Well, shrimp is a great alternative but it can be very tricky as well. Here are tips from an experienced grillmaster.
The first thing you must consider before you even start planning your meal of grilled shrimp on your grill is the type of shrimp you will grill. The numbers you see at the store known as the “count” represent the amount of shrimp that make up a full pound on average.
When grilling if you choose the very small shrimp your margin of error between the shrimp being done on the grill and overdone is a fraction of a minute.
Even for the best grillmasters this can be tricky, so it is recommended you stay away from any shrimp count higher than 25 per pound.
Even the 25 per pound is pushing it, closer to 15 gives you a better chance at grilling shrimp successfully.
When marinading shrimp keep in mind that just like fish, shrimp take very little time to absorb the flavor of a marinade. I would highly recommend sticking to somewhere between two and three hours at the most. Many people like to use barbecue sauce as a marinade with shrimp.
Shrimp is the one type of meat where you can actually have the sauce on the shrimp immediately when putting them on the grill.
The reason for this is because unlike with other meats that take longer to cook, the shorter cooking time of shrimp limits the amount of time the sugar in the sauce has to burn on the shrimp.
When cooking shrimp on the grill, I highly recommend purchasing a grilling tray or wok to use instead of using your grates.
This is because with some grills the space between the grates can be a trap for the shrimp to fall through. Also you can oil these woks or grilling trays extensively before placing them on the grill.
With a fast cooking shellfish such as shrimp, you must make sure the cooking surface is well oiled.
When the shrimp are cooking my recommendation is 2 minutes per side. You can give them a total cooking time of five minutes, but should not go above that.
The best gauge for shrimp is when they start to acquire that “pinkish” hue to them they are done on that side. Another good test is to touch them and see if they are starting to feel firm.
Keep in mind if you have used barbecue sauce as a marinade this will mask the color of the shrimp and you won’t be able to judge by the hue of the shrimp on the grill as they cook.
Shrimp, like most shellfish should be served immediately after removing from the grill. All meat tends to continue cooking inside after being removed from the heat source.
Consider the slim margin of error between “done” and “overdone” with shrimp, you really can not let this shellfish sit around after removing it from the grill.
As always though, make sure the shrimp is done before removing it from the grill. Undercooking shellfish can subject you to risks over very serious food contaminants.
If you are not sure, err on the side of caution and go a little over the cooking time that you think they are done at just to be safe. It’s better to have slightly tough shrimp than a foodbourne illness.