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Fire Up the Grill and Eat Seafood, America!

July 14, 2021

From swordfish steaks to shrimp on the barbie, grilling offers versatile options for seafood dishes.

Mahi mahi filets on a grill. Grilled mahi mahi. Credit: Shutterstock.

Summer is in full swing and the smell of delicious grilled food is wafting through the air wherever you go. Seafood is sometimes overlooked when it comes to grilling, but there are so many ways you can prepare grilled seafood it’ll make your head swim! Grilling seafood is easy as long as you use the proper techniques. Check out these tips and recipes; then pick up some seafood for your next barbeque.

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Grilled swordfish filets with mango chutney on a plate.
Grilled swordfish with mango chutney. Photo by Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
  1. You can sear thicker seafood filets, like swordfish and mahi mahi, directly on the grill. Just brush them with oil and season to your liking. Some filets can also be grilled with the skin on. Lay the filet skin side down on the grill and cook on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes before flipping it to the other side for 8 to 10 minutes. The skin will be crispy while the meat remains tender.

    > Grilled Swordfish with Mango Chutney

    > Grilled Spice-Rubbed Opah

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    Grilled salmon on a cedar plank over coals.
    Grilled salmon on cedar plank. Photo courtesy of North Carolina Sea Grant.
  2. Filets thinner than 1 inch can be wrapped or placed on a flat cooking surface before grilling. If you’re wrapping seafood, you can use aluminum foil, banana leaves, or even corn husks. This method will ensure your seafood stays together and doesn’t overcook. Plus, you can add other ingredients to the wrap to add even more flavor.

    Griddles or grill mats provide a flat cooking surface to prevent flare ups and keep your seafood from falling through the grill grate. You can also grill thinner filets on pre-soaked cedar planks. Soak the planks in water for an hour and place the fish on top. Grilling over medium heat will impart a smoky flavor and the best part is you don’t even have to flip the fish. This method works great with salmon.

    > Grilled Sockeye Salmon with Huckleberry Compote

    > Acadian Redfish with Chimichurri
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    Grilled tuna with melted herb butter on top.
    Grilled tuna with herb butter. Photo courtesy of North Carolina Sea Grant.
  3. Seafood should always be cooked to an internal temperature of around 140 to 145 degrees. Use a food thermometer to measure the temperature and test the tenderness of your fish with a fork. If the meat flakes as you turn the fork, the meat is properly cooked.

    If you’re worried about grilled seafood drying out, marinate it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to an hour. Marinating for too long will cause the seafood to become mushy and it can overpower the seafood’s natural taste. If done correctly, the marinade will help seal in moisture while providing excellent flavor.

    > Grilled Marinated Tuna with Herb Butter

    > Grilled Coho Salmon with Lemon Ginger Marinade

Find more recipes for the U.S. seafood you love on FishWatch. Want to learn more about seafood but don’t know where to start? FishWatch also arms you with the facts about what makes U.S. seafood sustainable—from the ocean or farm to your plate. Get up-to-date information on the status of harvested marine fish and farmed fish, and learn more about U.S. seafood.