7 Shellfish Recipes Turning You Into a Grill Master
Summer is the season of sun, fun, and firing up the grill. In honor of our favorite way to cook when it’s hot outside, we’re bringing you our Grill Master series where we’ll highlight a different food each week. Follow along to learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cooking over open flames.
Even as folks are becoming more accustomed to cooking seafood at home, shellfish usually gets left behind. Those armor-like shells and spines are just putting on a show, though. The Arizona Republic explained most shellfish are really easy to cook. The article shared a whole slew of tips on buying and storing the seafood to help you shop with confidence. While indoor preparations are most common, these ingredients all work just as well on the grill. Give these seven recipes a shot to get over your fear of shellfish and enjoy every bite.
1. Grilled Lobster with Smoky Garlic Mojo
Boiling a pot of water is the standard method of cookery for lobsters, but it doesn’t do much to impart flavor to the crustacean. This grilled version from Rick Bayless gets a double dose of smoke thanks to grilling the seafood and a little bit of chipotle in the sauce. With so much flavor, you’ll never go back to boring lobster dipped in butter.
While this recipe sounds complicated, it’s actually really easy. Splitting the lobster tails before grilling is good for a number of reasons: it allows you to add some of the flavorful sauce to the meat, the pieces cook faster, and you’ll be able to see when they’re finished instead of having to guess. The recipe opts for an elegant presentation with just the meat, sauce, and some garnishes. That’s great for a sophisticated evening, but we also love to tuck the lobster into tortillas for a new take on tacos.
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled, and halved
- ⅔ cup chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 canned chipotle chile in adobo, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 4 (5- to 6-ounce) lobster tails
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 large lime, cut into wedges
Directions: Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. In a small skillet or saucepan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook until soft, lightly brown, and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Pour garlic oil into food processor, add broth, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Blend until smooth, then pour one-quarter of mixture into a small bowl. Return remaining sauce to skillet, and stir in the chipotle. Keep warm over low heat.
With a large, heavy knife, cut lobster tails in half, lengthwise. Using the small amount of garlic sauce, brush mixture over flesh side of each lobster tail half. Season with salt, and lay flesh-side down on grill. Once browned, about 2 minutes, flip, and cook until meat is fully cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer lobster to plates, top with warm sauce, and sprinkle with cilantro Serve with lime wedges.
2. Grilled Scallops with Lemon Chickpea Salad
It seems like nearly every restaurant has seared scallops on the menu. That browned exterior can only be achieved over high heat, so it’s surprising that not many people think to grill the shellfish. Give it a try with Health’s simple seafood and salad combo. To get the most color and ensure they don’t stick, pat the scallops dry with a few layers of paper towels before cooking.
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed, and drained
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- Chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Fresh lemon juice
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ pound sea scallops, rinsed, and dried
- 4 cups baby spinach
Directions: Preheat grill to high. Combine chickpeas, garlic, celery, ⅓ cup parsley, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon oil. Toss to coat. Drizzle scallops with 2 teaspoons oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Toss, and season with salt and pepper. Grill scallops 2 to 3 minutes per side, until just firm. Toss spinach with 1 tablespoon each of juice and olive oil. Top greens with chickpea mixture and scallops. Serve.
3. Baltimore Grilled Crab Cakes
Plenty of cities have signature foods they take very seriously. New York has pizza, Philadelphia has cheese steaks, and Baltimore has crab cakes. Mario Batali’s delicious seafood patties, featured on ABC’s The Chew, get a bit of a twist by cooking in a skillet set right on the grill. They also get some surprise ingredients: Canadian bacon, lime zest, and scallion. They might not be the most traditional crab cakes, but you’ll be wowed by the flavor after just one bite.
- 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- Several dashes hot sauce
- 1½ pounds lump crab meat, picked over
- Zest of 2 limes
- 4 scallions, green parts only, finely chopped
- 5 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 3 ounces Canadian bacon, finely chopped
- 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 large egg
- 5 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- Lime wedges
- Hot sauce
Directions: In a small bowl, mix together all sauce ingredients. Cover, and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
In a medium bowl, gently mix crab, lime zest, scallions, parsley, Canadian bacon, mayonnaise, egg, and breadcrumbs. Season with Old Bay, salt, and pepper. Gently shape into 10 cakes, about 1-inch thick and 2 inches in diameter.
Place cakes on a plate with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least one hour.
Heat a nonstick skillet on the grill, and add 3 tablespoons olive oil Arrange crab cakes in pan in an even layer. Work in batches, if needed. Cook about 3 minutes, until crab is golden. Flip, and cook 3 minutes longer. Serve cakes with a dollop of sauce, lime wedges, and hot sauce.
