Memorial Day and the grill go hand-in-hand.
Burgers, hot dogs and steaks will be the order of the day.
In some instances, the outcome will be grand. In others, the outlook is dim.
Grilling is almost an art form, with so many things to consider: the kind of grill, the source of the fire, the distance the food is kept from the fire, the kind of food, the skill of the cook, the quality of the ingredients.
The lucky few of us who live on the Coast, however, have access to fresh seafood.
Large shrimp, shell on, are a great alternative to more traditional grill fare. It takes only a moment or two for them to be done and before there is plenty of delicious, buttery, spicy goodness.
Oysters also can be grilled in many guises, if the cook has the proper skills.
A grilled whole fish (yes, that is with the head on) can be grilled with nothing but a few herbs and lemon.
Seafood grilling tips
I am not as adamant about cooking seafood over a hard wood fire as I am about doing so with beef, but it is always a good choice. Hardwood charcoal, or even conventional charcoal also are good choices.
A conventional gas grill is not a good option, I am sorry to say, but if it is all you have, then so be it.
If you follow no other advice I offer, please, be sure to buy your seafood fresh, not frozen, from a local fish market.
Fresh seafood smells like the sea, never fishy, and the eyes are clear, like those of your sober aunt.
1 pound large, head on shrimp
¼ cup olive oil
2/3 stuck butter
2-3 smashed cloves garlic
Small bunch cilantro
Leaving the head on the shrimp makes all the difference in getting a juicy, moist shrimp. Don’t take them off. Melt the butter in a sauté pan, add the garlic and cook to flavor the oil, but don’t burn the garlic, add the chopped cilantro at the end. Toss the shrimp in a little olive oil.
Build a smoking hot fire, and when it is at the hottest point, lay the shrimp out on the grill, cook only until you can see the grill marks, just a minute or two, then turn them over. When done, total cooking time is less than four minutes; toss them in the flavored butter and serve at once.
Grilled Red Snapper
1 whole red snapper
4-6 bay leaves
1 lemon, cut into thin slices
Salt and pepper
Stuff the fish cavity with bay leaves and lemon slices. Rub a little olive oil on the outside and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill and cook until tender and done. The flesh will easily flake when it is ready. Turn carefully and cook the other side. Remove from the grill, plate, spritz with a little more olive oil and serve at once.
6-12 oysters per person (on the half shell)
This is as easy as it gets. Add a tab of butter to each oyster and grill over a hot fire just until bubbly. They do not have to be cooked through. The combination of the oyster liquor and hot butter is divine and no other seasonings are required.