Halibut holds up well to grilling, and makes perfect fish tacos as well. Image source: Flickr CC user Keith McDuffee
If I think back to my childhood, I can’t really think of many family barbecues that stick out in my mind, except for the time we had a family picnic at the farm where my aunt boards her horses. We had an entire day of eating, playing kickball, and riding. Assuming most people don’t have an aunt with a horse farm, I find myself thinking a lot about ways to throw a memorable get together that is both low stress and a lot of fun.
And when I think of where I enjoy spending my summer days off, there is no better place to be than on the beach. Everyone loves a get together at the beach, yet most people satisfy their beach-going hunger with limp sandwiches or hotdogs. A beachfront barbecue featuring super fresh seafood will make your gathering memorable.
My first selection has to be some sort of a seafood salad but mayonnaise is way too heavy for a summer gathering, and a salad with mayonnaise sitting in the sun is pretty unappealing. For me, nothing is more refreshing than lime, so I start with limes as the base for the dish. And when I think of summer, I think mangoes, so those had to go in, too.
Now we have to think about our seafood choices for the salad. You can use any kind of shellfish that you like, but grilled scallops and shrimp are easy to obtain and popular with nearly everyone. You will need about two pounds of jumbo scallops and two pounds of bay shrimp (you can get the shrimp fresh and already cooked for you). I like to grill the scallops because it brings in a slightly charred flavor to the dish.
Even if the shrimp are already cooked, you can skewer them and lay them on the grill for a minute or two on each side. Once you have cooked your seafood, chop it up and mix it in with the base. Smoked sea salt and pepper--and a dash of cayenne, if your guests like spice--are a great way to finish the salad.
It’s the perfect dish for a party since you can make it ahead of time (if you’re grilling the seafood at the beach, just make the base) and pack it in a cooler. This particular recipe feeds between 16 and 20 people so if your family is as large as mine, you may need to double the recipe.
Interactive menus are great because they get guests involved in the creative cooking process. I think it’s always fun to set up a taco bar in the summer, or in this case a fish taco bar! Just wait until you see the looks of envy you will get from other beachgoers grilling hamburgers and hotdogs.
Besides getting your guests involved, it also eliminates having to deal with picky eaters since they will choose what does or does not go on their plate. Most of the prep for this can be done ahead of time so that all you have to do is set everything out on ice. You will want the usual taco accompaniments like tomatoes, onions, salsa, cheese, tortillas etc., but I would also add a few toppings that will really set off your taco.
Mix together the following and let it refrigerate overnight:
You will never want just plain sour cream on your tacos again!
You will, of course, need to cook the seafood at the last minute, but I find it is best to marinate it ahead of time. Most people think about cod when they’re planning to make fish tacos, but it’s not actually the best choice when it comes to grilling. Cod is just too flaky and delicate--and easily overcooked--which makes it difficult to grill.
Your best bet would be to go with fresh mahi mahi, sea bass, or--my personal favorite--halibut, as these are firm enough to stand up to the grill. Whichever fish you choose, make sure to marinate it the day prior, allowing it to absorb all of the flavor.
I can promise you this simple marinade will take your fish to a whole other level. If it doesn’t, you probably misread and drank the three shots instead of just one.
The most important thing to do is to make sure your seafood is fresh. To make life easier, order your catch fresh and have it delivered to your door by a reliable, sustainable supplier like Daily Fresh Fish. Daily Fresh Fish can supply any order--no matter how large--and gets your seafood to you right from the fishermen, so it’s fresher than a grocery store and sure to make any beachfront barbecue memorable.