• The Fiery Foods and Barbecue Supersite
  • Recipe of the Day
  • All About Chiles
  • BBQ, Grilling & Smoking
  • Burn Blog
  • Videos
  • PodCast
  • Fiery Foods & BBQ Show
  • Scovie Awards
 Login / Logout

Barbecue Inferno: The Seafood Grill PDF Print E-mail

Excerpt from Barbecue Inferno,
by Dave DeWitt and Nancy Gerlach

Published by Ten Speed Press
and available from


Barbecue Inferno book


Gingered and Grilled Shrimp Salad

Recipe Index:

  • Belizean Rubbed and Grilled Fish Burger

  • Chile-Infused Red Snapper, Veracruz-Style

  • Grilled Salmon Steaks with Green Chile Lime Sauce

  • Trinidadian Wood-Grilled Shark Steaks

  • Coconut-Smoked Mahi-Mahi with Curried Pineapple Serrano Salsa

  • Wasabi-Marinated Mahi Tuna with Asian Chile Slaw

  • Chile-Grilled Scallops with Coconut Mint Chutney

  • Gingered and Grilled Shrimp Salad with Crispy Red Chile-Dusted Eggroll Strips (photo)

  • Spicy Grilled Coconut Shrimp Kabobs with Jalapeño-Cilantro Cous Cous

  • Smoked Oysters with Ancho Chile Sauce

You think chicken is difficult to cook on the grill? Try grilling fish. At least chicken breasts don’t fall apart and crumble into the fire. But fish can and does, especially if it sticks to the grill and you’re trying to turn it with a spatula. Another possible disaster is a tendency for fatty fish, or fish saturated with oils in the marinade, to burn intensely during a flare-up. Dave lost a mackerel fillet that way on a charcoal grill on the beach in Islamorada, Florida. "The fatty fish ignited like a flare and before I could run for water, the fillet resembled a stick of charcoal," he notes for the record. Even a minor flare-up that catches the fish on fire can spoil the flavor of the fish, so have a squirt gun or spray bottle nearby whenever you grill fish or other seafood.

Another thing that can go wrong with grilled fish is the dreaded over-marination. Fish has this tendency to absorb the marinade so much that the intense flavors can overwhelm the fish, especially delicate white fish. Stick to the suggested marinade times in the individual recipes.

It is especially important to have a clean, well-oiled grill surface when working with fish, and a fish basket is not only recommended for the fillets, but also is also handy for fish steaks. Also, there are special fish turners that you can buy. They have tongs like a fork that fit into the spaces in the grill so that you can get under the piece of fish without scraping.

Smoking fish is less confrontational. A light smoke can be applied during the grilling process, but the most intense smoke is usually reserved for thick hunks of salmon that have been treated with a liquid spice cure first. Interestingly, while there are a lack of cook-offs devoted to barbecued chicken, but there are several devoted to salmon in California and Washington!

With the exception of large, whole fish, it is very difficult to take the temperature of fish with an instant-read thermometer, which necessitates "eyeballing" the fish to see when it is done. The rule of thumb for seafood is that fish is done when the outside flakes easily with a fork, and shrimp and scallops are done when they lose their translucency and become opaque.

Fish on the Grill Preparation Hints

"Fish and seafood pick up marinade flavors quickly. Marinating for 15 minutes to an hour should be sufficient. Do not over-marinate, or fish flesh will break down and become mushy. At their simplest, marinades and bastes can be a light application of oil with salt and pepper seasoning. Woods and herbs added to the gill offer another means of flavor enhancement. Fish cooks so quickly over a hot fire that your addition of soaked wood chips or herbs will not penetrate as effectively as will slow smoking with a closed lid grill. But, the heavenly odor in your backyard is worth a try." –Karen Adler

