Barbecuing Seafood – Transform your summer barbecues by introducing mouth-watering seafood dishes.
Some people are nervous about throwing seafood onto the barbecue as they think the smoky overtones will overpower the subtle characteristics of fish, crab, lobster and other shellfish. But cooked correctly, barbecued seafood tastes fantastic, and the smoky outdoor aroma combines deliciously with the flavours of the ocean.
And it’s easy to learn how to grill seafood perfectly – the main thing to remember is that fish and shellfish can cook in minutes on a hot gas barbecue, so you need to keep an eye on what’s going on at all times.
Grill whole fish or fillets in minutes
Light and tasty, fish is perfect for a summer barbecue and can be cooked directly on the grate or wrapped in a foil parcel.
The trick to barbecuing any seafood is to make sure you have a clean grill. And as fish is more prone to sticking than fatty meat you need to brush both the fish and the grill with oil. It also helps to keep the skin on delicate fish, otherwise it can fall apart when moved during cooking. Plus, the skin of certain fish is delicious when it’s nice and crispy.
It’s worth cutting large fillets into portions. Small cuts of fish are easier to move around the grill, and you can ensure they’re cooked evenly. A handy rule of thumb is to cook fish for eight minutes per one inch of thickness, therefore a one-inch fillet can be cooked for four minutes on each side.
A simple way to grill halibut is to squeeze the juice from lime wedges over the fish fillets, season them with salt and pepper and grill for about 5 minutes on each side or until the fish is brown and can be flaked with a fork.
This recipe for honey glazed BBQ salmon marinades salmon fillets in oil, honey, lemon juice, garlic, dill and herbs for two hours before cooking on the barbecue. However, some experts advise against marinating fish in an acid-based marinade for more than twenty minutes as the acid can start to cook the fish.
Stuffed and topped fish dishes
Barbequing fish in a foil parcel will help to keep it moist, and if you’re stuffing a whole fish, the foil will also enable you to keep all the stuffing in place.
In this recipe for barbecued stuffed red snapper, the fish is stuffed with spring onions, celery, garlic, prawns and crab before being cooked in aluminium foil on the barbecue. However, if you find stuffing fish a bit fiddly, you can always simplify the recipe by spooning the stuffing onto the top of each fish fillet rather than putting it inside.
Alternatively, you may prefer your fish to be cooked directly on the grill to get that charred look and flavour. A simple stuffed fish recipe is to take a whole trout and fill it with lemon slices, thyme, rosemary, garlic and chilli flakes. Season the trout inside and out with salt and pepper and then barbecue for approximately four minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Grilled whole lobster or tails
Barbecued lobster is a popular luxury, and it’s simple to cook if you follow a few basic rules.
First, you need to cut a whole lobster in half and place it flesh side down, plus claws, over a hot barbecue and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then flip the lobster over and perhaps spoon on some garlic butter and cook for a few more minutes shell side down.
If you expose the lobster flesh directly to the heat for too long, it will quickly become dry. Once the thickest portion of the tail is white and firm, your lobster is done and should be removed from the heat as overcooking will make it rubbery.
If you’re inexperienced in barbecuing shellfish, an easy way to start is with lobster tails. Simply grill the lobster tails, cut side down, for about five minutes until their shells are a bright colour. When you turn the tails over, spoon some herbed butter onto the butterflied flesh and grill for another four minutes – the lobster meat should be an opaque white colour when it’s done.
Smoky barbecued crab
The traditional, and most popular, method of cooking crab is to immerse the shells in boiling water for several minutes.
However, by barbecuing crab, you infuse its tender, slightly sweet meat with a subtle smoky flavour that’s delicious. Plus, by grilling crab, you keep all the health benefits – crab meat is low in fat and a rich source of protein.
To start, arrange your crab evenly on a hot barbecue using tongs. If you’re grilling legs, place the thicker portions near the centre or hottest portion of the grill. Your approximate cooking time is three to five minutes each side. Precooked crab requires less time while fresh, raw crab can take an additional minute per side to ensure the meat is properly cooked.
Remove your cooked crab from the barbecue, break off the legs and claws, and use a sharp knife to split the underside in half. Discard the grey coloured feathery gills found inside the main body as these are inedible.
Like lobster, you can enhance the taste of cooked crab by adding a flavoured butter. Try combining butter, chilli, crushed garlic, a squeeze of lime and some shredded coriander leaves and generously brush over your warm crab.
Grilling shrimps and prawns
With shrimps and prawns, the bigger the better as the larger the size, the easier they are to grill. It helps to use skewers to move them around on the barbecue. However, don’t push them too close together otherwise they may not cook evenly.
You need to keep a close eye on prawns and shrimps as they don’t take long to cook on a hot grill and will become rubbery if overdone. Turn halfway through the cooking time, which only takes 3-5 minutes depending on the size of your prawns or shrimps – you can tell when they’re done as they will become pink and opaque.
Try marinating prawns in a lemon, garlic and parsley dressing for thirty minutes before barbecuing. After thirty minutes, thread the prawns onto a skewer and cook for 2-3 minutes per side on a lightly oiled grill. This marinade also works well with scallops.
Smoky chipotle BBQ prawns is a fantastic barbecue recipe as it is full of smoky flavours – prawns are coated in a smoky chipotle chilli marinade, skewered and then barbecued until the prawns turn pink.
Cook scallops simply
The first thing to bear in mind with scallops is to cook them dry – avoid ones that have been
soaked in preservatives.
As with prawns and shrimps, bigger is better as larger scallops are sweeter and easier to cook. Like fish, scallops will stick to the grill so brush your cooking surface and your scallops with oil.
If you’ve never cooked scallops before, a straightforward method is to pat dry each scallop and sprinkle with olive oil and black pepper, making sure you cover all sides. Then grill for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side and serve immediately.
Barbecued scallops with butter and lemon is a fast, simple and mouth-watering way to prepare scallops using skewers or wire baskets to barbecue.
Charred and crispy squid
Squid tastes wonderful after a few minutes on the barbecue as you get that delicious charred taste on the white flesh and the tentacles go crispy.
To prepare your squid, pat it with paper towels to make sure its surface is as dry as possible and then apply some oil to prevent the squid from sticking to the grill. You only need to barbecue it for two minutes on each side as it will quickly turn rubbery if cooked for longer. Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon juice for a delicious starter or side dish.
You can also cook scallops in a parcel rather than directly on the grill. Just place your scallops in a tin foil wrap and cover with mushrooms, butter, parsley, garlic and seasoning. Then grill for about 12 minutes.
Or if you’re fond of Mediterranean dishes, try this recipe for squid and cherry tomato skewers that includes dry white wine with pitted green and black olives.
A sumptuous selection of seafood
As you will have gathered, hot and fast is the best way to barbecue seafood. And once you try grilling seafood, you’ll be hooked and want to experiment with all kinds of dishes.
Herbs and spices, flavoured butters and tangy marinades all add variety – but if you prefer to keep it simple, a squeeze of lemon is sometimes all you need. From meaty fish steaks to prawn skewers and lobster and crab tails, seafood tastes fantastic when it’s been barbecued.
And to make it even more enjoyable, seafood is packed with all sorts of healthy properties as well as being low in fat and high in protein – so you can enjoy these mouth-watering dishes knowing that they’re good for you!
Links included in this article link out to the allrecipes.co.uk website.