Grilling (including barbecuing)

Grilling is a dry-heat method in which the heat comes from one direction. Usually it comes from above, but it can come from below. Heat from above may be from a salamander, for example, and heat from below from a grid, grill plate or char-grill.

Barbecuing is a form of grilling. For grilling on a flat plate, see also "Pan-frying"


  • salamander/grill
  • flat grill or hot plate

For barbecuing you could need:

  • charcoal barbecue
  • electric barbecue
  • gas barbecue
  • char-grill

How to do it

  1. Optional
    • Marinate with a chosen marinade. Find more information about marinating (link).
    • Season just before cooking, otherwise the seasoning could start to "cook" the flesh. Avoid using salt as it tends to draw out the moisture.
    • Oil the seafood with a brush, as an alternative to greasing the grill or barbecue plate.
    • Score thick fillets or gilled and gutted finfish with two or three diagonal cuts across the thickest parts, on both sides, to ensure even cooking.
    • As it cooks, baste seafood with butter, oil or a marinade.
  2. Grease and pre-heat the grill or barbecue equipment. An electric grill should have a medium-to-high heat, while a gas grill should have a medium heat. It is important that the grill be pre-heated to the required temperature before the seafood is placed in position. The heat must be strong enough to seal the flesh instantly, without burning it.
  3. Place seafood 10–15 cm from source of heat if using a salamander or charcoal barbecue.
  4. Cook finfish skin side (or where the skin used to be) first. This ensures natural basting.
  5. Turn thick steaks and gilled and gutted finfish halfway through estimated cooking time. Thin fillets may not need to be turned. There is no need to turn the seafood if cooking under a salamander.

Cooking times

These will vary considerably depending on the species, thickness, quantity and initial temperature of the seafood, and on the equipment. The times suggested below are a general guide only.

As grilling and barbecuing can involve intense heat, extra care must be taken not to overcook the seafood. Cooking time is generally very short.

Seafood Approximate cooking times for steaming
Gilled and gutted whole finfish
400-600g 12–15 minutes
Finfish fillets
3 cm thick
2 cm thick
1 cm thick

15 minutes
11 minutes
8 minutes

Prawns 2–4 minutes
Bug or rocklobster halved 4–10 minutes
Scallops 2–3 minutes
Cooked mussels 1–2 minutes
Uncooked mussels 2–3 minutes
Squid small 2–3 minutes