La. seafood is fit for the grill

Richard Bogren, Reames, Elizabeth S.  |  1/4/2011 1:08:27 AM

News Release Distributed 08/03/10

Perfectly grilled seafood is moist and flavorful – and it’s also fast and easy, says LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames.

“Seafood has smaller percentages of bones and connective tissues than equal portions of red meats or poultry,” Reames adds. “It’s an excellent source of protein, is low in fat and saturated fat and contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.”

Consumers don’t need to worry about the safety of eating Louisiana seafood following the oil spill, she says. All Louisiana seafood sold in retail stores and supermarkets, as well as in restaurants, is safe to eat.

Some Louisiana fishing waters have been closed as precautionary measures. But many areas remain open, and officials are conducting tests on both seafood and the water to ensure consumer safety.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries along with federal agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, FDA and EPA are testing more seafood than ever.

“All the tests are coming back showing that Louisiana seafood is safe to eat,” Reames says.

So if you decide to fire up the grill for your favorite Gulf offering, Reames offers these tips for perfectly grilled seafood:

– Preheat an outdoor gas or electric grill for at least 10 minutes. If you’re using a charcoal grill, start the fire about 30 minutes before cooking, let it burn until white-hot, and then spread the coals out in a single layer. To grill fish, a moderately hot fire of 375 to 425 degrees is best.

– Make sure that the grill grates are clean, and then lightly brush them with vegetable oil to prevent the delicate skin of the fish from sticking.

– Place the oiled grate on the grill and adjust the grill height to 4 to 6 inches above the heat. Prepare seafood for grilling by very lightly spraying both sides of it with olive oil or vegetable oil (away from direct flames) and then sprinkling with your favorite seasonings. Avoid brushing or rubbing the seafood with your hands to prevent cross-contaminating other foods.

“Marinating fish an hour before grilling also helps keep it moist,” Reames says. “Shake off excess marinade before grilling to avoid flare-ups. If you’re going to use the marinade as a sauce on top of the cooked fish or seafood, boil the marinade at a rolling boil for 5 minutes to prevent food-borne illness.”

Finfish and large shrimp may be placed directly on the grate. Put smaller varieties in an oiled fish basket, on a small-mesh grilling screen or on perforated aluminum foil for easier handling and to prevent sticking.

Cook small whole or butterflied fish directly over the heat source, and use indirect heat for larger fish. To estimate cooking time, measure the seafood at its thickest part, and grill for 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Fish is done, but still moist, at an internal temperature of 145 degrees and when it turns opaque and just starts to flake when tested with a fork.

“Most seafood needs to be turned halfway through cooking,” Reames says. “Fish fillets thinner than 1 inch don’t need to be turned. Avoid turning fish back and forth because this will break it apart.”

For additional information about Louisiana seafood, contact the LSU AgCenter office in your parish.

Rick Bogren

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