How to cook seafood over an open flame

Author: John Susman
Photography: William Meppem

As much as I love seafood steamed, roasted and fried, for me the best method of cooking a fish is over a fire. You can barbecue whole fish and fillets with equal success. It really is magnificent and easy to do, too.

Briquettes might seem the very definition of one-touch convenience, but they tend to burn too bright, too fast, meaning you don't get that steady, intense heat so desired when cooking over coals. Instead, start by using good-quality charcoal; it'll last longer, cooks with a more consistent heat and imparts a beautiful flavour that's neither tannic or harsh. Before cooking your fish, always allow all flames to die down until you're left with white ash.

Choosing the right type of fish is important; some don't work as well over coals, like fillets of flounder, whiting or garfish. The best fish for the barbecue are those with a firm, dense and ideally oily or fatty flesh - species like salmon, mackerel, sardines, swordfish or kingfish.

When cooking whole fish, dry it well before putting it on the grill. For a lovely, smoky flavour, you can place an upturned casserole dish over the top and stoke the coals with rosemary and thyme. The fish is done when it lifts off the bone with ease. I like mine a little underdone so the flesh is just translucent at the core. Most important of all, relax while the fire does the work.

Here are some of our favourite summer seafood recipes to try.







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