Living in the south, my husband and I grill out almost year round. However, once the weather gets warm, we definitely start looking for more meals to cook on the grill. Having grown up in New England, I am a passionate seafood lover. We had to learn a few seafood grilling tips very early on once we got our own grill. Seafood is incredibly healthy. Grilling is much healthier than batter frying your fish fillets. If you are looking to eat healthier, throwing your seafood on the grill is a great way to lighten up your meals. Not to mention the fact that grilled seafood just tastes delicious! Learning how to grill seafood isn’t hard and will help you create a mouthwatering meal straight from the sea every time you cook.
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Seafood Grilling Tips
There are a lot of things to consider before you toss your seafood on the grill. What type of fish is best for grilling? Should you marinate your fish or just throw it on as is? And how in the heck do you keep things from falling through the grate of your grill? Here are a few tips on how to grill seafood that will make the whole process a little bit easier!
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Choose the best seafood:
Choosing the best seafood for the grill isn’t always easy. I am passionate about sustainable seafood, which limits the choices I have when it comes to shopping. I choose shrimp that is wild caught and sourced from the USA. Personally, I prefer wild caught salmon rather than farm-raised. There are several species of fish that should be avoided completely due to overfishing and horrible methods of catching them. For the best seafood for grilling with the smallest environmental impact, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.
Thick cuts of fish like tuna and salmon steaks can be cooked directly on the grill. Thinner cuts of fish like fillets should be cooked in foil packets or placed on a fish grilling rack that has been brushed with olive oil.
Add flavor with smoke:
Seafood tastes delicious without any breading, sauces, or heavy marinades. It is a very light flavor but I really enjoy adding a bit of smokiness to it. You can add smoke to your grilled foods without any artificial ‘liquid smoke’ ingredients. Use grilling wood chips that you have soaked for 30 minutes or so in water. You can also grill your fillets of fish on cedar grill planks which means you don’t need any sort of grill basket at all to keep it from falling through the grate.
Prevent Seafood From Sticking:
The real challenge when it comes to how to grill seafood is how do you keep your food from sticking to the grill. This is one of the most important seafood grilling tips I can provide:
- Your seafood should be dry when it goes on the grill
- Grill grates or fish rack should be well oiled. Olive oil works well.
- Choose the right heat, which is usually medium high.
You will want to have a wide-bottomed, non-stick grill spatula to really make flipping your seafood easier. Add a light coating of olive oil to that as well just in case!
Prep your grill before grilling seafood:
You want to start with a clean grill grate before grilling seafood. If there is food stuck to your grill grate, turn the heat on high, cover the grate with aluminum foil and close the lid for 10 minutes or so. This will help burn off some of the crustiness on the grate. Once the grates look cleanish, turn down the heat and scrape the grates with a grill brush. Make sure to brush them with oil before putting on your seafood, unless you are using a fish grilling basket or aluminum foil packets. Once you are done cooking, don’t forget to clean the grate off again. That way, you won’t have to do it before you cook next time!
Prep your fish:
Knowing how to grill seafood is only one step in creating a delicious meal from your grill. Choosing the right seasonings for your seafood is equally important. You want to make sure you include a little bit of oil in your fish preparation. Either add a little bit of oil to a marinade or just brush some olive oil on your fish before grilling. The oil will help keep your fish from sticking to the grate. Yes, it adds a few calories but use something healthy like olive oil if you are really concerned about that. I love adding sesame oil to an Asian marinade or just use an Italian salad dressing if you are in a hurry.
Flip it once:
Once of the most important seafood grilling tips to remember is that you don’t want to mess with your fish a lot once you put it on the grill. Set it down on the grate or fish grilling tray and leave it alone. If you are cooking a fish with a skin on it, leave it alone until the skin looks crispy. Use the edge of the spatula to test to see if the fish is flaky enough to turn over yet. Check regularly, though. Fish and other types of seafood cook very quickly and you don’t want to overcook them. If you are cooking shrimp, I like to put them on wooden grill skewers to make them easier to flip. If you love to grill shrimp, check out my recipe for Grilled Shrimp with Cheddar Grits.
Always remember to grill with your lid down. You just add grilling time when you leave the lid up. Don’t waste the heat by standing by your grill staring at your food the whole time. Grilling time will be about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
With these easy seafood grilling tips, you are well on your way to a simple yet flavorful meal! Make sure your seafood is fresh when you buy it…if the fish department of your local store smells fishy, go somewhere else. Fresh fish should NOT smell overly fishy!
Have any other tips on how to grill seafood?
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.