Follow these simple steps to seafood grilling success.

By Julia Dowling Rutland and Lacey N. Howard
May 16, 2003

Keep the sizzle. If unsure about your remaining fuel level,buy spare charcoal or propane.

Start with a clean grill, since food sticks to dirty grates.It's easier to clean a hot grate than a cool one. A few good passeswith a stiff wire brush after each cookout will keep the grillprepped for your next one.

Move freestanding grills away from flammable materials suchas dry grasses or shrubs.

Preheat and don't cheat. Wonder why your food sticks to thegrill? It's not that you need to coat the grate with more oil (andget more flare-ups); instead, make sure the grill is hot enough.Listen for the sizzle when your food touches the hot grate. Whenyou're ready to turn it, try to loosen food with a spatula. If itdoesn't move, it needs to sear longer. Seared food will releaseeasily and show the distinctive marks.

Add a hint of smoky flavor to grilled foods with aromaticwood chips. But use sparingly as the effect can overpower delicatefish. For a different twist, try sprigs of herbs such as rosemary,thyme, or oregano.

Cook firm, meaty fish such as tuna, salmon, or swordfishdirectly on the grill. Put delicate flounder or trout in a grillbasket. Turn fish only once or flesh may break apart.

Skewer shrimp and scallops for easiest handling. Thread 2skewers, about 1/2 inch apart, through the food to keep it fromrotating while it's being turned during cooking.

Grill large shellfish directly on the grate; place smallervarieties such as mussels or clams in an open grill basket forsimple removal. Some shellfish, especially oysters, may not openfully when cooked; if they don't open at least 1/8 inch,discard.

Marinate seafood 30 minutes to an hour in the refrigerator.When marinade doubles as a sauce, set some aside before combiningwith fish. Or combine it, and after removing the fish, boil themarinade for 5 minutes to kill any bacteria present.

Don't play with your food! Flipping meat repeatedly,squeezing it with a spatula, or piercing with a fork lets outflavorful juices and dries food.