Seafood on the Grill

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Story by Dave Eckert

I fully realize our recent spate of scorching hot temperatures has sent many of us scurrying inside for the safety of air conditioning. But, for the defiant ones, myself included, nothing can keep us away from our grills, not even heat indices in the triple digits! I love to grill. My wife would say “live” to grill and she may be right. I have taken many an evening shower following a dinnertime grilling meltdown. But, it’s worth it when you see that meat, poultry, or seafood come off the charcoal (or propane when I’m in a hurry) grill with just the right amount of char on the outside and heaps of moisture and tenderness on the inside.

I know Kansas City is all about meat, but honestly, as much as I love reverse searing a nice steak or three, I get more pleasure transforming seafood into grilled delights. In fact, as I write this, I have two pounds of wild caught brown shrimp marinating in a combination of garlic, herbs, and lemon juice ready to be seared to perfection on the grill. Many people I know are intimidated by cooking seafood at all, let alone on a grill. But, I’ve amassed some tips along the way to help make your seafood grilling experience smoother and your seafood dining experience tastier.

  • You can cook directly on the grates of your gas or charcoal grill, but honestly, a proper grate or basket on top of the grill makes things so much easier. I just Googled seafood grates for grilling and found 6 under $20 in 15 seconds, so you have no excuses.
  • Make sure to start with a clean grate, then apply some vegetable oil with a rag to prevent the food from sticking.
  • Have the proper utensils at your disposal – tongs if you’re doing shrimp and a nice long, sturdy spatula for fish.
  • For gas and charcoal grills alike, let the grill get super hot before putting the food on. Most seafood will cook quickly with just one turn over high heat, but if you’ve got something thicker, like swordfish or tuna, you might consider turning the heat down after putting the fish on the grill or moving it to a cooler area in the case of charcoal. This will prevent a finished product that’s burnt on the outside but raw in the middle.
  • Turn the fish only once, and only when it’s cooked at least halfway through. I know it’s tempting, but I’ve had many a chef tell me the fastest way to ruin a good piece of seafood is by “messing with it.” Think of it this way, the more you flip the fish, the more likely it is to start falling apart.
  • A good rule-of-thumb is ten minutes of cooking over medium hot coals or a medium hot gas grill for each 1-inch of thickness. Thinner fish, fillets, or shrimp cook much faster, so beware.


So, there you have it. Below are some great grilled seafood recipes along with an easy, breezy summertime cocktail to help wash it all down. As for me, it’s time to get that shrimp up to temp, fire up the grill, and get dinner on the table. Cheers!


Local Recipes

Louie Salad from The Oliver

Serves 4

Dressing Ingredients:

Chili sauce –  3 oz    |    Worcestershire sauce – 1 TBL    |    Tabasco – 1 TBL    |    Dijon mustard – 1/4 cup    |    Lemon juice – 1 each fresh lemon    |    Black pepper – 1/2 teaspoon    |    Mayo – 1 cup    |    Kosher Salt – 1 teaspoon


Place all ingredient in a mixing bowl and mix well. Place in a suitable container and refrigerate for an hour before use.

Salad Ingredients:

1 each – Head iceberg lettuce    |    1 each – Avocado    |    4 each  – Heirloom tomatoes    |    1 Tablespoon – Black pepper    |    12 each – Large shrimp, grilled and seasoned


Cut Iceberg lettuce into quarter or chopped. Dice avocado and tomatoes into one inch cube – distribute over lettuce. Place grilled shrimp over salad. Drizzle dressing over salad. Finish salad with black pepper.

