Chuck’s Food Shack: Cooking seafood in foil packets makes for an ocean’s bounty of options

Hoarding takes many forms; my vice is aluminum foil. At any given moment, my garage is loaded with at least a dozen rolls of foil and an assortment of disposable foil pans. No trip to the grocery store is complete without at least one new roll out of fear of ever running out.

Crumbled up into a ball, you can clean your grill grates with foil. It’s perfect for wrapping up leftovers or as a cover to any dish that you want to keep warm. Meats such as brisket and ribs wrapped in foil will cook faster and retain more juices.

And foil packets are the perfect vehicle for cooking seafood — something you should be doing regularly.

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Seafood can be intimidating. Fillets can stick to the grill grates, shrimp can quickly get overcooked, and there aren’t many of us in South Texas that have a lot of practice cooking clams and mussels. All of these issues can be resolved by cooking them in foil packs, which provide a comforting blanket of seafood security.

The formula is simple: Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray, pick your seafood, add your vegetables, season it up, add a little moisture with some broth or other sauce, wrap it up and get cooking. The only caveat is to make sure you use heavy duty foil, which is marked clearly on the packaging, rather than standard foil. It has about triple the thickness, retains heat better and is more resistant to tears.

Seafood foil packs are incredibly versatile. You can load them up in large batches so a single packet can feed multiple people, or you can allow family members or guests to customize their own.

Setting up your kitchen like a raw seafood bar makes for a great party. I prefer the single-serve method. Diners can eat directly out of the packs, which can then disposed so there are no dishes to clean.

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Foil packs also are compatible with all kinds of cooking devices. Whether you prefer to grill them over charcoal, the Food Shack way, or cook them in the oven, the results are nearly identical. Either way, at about 350 to 400 degrees, packets cook in about 15 minutes.

How you wrap the packets is also important. Instead of wrapping your food tightl like a Christmas present, keep it all relatively loose with some air above the ingredients. This allows the steaming effect, which is what ultimately cooks the food.

Whether its a fillet of salmon, shrimp, scallops, crab legs, littleneck clams or even a lobster tail, I have yet to discover a combination that doesn’t take well to the foil method. And it’s always a meal that can be finished from prep to table in about 30 minutes.

Recipe: Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Foil

Recipe: Grilled Seafood Pack

Recipe: Mix and Match Seafood Packs

Chuck Blount is a food writer and columnist covering all things grilled and smoked in the San Antonio area. Find his Chuck’s Food Shack columns on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.comTo read more from Chuck, become a subscriber. [email protected] | Twitter: @chuck_blount | Instagram: @bbqdiver

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