A Driftwood Barbecue

"My mother, who loved a bonfire, and even more, loved to cook over one, could make the wettest driftwood burn into blazing glory with a deft turn of the paper and kindling. Alas, such a skill as this is more or less a lost art. Nowadays there is something artificial to carry along which is quick and foolproof. Very few people every attempt to cook over the delicious coals produced by a wood fire. Everyone cooks with charcoal briquets. Not that I have anything against briquets, but I sometimes wish for one of those great fires make with bark that has aged in the sea and drifted onto the beach to dry." –James Beard, 1960


Belizean Rubbed and Grilled Fish Burger

This particular "burger" is a fired-up re-creation of a fish sandwich Nancy devoured in the tiny town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, Belize, in 1985. The restaurant was called Elvies Burger Isle, and the diners sat outside under a tamarind tree on picnic benches. If ever there was a simple to prepare, quick and easy fish recipe with significant heat, this is it. Serve with french fries, crisp cole slaw, and to toast Elvie, a frosty tamarind cooler.

  • 1 teaspoon ground habanero chile

  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme

  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 4 small white fish fillets, such as snapper, trigger fish, or grouper

  • 4 rolls

  • Your favorite salsa or hot sauce

In a bowl, combine the chile, salt, garlic, thyme, allspice and nutmeg. Brush the fillets with the oil and dust with the spice mixture. Allow to sit at room temperature while you prepare the grill.

Cut the rolls in half length-wise and brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Grill the fish in a grill basket over medium heat until done, about 5 minutes per side, or until the fillets flake.

Grill the rolls to slightly warm. Place the fish on rolls and top with a sauce of choice, even if it’s store-bought.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Varies, but usually medium

Chile-Infused Red Snapper, Veracruz-Style

This is one of the most delicious Mexican coastal fish recipes. It is served in Veracruz, the area of Mexico most influenced by Spanish cooking, but is popular all over the country. Often the snapper is dusted with flour and pan fried, then covered with a sauce, but we prefer ours beach-style. We grill it over wood or natural charcoal (gas is acceptable, too) and then serve it with the sauce on the side. Charring the tomatoes on the grill adds a smoky dimension to the sauce. This elegant and colorful fish is served with white rice and additional pickled jalapeños.

The Snapper

  • 1 3 to 4-pound whole dressed red snapper

  • 1 lime, cut in half

  • 1/4 cup ground chile de arbol, or substitute New Mexican ground red chile

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Olive oil

  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Veracruz Sauce

  • 6 small tomatoes

  • 1 small onion

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 4 canned picked jalapeño chiles (jalapeños en escabeche), seeds removed, cut in thin strips

  • 1 tablespoon juice from the pickled jalapeños

  • ½ cup sliced pimiento-stuffed olives

  • 1 tablespoon capers

  • ½ teaspoon sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • Salt and pepper to taste

With a knife, lightly score the fish on both sides. Sprinkle lime juice over the whole fish, inside and out. In a small bowl, combine the chile and salt and mix well. Sprinkle the fish with the mixture inside and out..

To make the sauce, roast the tomatoes and onions on the grill until charred evenly. Remove and chop. In a small pan, saute the garlic in oil until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened. Season with salt and pepper, and remove the bay leaves.

Place the fish on the grill indirectly over a low fire, baste with olive oil, and cook about 1 hour per side, turning twice and basting with the oil. The fish should flake easily, and the internal temperature of the fish at its thickest part should be 135 degrees F. for medium.

Place the fish on a serving platter and pour the most of the sauce over it. At the table, carve the fish and serve it with some sauce spooned over each portion. Garnish with the parsley. Serve with heated corn tortillas, and the additional sauce on the table.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Heat Scale: Mild

Grilled Salmon Steaks with Green Chile Lime Sauce

Here is a simple salmon recipe that’s quick to prepare but tastes great. You can literally whip it up while you are starting the grill. Feel free to flavor this with a little light smoke–say apple or other fruitwoods. Serve with a creamy rissoto, arugula, and tomato salad and a chilled white wine.

The Salmon

  • 4 salmon steaks

  • Olive oil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Green Chile Lime Sauce

  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

  • 3 roasted and peeled New Mexico green chiles, stems and seeds removed

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon lime zest

Brush the steaks with the oil and season with the salt and pepper. Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Grill the steaks over a medium fire for about 8 minutes, turning several times, or until the fish flakes on the outside.

