Omnivores who associate barbecue weather with steak, chicken, burgers, and dogs may not be so quick to consider seafood as an option for grilling. Many types of fish are a bit too delicate for this preparation; others, while sturdier, still have a relatively tender structure that requires gentler handling. But don't let that intimidate you—there's so much seafood that takes beautifully to the flames as long as the right technique is applied. Below are 15 recipes to convince you, including blackened Creole catfish, Vietnamese-style shrimp summer rolls, and multiple takes on fish tacos.
Rolled and Grilled Salmon Steaks
Sure, it's kind of old-school, but the best way to get well-cooked salmon steaks on the grill is to debone them, evening out the shape of the steaks into rounds. Don't be afraid: It's actually quite easy (and we have step-by-step instructions to walk you through it). Once the steaks are rolled and tied with butcher's twine, you'll gently season the fish with a quick saltwater brine, then grill the steaks with our awesome homemade teriyaki sauce.
Whole Grilled Fish With Olive-Tomato Compote
Roasting a whole fish is one of our favorite fancy-but-easy tricks, but frankly, grilling a whole fish may be even better, crisping the skin and keeping the fish moist. To prevent the delicate flesh from sticking, make sure your grill is hot, clean, and well oiled, and your fish is thoroughly dried. A powerfully flavored sauce of Kalamata olives, garlic, and tomatoes adds savory intensity to the fish's overall mildness.
Whole Grilled Fish Tacos
Inspired by LA's Coni'Seafood, these Mexican-style fish tacos are made with grilled whole red mullet seasoned with ancho chili powder, cumin, and lime juice. Assemble your tacos using the only reasonable approach to a whole grilled fish: picking the meat straight off the bones with your fingers, then piling it in a warm corn tortilla or two and adding lime vinaigrette and a cooling cucumber pico de gallo.
Simple Grilled Halibut
When grilling skinless fish fillets, you'll want to pick out a firmer, more robust kind—halibut and swordfish are two good, sturdy options. Again, be sure that grill is well slicked with oil, and oil the fish, too, for maximum ease of flipping. A dusting of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon after cooking are all the seasoning you'll need.
Chili-Rubbed Mahimahi Tacos With Grilled-Mango Salsa
Another firm-fleshed fish that's hearty enough to stand up to grilling, mahimahi has a light flavor that's complemented here with an earthy rub of chili powder, paprika, cumin, and brown sugar. Since you'll already have the fire going, it only makes sense to grill the mangoes, onions, and jalapeños used to make the fruity-hot salsa on the side. Flake the fish, stuff it into tortillas, spoon on the salsa, and revel in the flavors of summer.
Blackened Catfish With Creole Sauce
Not everyone loves the fact that fish tastes...well, fishy, which is how recipes like this one are born. A spicy Cajun rub, blackened over the blasting heat of the grill, softens the flavor of the catfish without wholly masking it. For a touch of freshness, we serve the fish with a peppery tomato-based Creole Sauce.
Grilled Shrimp With Garlic and Lemon
As good as they are when done right, grilled shrimp disappoint more often than not—their translucent flesh can overcook in an instant, leaving them with a dry, rubbery texture. To get them plump and juicy, we first brine our shrimp with salt and baking soda, then let them dry thoroughly in the fridge. Get the grill ripping-hot, then cook the shrimp quickly to brown them on the outside. A simple vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and parsley is all you need to set them off.
Grilled Shrimp With Chermoula
Once you've got the technique down, you can dress your perfectly grilled shrimp however you'd like. Here, we use chermoula, a North African condiment reminiscent of chimichurri that's made with fresh parsley and cilantro, cumin, lemon, and olive oil. You'll get the best flavor if you crush those ingredients with a mortar and pestle, but a blender or food processor works, too.
Steamed Buns With Grilled Shrimp and Sriracha Mayonnaise
A skewer of grilled shrimp is satisfying on its own, but we couldn't resist stuffing them into a sandwich, too—in this case, Chinese-style folded steamed buns, along with quick-pickled cucumbers, shredded cabbage, and a hot Sriracha mayonnaise. The sweet and tender shrimp play beautifully with the acidity of the pickles and the cabbage's crunch. You can heat up your store-bought buns in a steamer, or just use the microwave.
Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp
Want an even more straightforward approach to keeping shrimp juicy—as long as you're willing to go with a slightly more rustic appearance and messier eating experience? Just keep the shells on. They'll act as a buffer against the flames, holding precious moisture inside. Here, we marinate shell-on shrimp with lemongrass, ginger, and garlic, plus a couple of splashes of fish sauce for extra flavor.
Vietnamese Grilled Shrimp Summer Rolls
These light and refreshing summer rolls are made with grilled shrimp marinated in a mixture of fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and black pepper, then wrapped up with crunchy pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, and rice vermicelli. Assembling the rolls does take a bit of practice, but have patience and you'll get there. Don't forget the peanut sauce for dipping.
Shrimp Boil Skewers
Seafood boils are one of summer's greatest joys in Cajun Country (or anywhere else), but hosting one is an involved affair. For the flavors of a shrimp boil in a less-muss, less-fuss format, combine the classic components—shrimp, andouille sausage, corn, and potatoes—by threading them onto skewers and grilling them with a fiery Cajun seasoning mix. Parboil the potatoes before grilling them—they need much more time to cook than everything else.
Grilled Lobster With Lemon-Shallot Butter
Grilling lobster results in tender, sweet meat that's perfectly accentuated by the brightness and richness of the lemon-shallot butter we use here. Though you can grill lobster simply by throwing it over the fire, a quick steam and a shock in ice water first will help to set the meat.
Grilled Squid With Olive Oil and Lemon
Fresh squid, grilled simply with olive oil and lemon juice, represents all that's wonderful about Mediterranean cooking: It's inexpensive and uncomplicated, and it maintains the focus squarely on quality ingredients. It's also super easy to make—just be sure to dry the squid well and coat it with plenty of olive oil so that it browns before overcooking and turning dry.
Italian-Style Grilled Octopus
Try to grill raw octopus and, most likely, it'll turn out chewy and inedible. Instead, boil the octopus (anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes, depending on whether it's fresh or frozen) before putting it on the fire. Happily, this will give you an opportunity to add extra flavor—in this recipe, we braise it with white wine, peppercorns, lemon, and garlic.