If you haven’t used a griddle to cook seafood – or any food – before, you’re going to instantly love the simplicity and ease it offers.
This post about using a griddle to cook seafood on a gas grill was written for SABER® Infrared Grills by Chef Chris Koetke.
Early in my career, I worked in a well-known French restaurant housed inside a hotel. Thus, the restaurant had the added responsibility of providing breakfast and room service to the hotel’s guests. One morning, I had to come into work early to prep for a large party that evening. When I entered the kitchen, I saw the sole breakfast cook, expertly cooking a variety of eggs, pancakes, French toast and other breakfast items on one hot and well-seasoned griddle. How he masterfully moved things around the griddle, knowing exactly the moment to turn this or that, reminded me of a conductor in front of his orchestra. It was impressive, unforgettable and a great example of how to cook on a griddle.
Why use a griddle?
Cooking on a griddle is fun. I love the SABER® EZ Griddle for the fun factor as well as the fact that this griddle cooks outdoors. The importance of this function is not to be underestimated. Griddles can produce a lot of smoke and grease-laden particles when running at full throttle. Most home ventilation systems simply can’t handle it. Also, cooking “fragrant” foods like fish and seafood can leave the entire house smelling like your last meal. This is where the outdoors part really comes in handy. Instead of staying stuck inside your home, all vapors and smells can escape outside.
Using the SABER® EZ Griddle couldn’t be any easier. If it’s new, be sure to follow the instructions carefully to clean it and season it, using heatings with oil and salt rubs. Once that’s done, all you need to do is place your griddle directly on the grates and let it heat up for 5-10 minutes on high heat. Keep the grill cover closed to maximize the heat.
One of the advantages of this griddle surface is that it is strong and thick, which means that it holds up against high heat. Cooking on a surface that is super hot is one of the secrets to preventing sticking. And, of course, cooking with high heat is what griddles do best!
So much can be cooked on your griddle, but I will focus here on seafood, as my family is particularly adverse to leftover fishy smells in the kitchen. Before taking the seafood to the preheated griddle, there are three easy steps needed to ensure great results.
Finally, it’s a good idea to let the seafood warm to room temperature for 30-45 minutes before cooking as it allows the fish to cook more evenly and not cool the griddle during cooking.
Let’s Get Griddling
Now that the seafood is ready to cook, it’s time to move to the griddle. Once the griddle is very hot, pour on a small amount of vegetable-based oil—sunflower, canola, or peanut oil will work. These oils are ideal for griddles, as they have high smoke points, which basically means that they hold up better under high heat. It’s important to work quickly as the oil should almost immediately start to smoke. Using a metal spatula, spread the oil around the griddle to make a thin, even layer across it. Then, place the seafood on the griddle, serving side down first. Be careful not to overload the griddle as this can cool it off too much. Ideally, you want around 40 to 50 percent of the griddle surface with no seafood on it.
All that remains is to flip the seafood when it is nicely browned on one side. When you flip the seafood, flip it onto a part of the griddle that did not have a piece of seafood on it previously. The un-used portion of the griddle will be hotter than the part of the griddle where the seafood cooked initially. This will ensure that the second side of the seafood also gets nicely browned. Remember, great browning on both sides of your seafood translates into great flavor!
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Don’t Forget the Clean-Up
When finished, simply scrape off all of the oil and any bits of fish and direct them into the grease trap. It’s often helpful to wipe off any excess oil with a cotton cloth or paper towels. Leave the griddle on high heat for several minutes to let the griddle season for the next use, then let it cool. Once cool, wipe it again with a clean paper towel or cotton cloth—and store it for the next use!