To serve, pour some of the sauce on individual plates, place the steaks on top of the sauce, and top with additional sauce.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Medium

Trinidadian Wood-Grilled Shark Steaks

Here is a tasty option for cooking shark, or, for that matter, any firm fish that is big enough to have steaks cut from it, such as swordfish. We prefer to grill over hardwood rather than charcoal briquets, and two of the best woods to use are pecan and hickory. Mesquite can be substituted, but it imparts a strong flavor to the fish. Dave collected this recipe in Trinidad, where a dish called Shark and Bake is a specialty. Serve with conch chowder, curried cauliflower, potatoes, peas, and a fruit chutney..

  • 4 shark steaks

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

  • ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper

  • 1/8 cup sherry

  • 1 habanero chile, seeds and stems removed, minced

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

Combine the shark steaks, lime juice, black pepper, sherry, and habanero in a non-reactive bowl and marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Remove the steaks and pat them dry. Combine the olive oil and salt and spread the mixture over the steaks. Place the steaks in a hinged wire basket (for easy turning) and grill over hot hardwood coals, taking care that the dripping olive oil does not cause flames to burn the steak. Grill for about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steaks, or until the fish flakes easily.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Mild

Coconut-Smoked Mahi-Mahi with Curried Pineapple Serrano Salsa

Mahi-mahi is the Hawaiian term for the fish also called dorado in Spanish and dolphin in English. This recipe also works well with "fishier" fish such as kingfish, bluefish, and mackerel. Yes, you can substitute steaks for the fillets, but be sure to adjust the cooking time. Smoking with coconut gives the fish a sweet flavor with tropical overtones. This recipe is designed for a water smoker or a charcoal grill with indirect heat, a water-filled pan beneath the fish and the coconut placed on the coals. Use a fish grill basket with handles for easy turning. Serve with lemon cashew rice, spring asparagus spears, and Key lime pie.


  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons rice wine

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • 2 teaspoons ground habanero chile

  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger

  • 1 fresh coconut, broken in pieces, reserving the milk

  • 4 mahi-mahi fillets, or substitute snapper or grouper

Curried Pineapple Serrano Salsa

  • 1 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut in 1/4-inch slices

  • 3 serrano chiles, stems removed, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder

  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

In a bowl, combine the oil, rice wine, lime juice, chile, and ginger to make a marinade. Place the fish in a non-reactive dish, pour the marinade over the top and marinate, covered, at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.

Prepare a fire in a water smoker or a charcoal grill and when hot, place the coconut pieces on the coals. Pour the reserved coconut milk in the pan along with the water. Smoke the fish for 1 to 2 hours or until the fish flakes, keeping a very low heat. You may quickly baste a couple of times with the marinade, if desired, to keep the fish from drying out.

To make the salsa, grill the pineapple slices or heat in a pan for 5 to 10 minutes until the pineapple is browned. Dice the pineapple. Combine all the ingredients for the salsa, except for the cilantro, and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour to blend the flavors. Toss

with the cilantro.

Place the fish on individual pates, top with a little salsa, and serve the remaining salsa on the side.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Medium

Wasabi-Marinated Mahi Tuna with Asian Chile Slaw

Wasabi is an extremely powerful Japanese horseradish that can be found as a powder or as a paste in easy-to-use tubes. If using it as a powder, reconstitute it in rice wine vinegar. This tuna should be served medium-rare.

Wasabi Marinade

  • 5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 ½ tablespoons wasabi paste

  • 1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots

  • 1 tablespoon hot mustard

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 serrano or jalapeño chile, seeds and stems removed, minced

The Tuna

  • 4 ahi tuna steaks or substitute swordfish

  • Asian Chile Slaw

  • Dressing

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil, peanut preferred

  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla), available in Asian markets

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 4 small fresh Thai chiles (prik kee nu), stems removed, minced, or substitute 2 serrano chiles

  • 2 teaspoon finely sliced green onions

  • Salt and white pepper

The Salad

  • 2 cups finely shredded Napa or regular cabbage

  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots

  • 1/4 cup finely sliced green onions, including the greens

  • 1/4 cup sliced edible pea pods, sliced lengthwise

  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts

  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes to blend the flavors.

