Sunday, April 11, 2021
The Culinary Cook Cooking Basics Cooking Fish & Shellfish: Dry-Heat Cooking Methods

Cooking Fish & Shellfish: Dry-Heat Cooking Methods


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Dry-Heat Cooking Methods for Fish & Shellfish

We began with an introduction on how to properly determine doneness. Let us continue as we explore the many different ways to cook fish and shellfish using the dry-heat cooking method! Want to brush up on cooking methods? Check out our post here.

Broiling & Grilling

grilling shellfish and fish
Grilled squid, one of my favorites

Start by brushing flavored (infused) oil or butter onto the fish before grilling directly on the grate or underneath the broiler. Broiled or grilled fish should have a lightly browned surface and a slightly smoky flavor as a result of the intense radiant heat of the broiler or grill. The interior should be moist and juicy. Broiled or grilled shellfish meat should be moist and tender, with only a slight coloration from the grill or broiler.

Selecting Fish and Shellfish to Broil or Grill

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Nearly all types of fish and shellfish can be broiled or grilled. Oily fish are best suited for grilling and include


  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Swordfish

Certain lean fish are well suited to grilling as well, including

  • Bass
  • Snapper


Because most fish are delicately flavored, they should be marinated for only a brief period of time

Fillets of lean flatfish with delicate textures, such as flounder and sole, are better broiled. They should be placed on a preheated broiling platter before being placed under the broiler. Shellfish such as Oysters and clams are best broiled on the half shell with flavored butter, bread crumbs or other garnishes and served sizzling hot. Squid can be stuffed, secured with a toothpick and broiled or grilled.

Brushed with butter, split lobsters, king crabs, and snow crabs are often broiled or grilled. Whole lobsters can be split and broiled or grilled, or their tails can be removed, split and cooked separately. Large crab legs can also be split and broiled or grilled. Shrimp and scallops are often marinated and broiled in flavored butter or grilled on skewers for easy handling.

Seasoning Fish and Shellfish to Be Broiled or Grilled

grilling shellfish and fishAll fish should be brushed lightly with butter or oil before being placed on the grill or the broiler. The butter or oil prevents sticking and helps leaner fish retain moisture. For most fish, a simple seasoning of salt and pepper suffices. But most fish do respond well to marinades, especially those made with white wine and lemon juice.

Because most fish are delicately flavored, they should be marinated for only a brief period of time. And yes, even marinated fish should be brushed with oil/butter before cooking. Herbs should be avoided because they burn under the high heat of a broiler or grill.

Clams, oysters and other shellfish that are stuffed or cooked with butter, vegetables, bacon or other accompaniments or garnishes gain flavor from these ingredients. Be careful, however, not to overpower the delicate flavors of the shellfish with the addition of too many strong flavors.

Basic Procedure for Broiling or Grilling Fish and Shellfish

All fish is delicate and must be carefully handled to achieve an attractive finished product. When broiling whole fish or fillets with the skin still on, score the skin by making several diagonal slashes approximately 1/4″ deep. This prevents the fish from curling during cooking and promotes even cooking.

  1. Heat the Broiler or Grill
  2. Use a wire brush to remove any charred or burnt particles that may be stuck to the broiler or grill grate.
  3. Prepare the item to be broiled or grilled. For example, cut the fish into steaks or fillets of even thickness; split the lobster; feel and/or skewer the shrimp. Season or marinate the item as desired. Brush the item with oil or butter
  4. Place the item (presentation side down) on a grill. If using a broiler, place the item directly on the grate or on a preheated broiler platter. Tender fish is usually broiled presentation side up on a broiler platter.
  5. If practical, turn the item to produce the attractive crosshatch marks associated with grilling.
  6. Cook the item to the desired doneness and serve immediately

That covers the basics of cooking fish and shellfish using the dry-heat cooking methods. We’ve also explored the various seasonings to use and went over briefly the types of fish that are best suited for broiling or grilling.

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The Culinary Cook

Professional Chef & Blogger

With 15 years of experience working in restaurants, resorts, and a fully Red Seal Certified chef, The Culinary Cook shares tips, tricks, and recipes for everyone to enjoy.

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