How to Grill the Best Seafood on Your Ocean Isle Beach Vacation


How to Grill the Best Seafood on Your Ocean Isle Beach Vacation 

Is there anything better than an evening around the grill surrounded by friends and family on Ocean Isle Beach. From shrimp to flounder, the grill is the perfect way to prepare fresh local seafood on your Ocean Island Beach vacation.  Many people find grilling seafood to be an intimidating process, but it doesn't have to be. If you've ever wanted to grill seafood like a pro, you're in luck. Grilling seafood is actually very easy, and today we will give you the tips, tricks, and tools so you can impress the whole family with your grilling skills. Put down that cell phone, there won't be more embarrassing messes followed by a desperate call for a pizza.

The Best Fresh Seafood 

Buying Fresh Seafood Like a Pro

 

No matter how great a recipe sounds, or how expensive a grill you have...in the end, the quality of the seafood is what is going to make a great dish. Luckily, here on Ocean Isle Beach, we have plenty of great places to buy fresh local seafood.  Seafood isn't something to bargain shop for, you get what you pay. This is the time to splurge a little on the best and freshest seafood you can find. Follow these helpful tips while shopping to ensure you get the best seafood. 

Shrimp- Avoiding dry dull shrimp is all about locking in the moisture. To do this, buy fresh whole shrimp with the head still attached.  If those are not available, by frozen shrimp with the shell still intact. The shell, like the head, helps the shrimp retain its moisture. A little biology; shrimp rot quickly, so really fresh or frozen is the only way to go. If it looks old, then it is old. 

Whole Fish- Grilling a whole fish is one of the best and tastiest ways to enjoy a great catch. When shopping for a whole fish, look for clear bright eyes and clean metallic looking skin. Skin which has a dull color is a bad sign. Fish should never smell, well fishy! Fresh fish smells almost briny or like clean water. Inspect the gills as well. They should be bright red, if they look like a brick color, this is a sign the fish is not really fresh. 

Shell Fish-  Mouth watering grilled Oysters are simple and delicious to grill. However, with any shell fish, there are a few things to look for. Shell fish are sold alive and should behave that way. For example,  you can place clams and mussels on the counter and tap the top of them. Sit back for a moment, if they are fresh they should close tighter than they did prior to being tapped. After cooking if they don't open then toss them as they're dead. 

Fillets- Look for a nice clean fillet absent of any milky looking fluid. The fillet should not smell fishy. If it does, move on because the fish is of poor quality. If allowed, gently push your finger into the fillet. In high-quality fresh fish fillets, the indentation will disappear. 

Lobster and Crab- Lobster tail on the grill with a little butter is one of those delicious beach treats we all daydream about. Lobster and crab are best purchased fresh and alive. In the tank, lobster and crab should be active and moving around. If they appear lethargic they are probably of poor quality. Lobster, for example, starve themselves in captivity. If you're not careful, after cooking you'll have a lobster with very little meat. Crab can also be purchased frozen be sure to ask when they were caught and frozen. 

Tip: Looking to land your own catch of the day? Fall is one of the best times to fish on Ocean Isle Beach. Check out our previous post, A How To Guide for the Best of Ocean Isle: Fall Fishing

 

Grill Set Up 

Grill Set Up

 

You've purchased your favorite fresh seafood and you found a great recipe...now let's get that grill ready. Preparation is everything when grilling seafood. Charcoal or gas grills both work well for cooking seafood. Propane is a bit easier for the less experienced grill masters. Temperatures and clean up are also a bit easier with gas grills. 

Setting up your grill is easy. The first step is making sure you have a clean grill. All those little bits of food and carbon may be proud reminders of your past grilling, but it's time for a fresh start. A dirty grill will cause your food to have an acrid and foul taste, destroying all your hard work. 

Let's get started...  

  • Start by making sure you have a clean grate. Use a strong wire brush to loosen and remove old grit, food, or carbon build up. 
  • After using the wire brush, take a wet cloth and wipe the grates to ensure there are no parts of the brush on the grill. Paper-towels also work fine. 
  • Set the heat on high and let the grate get really hot for at least 15 minutes. This will burn off any old oil, sauces, food particles and carbon build up.
  • Reach in the cooler and grab your favorite beverage...this is critical, we're grilling after all. 
  • Set up the temperatures on the grill. Designate a cool area on the grill. If using charcoal place coals in a pile on only one side of the grill.
  • Using a pair of tongs, soak a paper-towel in oil and then apply the oil to grate of the grill.
  • Get a timer, or use one on your phone, seafood cooks quickly.
  • If grilling in the dark have a light available so you can keep an eye on the grill. 
Tip: Never wash your grill grates in the dishwasher, the oils on the grates will coat the inside of dishwasher causing a huge mess. 

 

Cooking Tips 

Cooking Tips and Tricks 

 
Now you're ready to grill! There are several methods to cooking seafood on the grill. Luckily, there are also a few tools and tips that can make this a lot less intimidating. Here are our best tips and tricks:
  • Keep the skin on. This helps hold the fish together making it easier to manage on the grill. Some fish like trout have great tasty crispy skin when grilled, other types of fish have skin that is easily removed after cooking. 
  • Get some skewers (disposable wood ones are fine), and be sure to soak them in water for 20 minutes before using them. Skewers are especially great for grilling scallops and shrimp. Why flip each shrimp or scallop when you can flip them all at one time on skewers? 
  • Try grilling fish on a plank. Grilling planks are inexpensive and add a nice smokey flavor to fish. This method is perhaps the simplest. Soak the plank for a couple hours prior to grilling. Place the fish on the plank and let it cook to completion, no flipping required. When using a plank be sure to turn down the heat a bit. Also, be prepared for slightly longer cooking times when using a plank. 
  • Buy a fish basket. This secret weapon instantly turns a novice into a pro. These baskets clamp the fish between two grates. This allows easy flipping and even cooking without the fear of the fish sticking to the grill. Be sure to spray the grate with cooking spray prior to placing the fish in the basket. 
  • Unlike steak or chicken, it is best to marinade fish after cooking. Fish are a gentler type of protein, and if you marinade the fish prior to cooking it has a tendency to fall apart. 
  • Larger fish like Halibut, Swordfish and Tuna steaks should be prepared by the fish monger in at least one inch thick steaks.
  • Finally, some fish require some extra care when grilling. For example, with delicate fish, you will want to grill the fish on a piece of tinfoil that is lined with parchment paper. This will ensure the fillet will not stick to the grill. 
Now that you're ready to grill seafood like a pro, hit the local markets or catch some local seafood on our beautiful beaches. Have a favorite recipe? We would love to hear about it. We hope you find the perfect seafood recipe to try on your Ocean Isle Beach vacation. Our beautiful homes and pristine beaches make the perfect recipe for a relaxing Ocean Isle Beach vacation. With the temperatures cooling off and beautiful fall sea breezes blowing, it is the perfect time to fire up the grill on the OIB. Still looking for the perfect Ocean Isle Beach vacation? Take a look at the many beautiful homes available for your family getaway this fall. 


 

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