Place the fish in a single layer in a non-reactive bowl, pour the marinade over the fish and turn to coat. Cover and marinate for an hour at room temperature.

For the slaw, whisk together all the dressing ingredients and allow to sit, covered, at room temperature for 30 minutes to blend the flavors.

Grill the fish over a medium fire for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until just done, medium rare. Cut one of the steaks open to check for doneness.

To make the salad, toss together the cabbage, carrots, onions, and pea pods. Toss with just enough of the dressing to coat. Garnish with the peanuts and cilantro.

To serve, place the fish on a plate and serve with the slaw on the side.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Mild

Chile-Grilled Scallops with Coconut Mint Chutney

The chutney is a nice and spicy accompaniment to the creamy taste of the scallops. We love habanero chiles in it, but use a serrano for less heat and a slightly different flavor. If you don’t have fresh coconut, substitute 1 ½ cups flaked coconut. Serve with lemon rice pilaf and grilled mango slices.

Coconut Mint Chutney

  • 1 cup grated fresh coconut

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

  • ½ cup chopped onions

  • 1/4 cup chopped ginger

  • 1 habanero chile, seeds and stem removed, minced

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint

Chile-Grilled Scallops

  • 2 pounds scallops

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons ground New Mexican red chile

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the chutney, combine the coconut and the lemon juice in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add the onion, ginger, chiles, salt and blend, adding enough water to make a smooth paste. Heat the oil, add the mustard seeds and fry until they begin to sizzle. Add the coconut paste and heat. Allow to cool and stir in the mint.

To make the scallops, blanch the scallops in boiling water for 2 ½ minutes. Drain and pat dry. In a bowl, add the oil and toss the scallops. Sprinkle the scallops with the chile, salt, and pepper and toss well to coat evenly.. Thread the scallops on skewers and grill over medium hot fire until they are golden brown outside and opaque throughout, about 5 to 6 minutes, turning occasionally.

Serve the scallops with the chutney drizzled over them or on the side.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Heat Scale: Medium

Gingered and Grilled Shrimp Salad with Crispy Red Chile-Dusted Eggroll Strips

The marinade in this recipe also doubles as the dressing for the salad. We like to serve this salad with the shrimp hot off the grill, but it can be prepared ahead and served chilled. This is a meal in itself, but why not treat yourself to a chilled gazpacho and a dry white wine?

Gingered Shrimp Marinade and Dressing

  1. 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  2. 1/4 cup peanut oil

  3. 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

  4. 6 small Thai chiles, stems removed, minced (or substitute serrano chiles)

  5. 2 tablespoons minced ginger

  6. 1 tablespoon chopped green onions, including the green tops

  7. 1 tablespoon dry sherry

  8. 1 teaspoon five-spice powder

  9. 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  10. ½ teaspoon sesame oil

Grilled Shrimp Salad

  • 24 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, tails off

  • Vegetable oil for frying

  • 4 eggroll wrappers, cut in 1/4-inch strips

  • Ground New Mexico red chile

  • Mixed baby greens

  • 3 slices red onion

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Place in a bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour or two.

Strain the marinade, saving both the solids and the liquid. Combine the solids with additional peanut oil and brush on the shrimp. Place in a bowl and marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

Pour the oil in a deep-fat fryer or in a wok to a depth of a couple of inches and heat until hot, 375 degrees. Add the eggroll strips in batches and fry for 30 seconds to crisp. Remove, drain and sprinkle with the ground red chile.

Place the shrimp in a vegetable basket and grill over a medium-hot fire for about 6 minutes, shaking the shrimp often so that they are cooked evenly.

