California Seafood: If it Swims, Grill it!
Picnic grilling is a snap with a portable grill or hibachi. These tips from the California Seafood Council will help you master the art of grilling fish over the fire:
To keep seafood from sticking, start with a well-scrubbed grill, then lightly coat the cooking surface with nonstick spray or cooking oil. Place the grill 4 to 6 inches from the heat and preheat it about 30 minutes prior to cooking.
Seafood cooks best over a moderately hot fire. Wait for the coals to achieve an even, gray, ashy look. No active flame should be apparent. The most common errors in seafood cookery are cooking at too high a temperature and overcooking fish.
Cook fish, steaks, kebobs and shellfish over direct heat. Whole fish do best over indirect heat. After filling the cavity with fresh herbs and lemon slices, bank the coals on the sides of the grill and place the whole fish in the center of the grill. Brush with marinade and turn halfway through cooking time.
Follow the 10-minute rule when grilling fish: cook for approximately 10 minutes per inch of thickness - 5 minutes per side. Remove fish from the grill just before it's done (when it turns opaque throughout). The fish will continue to cook briefly even after it is removed from the heat.
Grilling fish with its skin on helps maintain shape and moisture. When preparing skin-on fillets, grill them skin-side down for half the cooking time, then cover with foil to complete the cooking process. There's no need to turn the fish.
Baste seafood with marinade, melted butter or oil to maintain moisture, especially with thinner pieces of fish. When grilling without a marinade, first pat fish dry with a paper towel, and brush with oil if desired, to minimize sticking.
Steaks or fillets at least 3/4 inch thick are easiest to grill. Thinner pieces grill best if wrapped in foil (with a few holes punched in it) or placed in a hinged grilling basket. There's no need to turn thin pieces.
California seafood varieties abundant in summertime and great on the grill include California Halibut, White Seabass, Sablefish (also known as Black Cod), and a year-round favorite, California rockfish (13 of the more than 50 rockfish species harvested are commonly called Pacific snapper). Or rediscover an old favorite: California Barracuda.