Grilled seafood can be summer-time taste treat. If you favor seafood all year round and you live in a northern or midwestern city that turns cold in the fall and brutal in the winter, you have to take your cooking indoors. But when the weather turns favorable, you can bring your fish to the grill and have a sensational meal.

Best Grilling Seafoods
You don’t want a delicate fish that has thin skin if you want to grill. That type of fish will generally fall apart and your meal will be ruined before you can take it off the grill. You will want to grill fish with thick skins like grouper, halibut or salmon. Grouper is often sold as a fillet or a steak. Halibut is the most delicate fish you should try cooking on the grill. Salmon may be the easiest fish to cook on the grill because you can give it a good char and it will still retain its flavor.

Best Grilling Shellfish
Large shrimp and larger scallops are ideal for grilling. If you want to grill either of these delicacies, you may want to marinate them or use a rub to bring out their flavor. Use larger shrimp—and not cocktail shrimp on the grill. Skewer your shrimp and place them over a medium heat for three minutes per side. Sea scallops are ideal for grilling. They are much larger and plumper than bay scallops. If you grill the smaller bay scallops they are not likely to hold up well through the grilling process.

Meaty Fish
Both swordfish and tuna grill very similar to beef when it is placed over the hot coals. Tuna is probably the easiest to grill if you are not used to cooking your fish that way. It almost never sticks to the grill. Swordfish is somewhat oily and that helps the fish retain its moisture during the grilling process. It is a very meaty fish that results in a filling meal.

Heart Health
Seafood is considered a heart healthy alternative to red meat. However, the thicker fish that holds up best to the grilling process contains more fat than the delicate fish that doesn’t hold up well on the grill. Don’t let this deter you because it is basically a heart-healthy type of fat.

Cooking Your Fish
Use a medium heat when cooking fish. You don’t want the heat to be on “high” or the charcoals to be super-hot because the fish can dry out rather quickly under those circumstances. Check your fish after several minutes to avoid overcooking. When the fish flakes or turns and opaque color, the fish is done cooking. If it is not cooked fully, it will be somewhat translucent and have a shiny characteristic.

To avoid overcooking fish, it’s generally best to go with a medium–hot fire rather than a really hot one. You should start checking the fish several minutes before you think it’s done. There are two ways to test doneness: (1) pull a little of the flesh out with a fork and see if it flakes, or (2) make a small slit in the thickest part of the fish with a sharp knife. Cooked fish will be firm to the touch and opaque; undercooked fish will appear shiny and semi-translucent.

Grilling Tips
Always make sure your grill is clean before cooking fish. If the grill is not clean, the left-over will residue will impact the flavor of the fish. A dirty rack will also lead to sticking. To avoid that problem, use a cooking spray or oil prior to the cooking process.

-Steve Silverman