillets, shell-on shrimp, or even small whole fish, like mackerel, if you plan on putting the fish directly on the grate. However, this does not mean that smaller fillets cannot be grilled. Wrapping in foil, corn husks, or banana leaves, as well as placing fish on cedar planks are all great ways to help prevent overcooking and keep smaller fillets tender.
Once you know what seafood you’re going to use, you can set yourself up for success on the grill by using the indirect heat method to ensure your food is cooked on both sides but still tender. Indirect heat means that you create one high-heat area and one low-heat area on your grill; you can do this by placing coals on one side of the kettle or preheating both sides of a gas grill, then turning one side off.
To cook with indirect heat, sear the fish on the high-heat area for about 2 minutes (with skin down if you are using skin-on fillets), then flip and transfer to the low-heat area to finish cooking. The rule of thumb for cooking fish fillets is 10 minutes per inch of thickness or until it flakes apart under gentle pressure, so if you have a one-inch fillet you should sear for 2 minutes and then cook over low heat for about 8 minutes. Chef Barton Seaver gives a full explanation of the indirect cooking method here.
Now that you’re fully equipped to master seafood grilling, the only thing left to do is decide what dish to make first! These Grilled Skin-on Fillets with Marinated Citrus Salad from Barton Seaver use the indirect grilling method and are a great way to get the whole family outside and enjoy seafood throughout the summer!
Grilled Skin-on Fish Fillets With Marinated Citrus Salad
This recipe works well with all types of fish fillets including Alaskan pollock, barramundi, salmon and trout.
All you need:
2 oranges, peeled and segmented
1 lemon, peeled and segmented
1 serrano chile, very thinly sliced
1 shallot, very thinly sliced
4 skin-on fish fillets
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp good red wine vinegar
All you do:
- Combine orange and lemon segments, chile, shallot, and salt to taste in a colander. Let mixture sit while you cook the fish.
- Prepare a charcoal grill, concentrating the hot coals onto one side of the kettle. Season fillets with salt. Place the fish, skin-side down, over the hottest part of the fire, leaving them there until the edges begin to crisp, about 2 minutes. To finish cooking, rotate the grill grate so the fish sits opposite the hot coals. Cover the grill and continue to cook for another 8-10 minutes, until fish is cooked through.
- Transfer the draining citrus mixture into a bowl and gently stir in vinegar and olive oil. Use a fish spatula to remove the fish from the grill and place them on a warm plate. Serve the fillets immediately with the marinated citrus salad.