Grilling is one of the best ways to prepare Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice fish and seafood in the summertime, but it also can be intimidating. Fish is so delicate that a few wrong steps can cause the fish to fall apart
Two of the top tips are to touch the fish no more than necessary – let the direct heat of the grill do the work for you – and to start with a clean surface lightly sprayed with Hy-Vee non-stick cooking spray.
Wild salmon, which is coming into our stores fresh from Alaska for the next couple of months, is great on the grill. So are halibut steaks, swordfish and tuna. Other fish can work well with some extra precaution, and I’ll get to that later.
A popular way to prepare wild salmon is to cook it on cedar planks, which adds nice smokiness and a cedar flavor to the fish. To plank salmon, just soak the plank in water overnight.
Or, if you want to infuse some other flavors, try soaking the planks in smoked porter beer or an oaked chardonnay.
If you don’t want to take a chance of the fish sticking, cook it en papillote, which literally means cooking “in paper.” If you’re using parchment paper, as the French recommend, use medium-high indirect heat. Add a little white wine, some fresh herbs and vegetables or citrus fruits, like lemon, orange or grapefruit, and you’ve got a meal in a bag.
A foil pouch also works. Just make sure you poke a few holes in the foil to allow the smoke flavor to infuse.
Marinate it in alcohol:
An alcohol marinade can release a new flavor sensation, but be sure not to overdo it. Alcohol is great for tenderizing meat, so don’t overdo it – 30 minutes tops, just long enough to infuse the flavor. If the fish is in the marinade too long, especially if it’s an acidic marinade, the proteins can begin to coagulate and the cooking process can begin.
Some combinations to think about include tequila-lime scallops, bourbon and brown sugar-glazed wild salmon, whiskey and brown sugar-glazed wild salmon, and vodka and wild salmon.
Skin on or off:
This is a matter of preference. If you’re going to remove the skin, start with the presentation side down on the grill, and flip it only one time, after about 4 minutes.
If you’re going to leave the skin on, that’s the presentation side and there’s no need to flip it. Just make sure the skin is crispy and not mushy.
Again, you don’t want to mess with it too much. It will release itself from the grill when it is cooked. Moving it around on the grill tears up the flesh.
Catfish, tilapia and some of the more delicate white fishes generally don’t hold up well during grilling, but you can still enjoy them. Hy-Vee sells stainless steel fish baskets that will hold them together.
Whole rainbow trout also works well. Score the skin on both sides and slip citrus and herbs under the skin to add more flavor. Some of the herbs that work well include thyme, tarragon, fennel, dill, rosemary and oregano.
Don’t ever do this:
One thing you never want to do is re-cook shrimp. You can reheat it briefly – 30 seconds tops – but any more than that will make it a rubbery mess.
A good way to grill raw, deveined shrimp is to skewer, add some lemon and pepper and grill a couple of minutes on each side. Be sure you use some of the larger shrimp available in our seafood cases. Shrimp is not a Responsible Choice at Hy-Vee yet, but we’re working on it and will have shrimp that meets our environmental standards by the end of 2015.
Don’t overcook it:
One of the common mistakes in grilling fish is to overcook it. Here’s a guide:
Fillets (tilapia and catfish): 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness, medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes
Firm steaks (halibut, wild salmon, tuna, swordfish): 1-inch thickness, medium to medium-high heat, 10 minutes
Lobster tails: 8- to 10-ounce, medium heat, 8 to 10 minutes
Raw shrimp (not a Responsible Choice): 21- to 25-count per pound, medium heat, 4 to 5 minutes; under 10-count per pound, 6 to 8 minutes, medium heat
Farmed scallops, clams, mussels: under 12 per pound, medium heat, 4 to 5 minutes