Toss the greens with the reserved marinade liquid and divide between chilled salad plates. Arrange the sliced onion over the salads and top with the shrimp. Garnish the salads with the crispy strips and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Medium

Spicy Grilled Coconut Shrimp Kabobs with Jalapeño-Cilantro Cous Cous

A staple in North Africa, cous cous is wheat in granular form that is usually steamed. It is often combined with meats or vegetables, and of course we’ve added chiles to it. The marinade is quite sweet–but works well with the shrimp. Interestingly, this is a re-creation of a dish Nancy was served in the British Virgin Islands. Serve with a salad of star fruit, avocado, and grapefruit, and a cooling Key lime sorbet for dessert.

Sweet-Hot Coconut Marinade

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground habanero chile

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or substitute ½ teaspoon dried thyme

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1/4 cup coconut cream

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, fresh preferred

  • 2 dozen medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, tails on

Jalapeño-Cilantro Cous Cous

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 shallots, chopped

  • 1 jalapeño chile, stem and seeds removed, minced

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 2 cups chicken broth

  • 1 cup cous cous

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Assemble the Kabobs

  • 1 green or red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut in wedges

  • 1 small onion, cut and separated into wedges

  • 3 to 4 jalapeño chiles, stems and seeds removed, cut in slivers

  • 8 cherry tomatoes

Combine the brown sugar, pepper, garlic, thyme, honey, and coconut milk, and mix well. Slowly whisk the oil in the marinade. Place the shrimp in a bowl and pour the marinade over them, coating them well. Cover and marinate the shrimp for 1 hour at room temperature.

For the cous cous, heat the oil in a pan and saute the garlic, shallot, and jalapeño until soft. Stir in the thyme. In a pan, bring the chicken broth to a boil and pour over the couscous in a bowl, flake with a fork and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid. Add the shallot mixture, cilantro, and thyme and toss to mix well. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Remove the shrimp from the marinade. Thread the shrimp on skewers alternating with the vegetables. Grill the shrimp over a medium fire, basting frequently with the marinade until done, about 6 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally.

To serve, spoon the cous cous onto a warm serving platter. Lay the kabobs over the cous cous and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Medium

Smoked Oysters with Ancho Chile Sauce

This is a recipe that requires hot smoke and a lot of it for a short period of time. Instead of 200 degree smoke from your smoker or grill, try for about 400 degrees. Oysters can also be grilled by placing the on the grill over high heat until the shells open, about 6 to 10 minutes, then top with the sauce and serve.

The Oysters

  • 24 large oysters, shucked, reserving the liquid

Lime Marinade

  • ½ cup reserved oyster liquid

  • ½ cup clam juice

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • Juice of 1 lime

Ancho Chile Sauce

  • 1 ancho chile, seeds and stems removed

  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce 3 tablespoons tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons chopped onions

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

  • Pinch ground cloves

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

Shuck the oysters, saving the liquid. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Place the oysters in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over them. Marinate the oysters for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Remove and drain. Keep refrigerated until used.

Soak the ancho chile in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes until soft remove and drain.

Combine the chiles, onions, garlic, and the vinegar in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add a little water if necessary. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and the spices and continue to puree until smooth. Saute the sauces in the oil until almost dry, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice and cilantro.

Build a hot fire in the smoker or grill and add hickory or other hardwood chips or chunks, as you need a lot of smoke.

Put about ½ to 1 teaspoon of sauce on each oyster. Place the oysters in a grill basket on the grill, close the cover and smoke for 10 minutes

Serve immediately with any additional sauce on the side. Oysters remaining on the grill too long will overcook.

Yield: 2 dozen

Heat Scale: Medium

Top of Page

Ready for more BBQ? See also:  Barbecue Inferno: The Inside Story  or  Outdoor Heat and Three Appetizer Recipes


Comments (0)

Subscribe to this comment's feed

Write comment

smaller | bigger
security image
Write the displayed characters


Copyright© 1997-2015, Sunbelt Shows, Inc.
No portion of this site may be reproduced in any medium
without the written permission of the copyright holder.