As more people explore the health benefits of eating fish and seafood, many are also considering more ways in which to prepare the seafood and that includes grilling. Grilled seafood has been a delicious meal for many and now more people are enjoying this tasty dish.
However, how do you prepare the seafood for grilling and what does it take to properly grill seafood to get the most flavor in a healthy and sound way, is a question many ask. Grilling seafood is somewhat different than grilling poultry or red meat but not enough of a difference to be a problem for most.
Grilling seafood is really all about getting the temperature right. Using the wrong cooking or grilling temp can over cook or under cook seafood. While over cooked seafood isn’t a health concern, it does rob the food of flavor and many end up with just a pile of fish glop or fishy brick. By contrast, undercooking seafood can be highly dangerous and can cause serious illness and in some people, even death.
Therefore, it is important to get the temperature just right. Seafood should be cooked to a minimum temperature of 145 degrees and should be cooked until the flesh is transparent and flakes easily with a fork. To get the best results, it is best to consult the specific recipe for the specific seafood dish in order to determine the length of time at what temperature is optimal for your meal.
Wrapped or Unwrapped
Not all seafood can be cooked properly by exposure to direct flame. Often, a specific fish or shellfish will be required to be wrapped to protect it from direct flame, flare-ups, and other grilling hazards. In addition, some recipes will require wraps on some and not on others. Often, prawns or shellfish are not needed to be wrapped while other fish will need some sort of wrap. It can also depend on the style of grilling. Some blackened recipes call for the fish to be unwrapped while some fish are ok with just being cooked on the warming rack, without being wrapped. Thus, it is important to look up the specific fish cuts in order to determine if wrapping is needed or required. Of course, the specific recipe can override this.
Convection or Infrared
Something to consider along with wrapping is that most charcoal and gas work by convection cooking. When preparing seafood, it is often more successful to use infrared cooking. Even if you don’t have an infrared equipped grill, wrapping the grate with a thick aluminum foil will work as well. This can be beneficial if the recipe calls for the food to be unwrapped, however, it will still work with wrapped but will produce a more juicy result so it depends on the specific seafood in which to use this method with.
Much of the seafood used in grilling already has strong flavors and the smoked flavor from the grill adds to or accompanies this existing flavor. Therefore, using spices sparingly or those that work well with the smoked flavor are the best option. One common element is the removal of the “fishy” taste that can be found with some seafood especially those that were frozen. In which case, many people tend to over spice the seafood leaving just the flavor of the spice and diminishing the smoked flavor. Increasing the smoke produced by the grill will help remove the “fishy” taste without the addition of extra spices. This means that you don’t have to add as many spices to remove that flavor as you would with a traditional oven bake. However, this only applies to certain fish and prawn types as some cuts of fish will have a strong flavor regardless. Importantly, remember the grill is adding flavor so you should take that into account.
Quality Begets Quality
One simple rule for grilling any food is that quality begets quality. This means that the better quality cut or quality seafood the better the end results will be. The act of grilling not only cooks the food but enhances the various aspects and flavors of the food. Therefore, the better the cut of meat the better your flavors will be. However, the caveat with this is that it becomes even more important to make sure you have the right temperature settings and the right recipe, along with the right grill and so on in order to get the best results. It all has to work together to make the best possible and flavorful dish.
Don’t Cross Contaminate
One last note on grilling seafood. Do not cross contaminate your foods. If you are preparing other cuts of meats along with seafood do not use the same tools for preparing and cooking the food. Cross contamination can cause serious illness because the raw seafood can contaminate the other cuts of meats and the heat will not necessarily destroy all the potential bacteria that are part of a normal seafood and meat setting. It is better to be safe than sorry. This includes not using the same oil for frying fish and red meat and do not use the same wrapping for the different cuts, discarding each portions wrapping after use.
Grilling seafood is a great way to enjoy the fruits of the sea and it is a safe way to enjoy a delicious meal, as long a you take precautions. Seafood has been enjoyed on the grill for centuries and it is a healthy alternative to other foods. It is also a great way to spend time with family and friends and it is something everyone should enjoy.