Grilling fish as a summertime alternative

July 24, 2012 7:15:01 AM PDT
Summertime can be a mealtime challenge. On one hand, it's the best season for grilling. But for a lot of people, grilling means mostly meats, and they can feel ":heavy" when it's hot.

Fruit and vegetables are one delicious option, but you can also grill most seafood. We went to Ippolito's Seafood in South Philadelphia...the retail arm of the company that also includes the wholesale giant Samuels and Son.

Your favorite restaurant likely buys from them. Just as grilling improves the flavor of meats and produce, correct grilling can enhance what comes from the sea. But seafood is delicate and easy to burn or dry out. We asked company owner Anthony D'Angelo for some pointers.

First, he told Action News, most fish do best left whole or nearly whole, and with the skin left on. Even if you don't plan to eat it, the skin offers a layer of protection to the delicate flesh inside. Next watch cooking time carefully. This varies, depending on how hot your grill gets. but the general rule is ten minutes on the grill per inch of flesh. D'Angelo divides this 60% on the first side and 40% on the second.

For larger fish like salmon, you're probably buying a fillet instead of the whole fish. In this case, consider buying a cedar "plank", a strip of wood that will protect the fish from the grill. A plank also imparts a delicate smoky taste most people enjoy.

D'Angelo does not recommend trying to grill flaky fish like cod, which he says doesn't fare well. As for seasoning, D'Angelo likes keeping things simple, perhaps just salt and pepper and maybe some garlic. Let your own taste be your guide.

If a fish is split with bones removed, as Ippolito's sells black bass, you might want to stuff some vegetables inside. Otherwise, treat these as a topping or side dish. Again, because fish is more delicate than meat, be careful with sauces...maybe something light, or maybe none at all. And remember that sauces can burn on the grill...not what you want on an expensive piece of fish.

Most shellfish also do well on the grill, but there are tricks. Taking shells off shrimp will get you nice grill marks, but that also raises the risk of drying out. Leaving the shell on preserves moisture.

Ippolito's offers shrimp several ways, including shell-on but cleaned so you and your guests need not worry about deveining. Lobster and crab may be grilled, but their shells add nothing to the process.

D'Angelo recommends grilling soft-shell crabs, and lobsters are also available soft-shell. For lobster tails, do most of the grilling on the shell side then just finish on the flesh side. Scallops cook fast any way you try, and most people like them a little rare. So keep close watch if you're grilling scallops and don't be tempted to walk away. Perhaps easiest of all are creatures like clams, mussels and oysters. Just plop them on the grill. They're done when they open up. But be careful handling, because the shells will be hot!

Ippolito's is located at 13th and Dickinson streets in South Philadelphia, open daily at 10:00am. Most days the store closes at 7:00pm, Fridays at 8:00pm and Sundays at 3:00pm. You may phone them at 215-389-8906. They're ALSO online at Ippolito's.


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