Kansas City Book Recipes

Recipe2Pernod-Buttered Lobster Tails on the Grill

From 25 Essential Techniques for Grilling Fish by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig

Lobster tails are easier to manage for first-time lobster grillers. Simply thaw the lobster tails, remove the membrane if necessary, and loosen the meat from the shell a little bit with a sharp knife. You don’t want the lobster meat to fall out while grilling, but you also don’t want to have to excavate every bite. The Pernod Butter is quite tasty and some crusty grilled bread brushed with the butter is delicious served alongside the lobster tails. Serves 4


For the Pernod Butter: 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened    |    2 tablespoons Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur    |    2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

For the Main Dish: Four 8-ounce rock lobster tails, fresh or frozen and thawed    |    Olive oil for brushing     |    Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Prepare a hot fire in a grill. Oil the grill grate. To make the butter, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. Set aside. Cut the top membrane from the lobster tails and discard. Loosen the meat from the shell and brush with the olive oil. Place the lobster tails, cut side down, on the grill rack and grill for 3 to 4 minutes, or until you see grill marks. Turn the lobster tails over and cook until the flesh is firm and white, another 3 to 4 minutes. Place lobster tails, flesh side up, on plates or a platter, spread with the soft Pernod Butter, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Recipe3Grilled Halibut with Roasted Red Pepper Aioli

From BBQ Bistro-Simple, Sophisticated French Recipes for Your Grill by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig

A grilled halibut fillet makes a great presentation on a platter. Remember to grill for 10 minutes per inch/2.5 cm of thickness, turning only once. The Roasted Red Pepper Aioli is quick to make using store-bought mayonnaise and keeps in the refrigerator for about 1 week. You can use store-bought roasted peppers in a jar or roast your own. To roast peppers, preheat your grill to high. Grill whole peppers until blackened, blistered and tender. Place peppers in a brown paper bag and close the top. Set aside for about 5 minutes until cool. Slice peppers open to remove the core and seeds. Rub excess char off the skins. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Serves 6


For the Roasted Red Pepper Aioli: 2 garlic cloves, chopped    |    1 red bell pepper, grilled or roasted (about 1/2 cup from a jar)     |    1 1/2 cups mayonnaise    |    1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the Main Dish: 2 pounds skinless halibut fillet    |    Olive oil    |    Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper    |    Several basil leaves for garnish


For the Roasted Red Pepper Aioli, puree the garlic, roasted pepper and mayonnaise in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in lemon juice to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare a hot fire in your grill. Lightly brush the fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the fish, flesh side down, on the grill. Grill for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, turning once, until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

Place the halibut fillet on a platter and top with a basil leaf. Spoon the red pepper aioli on the plate beside the fish.

Recipe4Grilled Salmon Nicoise Salad 

From 300 Big & Bold Barbecue & Grilling Recipes by Karen Adler & Judith Fertig

In this recipe we change out the classic tuna for a luscious grilled salmon fillet. Instead of potatoes, we suggest thick slices of crusty bread to mop up the delicious vinaigrette.


For the Red Wine Vinaigrette: 1 large clove garlic, minced    |    1 cup extra virgin olive oil    |    1/4 cup red wine vinegar    |    2 tablespoons minced shallots    |    2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil    |    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard    |    1 teaspoon anchovy paste    |    1/2 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence or thyme

For the Main Dish: One 3-pound salmon fillet    |    12 ounces thin green beans, cooked    |    1 head Boston lettuce, cleaned and torn apart    |    2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes    |    3 hard-cooked eggs, quartered    |    1 cup nicoise olives, or Kalamata    |    Several slices of crusty bread    |    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning    |    Olive oil for brushing or basting


Combine all of the Red Wine Vinaigrette ingredients and whisk to blend. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Prepare a hot fire in your grill Brush salmon fillet with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place flesh side down on the grill and grill for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, turning once halfway through grilling. Salmon should begin to flake easily with a fork. Keep warm. Toss the lettuce with 2 teaspoons of the vinaigrette. Arrange greens on a platter or individual plates. Place warm salmon on lettuce. Arrange green beans, tomatoes, eggs, and olives around the salmon. Drizzle all with more of the vinaigrette. Serve the bread alongside for sopping up the juices.

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