How To Grill

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Season 1

Show 113: Shellfish on the Grill

For most people, the subject of grilled shellfish begins and ends with shrimp. The fact is you can grill almost any sort of shellfish, from mussels to scallops even to lobsters. There's something about the high dry heat of the grill that brings out the sweetness of shellfish. When it comes to shrimp, scallops, clams, even lobsters, this show has you covered.

Today's menu:

  • Bacon grilled shrimp
  • Scallops on rosemary skewers
  • Grilled lobster
  • Grilled mussels and clams

Shrimp and other shellfish are terrific grilled, but being almost pure protein, they tend to dry out. Use these simple techniques to keep shellfish on the grill moist every time.

  • Use a marinade: Coconut milk, olive oil, sesame oil, and or soy sauce all keep shrimp moist during grilling.
  • Use a basting sauce or glaze: As the shrimp grills, brush it with melted butter (or better yet, garlic butter), olive or sesame oil, barbecue sauce, or a rum or sugar-based glaze. This forms a seal to keep the shellfish moist.
  • Wrap it in bacon, pancetta, or prosciutto. The wrapping shields the shrimp from the direcdt heat of the fire and the melting fat bastes the meat.
  • Cook it quickly: the total grilling time for shrimp is 1 to 2 minutes per side.
When grilling split lobsters, pour the juices into a ramekin. Sear the cut side first (start grilling the lobster cut side down), then turn it over. Return the juices to the shell and continue grilling cut side up.

When grilling clams, mussels, and oysters, use a shellfish grate. This perforated metal plate has large holes in it to hold the shellfish upright without spilling the juices. Available at grill shops or from www.barbecuebible.com.

printer-ready version

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer; 4 as a main course.

  • 1-1/2 pounds sea scallops
  • 30 fresh rosemary sprigs (each 3 to 4 inches long)
  • 3 ounces prosciutto, sliced paper thin
for the marinade:
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or basil oil
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Remove the crescent shaped muscle from the side of the scallops. Strip the bottom 2 inches of leaves off the rosemary sprigs. Cut the prosciutto into strips just large enough to wrap around the scallops (about 3/4 by 3 1/2 inches).

2. Lay a scallop flat on your work surface. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around it and skewer it with a rosemary sprig, as shown above. Prepare the remaining scallops the same way. Arrange the scallops on a plate or in a baking dish. Drizzle them on both sides with olive oil, squeeze lemon juice over them (hold one hand under the lemon, fingers closed, to catch the seeds), and season with salt and pepper. (Go easy on the salt, as the prosciutto is fairly salty.) Let marinate for 15 minutes, while you light the grill.

3. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. If you have a fish or vegetable grate, place it on top and preheat as well. (You can also cook the scallops directly on the grill grate.)

4. Brush and oil the grate. Grill the scallops until just cooked, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve at once.

Makes about 30 scallops, enough to serve 6 as an appetizer, 4 as a main course.


Shrimp grills up beautifully on rosemary skewers (with or without the prosciutto), as do cubes of steak, fish, chicken, or even veal. You can certainly use other fresh herbs as skewers, especially stalks of lemongrass.

© 2006 Steven Raichlen | site design Benjamin Wilchfort