by Buck Reed
Seafood The Grill
You don’t need a calendar to tell you that the weather is warmer, and once the rain subsides, it’s grilling time. Now, there are the usual hamburgers and hot dogs options, which are pretty good reasons to fire up the charcoal, and even a steak or chicken can be considered an upgrade. But if you want something exceptional, why not consider adding a little seafood to the grill.
Adding an extra appetizer to the menu might be the most cost-effective option to adding a bit of the sea to your menu. Grilled shrimp with a simple cocktail or remoulade sauce can add an easy option to your party. A simple marinade of beer and Old Bay and a grill basket can easily turn this into a successful starter.
Oysters or clams can also be a nice addition or starter for your get-together. Just shuck them, making sure to keep the juices intact, and carefully place them in the half shell on the hot grill. Add a little flavored butter and close the lid. The heat, smoke, and steam will cook them up and, if you can keep them from overcooking, should result in a memorable starter. Figure on one or two per person for your guests to enjoy while you are preparing the rest of the meal.
As far as fish, a cheaper cut may well be a better choice to consider. Blue fish tends to be a strong-flavored fish, but if you marinate it, you can cut those flavors down, and using a smoke option might turn this inexpensive fish into a treasure. I am thinking grilled fish tacos here for a festive backyard gathering.
Whole fish are also an excellent choice for the grill. Just make sure it is scaled and deboned or just ask the seafood attendant to make it pan ready for you. Adding a flavored butter or herbs inside the cavity can also add some great flavors to your fish.
Most fish do pretty well on the grill, and with a clean, hot grill—as well as a lot of attention—can produce some great results. But if you are worried about the fish sticking to the grate, consider planking as an easy out. This is simply placing the fish on a board and putting that over the fire. You should first soak the board in water for a few hours or overnight to keep it from burning up before fish is cooked. Don’t forget to season your fish before grilling.
And, if you want to go outside the box, think about adding grilled octopus on your menu. It is actually more foolproof than you think. A day or two before the grilling, simmer your octopus pieces until tender, then chill. Add a marinade an hour or two before and then grill until hot and slightly charred.
There really shouldn’t be a stigma associated with the preparation of seafood. It really is more simple than most people think, and given its quick cooking time, should be an easy choice for your next barbeque.