Grilling shellfish

Barbecued prawns with chervil butter

Barbecued prawns with chervil butter

I love the idea of throwing another prawn (or yabby or lobster) on the barbie this summer, but is there much of a trick to it?

No matter what kind of shellfish you're grilling, leaving the shell on is the key. In addition to the protection afforded by the shell itself, exoskeleton seafood such as prawns, lobster (or crayfish), crab, yabbies and mighty marrons also have a layer of fat under the shell which renders through the flesh as it cooks.

My preferred method is to split the shellfish down the middle and start them on a relatively low heat on the char-grill, on the shell side. Baste with good butter, or olive or macadamia oil as they cook and then, when the meat has turned opaque, pump the heat up to high, flip your catch flesh-side down and give them 20 seconds on full flame to get a bit of char before pulling them off to rest (for about the same amount of time it takes to drink half a glass of sémillon, say).

Keep an eye on them while they're grilling; overcooked shellfish is like an English bowler's hat-trick - it leaves a dry, bitter taste. Cooked properly, though, barbecued shellfish should pull away from the shell readily, and will appear opaque all the way through. I think, done right, the flavour is unmatched by any other protein.

Need some inspiration? Here are more than 30 prawn recipes.


Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
The best food books of 2017
15.12.2017
France leads on food sustainability, Australia lags
08.12.2017
Artisanal Korean ingredients at Table 181
30.10.2017
Adelaide's Ferment the Festival
25.10.2017
The Producers: Fawk Foods
26.09.2017
Meet Your Maker: Tanto, QT Melbourne
14.09.2017
The Gourmet Traveller podcast

Each fortnight we round up the most interesting characters from the food world for your listening pleasure. We chat to chefs, cooks, authors, bar tenders and baristas - anyone who has something new and interesting to say about the way we like to eat and drink.

Listen
Recipe collections

Looking for fresh dinner ideas? Not sure how to make the most out of seasonal produce? Or do you need to plan the perfect party menu? Our recipe collections have you covered.

See more

You might also like...

How to prepare sea urchin at home

I love sea urchin in restaurants, but I’m a bit daunted by t...

How to pack seafood for short trips

How can I pack seafood to take to the beach house this Easte...

Winter seafood essentials

Even though most of us associate seafood with summer, it’s a...

How to eat caviar

"Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth," the quee...

What to look for when buying seafood

Why does fish in restaurants so often taste better than what...

Fast seafood recipes

Barramundi en papillote, grilled scallops in the shell, and ...

10 fish recipes for Good Friday

Good Friday is for fish. So, from beetroot-cured ocean trout...

Cooking with wine

Not that we need an excuse to crack open a bottle, but these...

Recipes with scallops

Here are 14 fresh takes on these small saltwater clams, from...

Nine ways to dress oysters

From a classic mignonette to a spicy tamarind dressing, top ...

What are mantis prawns?

A rare catch at Sydney's fish markets, mantis prawns have de...

Dan Hong's salt and pepper calamari with lime aioli

The executive chef shares his salt and pepper squid recipe, ...

How to fillet a fish

The best fillets are those you cut yourself. Here, seafood s...

Preserved tuna

Quality canned or jarred tuna can turn a fast pasta dish or ...

Seafood platters

Is there still a place for the classic French-style seafood ...