How to Grill Seafood Perfectly Every Time
No beach vacation is complete without great seafood and everyone knows the best way to prepare fresh seafood is by grilling it to perfection. Fire it up, because today we are going to share everything you need to know to grill seafood like a pro right here on Oak Island. Of course, we will also share some tips and tricks to help you buy the freshest seafood from our local vendors. Soon you'll be grilling and thrilling your family with the best seafood Oak Island has to offer. Let's get started!
Tips for buying great fresh seafood.
No matter how great a recipe sounds, or how expensive a grill you have...in the end, the quality of the seafood is what’s going to make or break your dish. Luckily, here on Oak Island, you don't have go very far to find amazing seafood. This is the time to splurge a little on the best and freshest seafood you can find. Here are a few helpful tips while shopping to ensure you get the best seafood.
Shrimp- Avoiding dry dull shrimp is all about locking in the moisture. To do this, buy fresh whole shrimp with the head still attached. If those are not available, by frozen shrimp with the shell still intact. The shell, like the head, helps the shrimp retain its moisture. A little biology; shrimp rot quickly, so fresh or frozen is the only way to go when buying shrimp. If it looks old, then it is old.
Whole Fish- Grilling whole fish one of the best and tastiest ways to enjoy a great catch. When shopping for a whole fish, look for clear bright eyes and clean metallic looking skin. Skin which has a dull color is a bad sign. Fish should never smell, well fishy! Fresh fish smells almost briny or like clean water. Inspect the gills as well. They should be bright red, if they look like a brick color, this is a sign the fish is not fresh.
Shell Fish- Grilling Oysters is simple and always delicious.However, with any shellfish, there are a few things you must look for. Shellfish are sold alive and should behave that way. For example, you can place clams and mussels on the counter and tap the top of them. Sit back for a moment, if they are fresh they should close tighter than they did prior to being tapped. After cooking if they don't open then toss them as they're dead.
Fish Fillets- Look for a nice clean fillet absent of any milky looking fluid. The fillet should not smell fishy. If it does, move on because the fish is of poor quality. If allowed, gently push your finger into the fillet. In high-quality fresh fish fillets, the indentation will disappear.
Lobster and Crab- Lobster tail with a little butter is one of those delicious beach treats we all daydream about. Lobster and crab are best purchased fresh and alive. In the tank, lobster and crab should be active and be moving around. If they appear lethargic they are probably of poor quality. Lobster, for example, starve themselves in captivity. If you're not careful, after cooking you'll have a lobster with very little meat. Crab can also be purchased frozen (be sure to ask when they were caught and frozen).
The first step when grilling any seafood is to start off with a clean grill. All those little bits of food and carbon build-up may be badges of honor of past meals, but a dirty grill will cause your seafood to have an acrid and foul taste.
Whether you use charcoal or gas grills, both work well for cooking seafood. Propane is a bit easier for most people to use. Temperatures and clean up are also easier with gas grills. Here are ten tips to help you make sure that your grill is set up perfectly.
Top Ten Tips To Set Your Grill Up Right
Clean Grills are a must. Start by making sure you have a clean grate. Use a strong wire brush to loosen and remove old grit, food, or carbon build up. Follow this up with a damp rag.
Careful of Wire Brushes. After using the wire brush, take a wet cloth and wipe the grates to ensure you haven't left small bits of the brush on the grill. Paper towels also work fine.
Burn Baby Burn. Set the heat on high and let the grate get really hot for at least 15 minutes. This will burn off any old oil, sauces, food particles and carbon build up. Reach into the cooler and grab your favorite beverage...this is critical, we're grilling after all.
It Matters What Charcoal you use. small briquettes work well but are not ideal as they tend to give off a faster heat. Look for larger blocks of charcoal
Temperature is Everything. Set up the temperatures on the grill. Designate a cool area on the grill. If using charcoal, place coals in a pile on only one side of the grill.
Create a Non-Stick Surface. Using a pair of tongs, soak a paper towel in oil and then apply the oil to grate on the grill
Time is on your side. Get a timer, or use one on your phone. Seafood cooks quickly.
Get a light. If grilling in the dark, have a light available so you can keep an eye on the grill. Never wash your grill grates in the dishwasher, the oils on the grates will coat the inside of dishwasher causing a huge mess.
Avoid Lighter Fluid. It may be great for starting a fire but it has no place on the grill. Using it will generally cause your seafood (which easily absorbs flavors) to taste...well like lighter fluid.
Check Your Propane Level. Nothing is worse than running out of propane halfway thru cooking dinner.
Five Tips For Cooking Perfect Seafood on the Grill
- Keep the Skin On. This helps hold the fish together making it easier to manage on the grill. Some fish like trout have great tasty crispy skin when grilled, other types of fish have skin that is easily removed after cooking.
- Get Some Skewers (disposable wood ones are fine), and be sure to soak them in water for 20 minutes before using them. Skewers are especially great for grilling scallops and shrimp. Why flip each shrimp or scallop when you can flip them all at one time on skewers? Try grilling fish on a plank.
- Grilling Planks are inexpensive and add a nice smoky flavor to fish. This method is perhaps the simplest. Soak the plank for a couple hours prior to grilling. Place the fish on the plank and let it cook to completion, no flipping required. When using a plank be sure to turn down the heat a bit. Also, be prepared for slightly longer cooking times when using a plank.
- Buy a Fish Basket. This secret weapon instantly turns a novice into a pro. These baskets clamp the fish between two grates. This allows easy flipping and even cooking without the fear of the fish sticking to the grill. Be sure to spray the grate with cooking spray prior to placing the fish in the basket.
- Marinades- Unlike steak or chicken, it is best to marinade fish after cooking. Fish is a gentler type of protein, and if you marinade the fish
We hope during your Oak Island beach vacation you get a chance to try some of our local seafood. Many of our beautiful vacation homes come with beautiful kitchens and many have grills for their guests use. If you have a favorite recipe or tip for grilling seafood we would love to hear about it so feel free to leave a comment below.