4. Grilled Clams with Basil Breadcrumbs
Clams seem to only make an appearance on the table when there’s pasta involved, which is such a shame. These little bivalves have a sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with tons of different ingredients. Ina Garten lets them star in this simple dish, featured on Food Network.
The clams will open after no more than five minutes on the grill. Then, toss them with a fragrant breadcrumb mixture that features basil, pine nuts, and sun-dried tomatoes, and finish with a drizzle of butter. This dish is as easy to make for a crowd as it is for a few, so go ahead and make a double batch for a party. Your guests will go nuts, and there won’t be a noodle in sight.
- 1½ cups coarse breadcrumbs, toasted
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained, and chopped
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 24 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Directions: Heat a gas grill or prepare a charcoal grill. Combine breadcrumbs, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, dried tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, salt, and pepper in a large serving bowl. Set aside.
When grill is hot, place clams in one layer over hot grate, and allow heat to open gradually, about 5 minutes. Once the clams have popped all the way open, remove from grill, and add to bowl with breadcrumbs. Toss, and drizzle with melted butter. Serve.
5. Grilled Mussels with Curry Butter
You could shell out plenty of money to dig into some tasty mussels at a restaurant, but why bother? These shellfish are a complete bargain at the seafood counter, and they’re ridiculously easy to cook. This dish from Allrecipes.com infuses the mussels with tons of flavor thanks to a spice-packed butter. Since this method uses foil packets, you’ll have hardly anything to clean up.
Whenever you cook with mussels, you want to give them a good scrub before. Put the shellfish in a large bowl and cover them with water. You’ll be surprised at how much grit comes off, and you’ll probably have to repeat the process a few times. Most importantly, you need to remove the beards because they’re very unpleasant to eat. All you have to do is grasp the little tuft and give it a firm pull.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed, and debearded
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 lime, thinly sliced
- 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
Directions: Preheat grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil grate. Whisk together butter, garlic, curry powder, cumin, and salt in a small bowl.
Arrange four large sheets of aluminum foil on a work surface. Divide mussels evenly into center of each foil sheet. Dot mussels with curry butter, then sprinkle bell pepper and parsley evenly over each. Top with lime slices, then fold foil, and seal to close.
Cook packets on grill until mussels open, 5 to 10 minutes. Discard any that don’t open. Transfer mussels to bowls, and serve with lime wedges.
6. Grilled Oysters with Spicy Tarragon Butter
If the thought of slurping down a raw oyster makes your skin crawl, try a cooked preparation instead. Bobby Flay’s version, which he shared with Food & Wine, gets tons of flavor with a hot sauce and herb butter. Because these oysters are cooked, the shells will open on their own. That means you don’t have to worry about shucking.
Aside from their delicious taste, oysters could help you out in the bedroom. Men’s Health reported the shellfish are loaded with zinc, which could enhance libido by boosting testosterone production. If that’s not a good enough reason to give oysters a try, we don’t know what is.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons chopped tarragon
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 36 medium to large oysters
Directions: Light a grill. In a food processor, pulse butter with tarragon, hot sauce, salt, and pepper until combined. Transfer mixture to a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll into a 2-inch-thick log. Refrigerate until slightly firm, about 15 minutes. Slice butter into 36 pats.
Place oysters on grill, flat-side up. Cover, and grill until oysters open, about 5 minutes. Transfer oysters to a platter, being careful not to lose liquid in shells. Remove top shells, and loosen from bottom shell, leaving in the shell. Top each with a pat of butter, then return to grill. Cover, and cook until butter melts and oysters are hot, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.
7. Grilled Shrimp and Smoky Grilled-Corn Grits
Take this classic out of the kitchen and into your backyard with Southern Living’s easy recipe. Adding some grilled corn and cheddar to quick-cooking grits gives you a super flavorful base in hardly any time. You can also cook the porridge right on the grill. Just make sure to find a spot hot enough to bring the liquid to a boil before proceeding. Serve up the creamy grits with some shrimp and veggie skewers for a complete meal. You might have found your new favorite recipe.
- 2 ears corn
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup quick-cooking grits
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 teaspoons minced chipotle chile in adobo
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 4 ounces mushrooms, quartered
- 1 small green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
Directions: Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Grill corn, covered, about 10 minutes, turning once. Cut kernels from cobs, and discard cobs.
Bring salt and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits. Cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 8 minutes. Stir in corn, cheese, and chipotle. Cover, and keep warm.
Stir together olive oil and next three ingredients in a large bowl. Toss shrimp with olive oil mixture, and let sit 3 minutes. Remove shrimp from marinade, and discard marinade. Thread shrimp onto skewers, alternating with tomatoes, mushrooms, and peppers.
Grill skewers, covered, until shrimp are just cooked, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve with grits, and sprinkle with cilantro.