Legal Sea Foods’ longstanding tagline is “If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal!” so when I shop, I purchase fish that are “running” or in season. In the summer, that means I’m looking for fluke, striped bass, swordfish, tuna, cod and haddock. In addition, I would add bluefish (they are delicious when fresh and they are also a lot of fun to catch).
When choosing a lobster…
The best rule of thumb is to look for long antennae. Lobsters have cannibalistic tendencies, so if a lobster is in a tank too long, their antennae are chewed and smaller.
For your clams and shellfish…
Make sure they smell fresh, they are tightly closed (if they are open, just tap them and if they close quickly then they are fresh). I feel that sometimes the best preparation for shellfish like oysters is none at all! Eat them au natural, just shuck and slurp. But in general, in the summer, I like to put shellfish straight on the grill. Cook them until they pop open and enjoy them with a squeeze of lemon or a quick butter sauce and a glass of crisp white wine. There’s not much that’s better!
Grilling whole fish
Make sure your grill is clean and just before you put the fish down on the grill, rub a well-oiled napkin over the spot on the grill where you are putting the fish. Season the fish well with salt and pepper. Don’t be afraid to use a fish cage and put your favorite herbs in the cavity of the fish. Lastly, make sure you have different temperature spots on the grill. A hot spot and also an area that has medium heat for the longer, slow cooking of larger whole fish. Once the fish is down, be patient and let the skin crisp up before flipping. Then you can move it to the grill spot that has a lower temperature to finish the cooking.
Grilling a filet
You need a hot, clean grill. Oil, salt and pepper the fish filet. Rub the grill with a well-oiled napkin before placing the fish down. When you put the seasoned filet on the grill, remember that whatever side you want to present to your guests should go on the grill first. Then wait to form a crust…depending on the type and size of the fish, this will take about 4 minutes. If you try to flip the fish and it sticks to the grill, the grill is not hot enough or you are trying to flip it too early. Be patient, it’s a lot of trial and error. But once you master it, it’s great!
When they’re running
Flounder—winter to early spring
Fluke—late spring and summer months
Striped bass—summer and early fall
Blackfish—otherwise known as Tautog (one of my favorite fish to eat) late summer and fall
Cod—year round, but best in fall and winter