Cooking over coals is a wonderful way to prepare seafood in the summer. It takes little time if you follow a few basic rules. There are several methods to choose from, depending on the kind of fish and cooking that appeals to you.
A barbecued food is one that is exposed to both the heat and smoke of the grill. Food wrapped in foil, then cooked, results in a steamed food. Then there are kabobs and cooking with marinades.
Dark-fleshed fish are ideal for cooking on the grill. The slightly higher fat content keeps the fish moist so it requires little basting. Fish with a whiter flesh needs basting with oil, butter, or marinade.
Outdoor cooking of seafood takes a little practice in judging the heat intensity, type of fuel, distance from heat, and thickness of the food.
In general, fish is cooked when it loses its translucent appearance and turns white. Shellfish should be cooked just until the shell opens.
Grilling: Measure the thickness of fish at its thickest part and allow 10 minutes cooking time per inch of fish. If fish is frozen, double cooking time.
Use a hinged wire grill for steaks or a special fish grill for whole fish. Baste the fish and place it 2 to 3 inches away from the heat. Frozen fish should be slightly farther away from coals to prevent overcooking on the outside.
When fish is cooked on one side, turn and baste. Test with a fork for doneness to see if center is white. Whole fish should be scaled and slit in several places to allow for best heat penetration.
Marinades: A marinade is an acidic sauce used in outdoor cooking to add flavor and keep fish moist. The most common ingredients are lemon juice and herbs, although many other ingredients may be added. Marinate in liquid for at least one hour for fullest flavor.
Kabobs: Shellfish is ideal as a kabob. Simply alternate on a skewer one or more kinds of fish with onions, tomatoes, green peppers, or other vegetables.
Marinated or cubed fish is also good on a skewer. Instead of vegetables, fruit such as apple, pineapple, or orange slices may be used. Cook 3 minutes per side.
Foil baking: To foil bake, place steaks or fillets on foil and add seasoning. A slice of lemon or tomato, parsley sprigs, scallions, or any fresh herbs such as dill, fennel, basil, sage, or tarragon will enhance the flavor.
Bring edges of foil together and fold over tightly to form a seal. Then seal the two ends. Place either on a rack or directly on the coals.
For one-inch-thick fresh cuts, cook 15 to 20 minutes. Add 10 minutes more for frozen cuts. For fresh whole fish cook 10 minutes per pound.