Cooking Seafood on the Beach– The Simple Way!

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As I mentioned already, we went to the beach on Sunday! The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and the sunshine, blue skies and sounds of the ocean revived our cold, tired spirits.
I am rarely happier than when I’m near the sea. I grew up going to the beach regularly, both in California and in the Philippines. In the US, beach food was potato chips, sandwiches, hot dogs and s’mores– not super memorable for me, but there were other parts that stood out– like having my grandpa bring a shovel and dig us a really deep hole to spend half of the day in.
In the Philippines, we didn’t usually dig holes, but there were other thrills– like snorkeling (or getting stung by a jellyfish– very memorable.)  And the food. I loved eating at the beach. We often brought some coconut charcoal, and cooked there– chicken or pork kebabs, and often fresh fish. I miss that. All the time. (To clarify, it wasn’t usually my family doing the cooking– it was our helpers, women who lived with us and cooked for us and introduced us to all of this wonderful food, and ways of cooking and eating that I would have never otherwise experienced.)So, when the sun came out this weekend I stopped by our fish monger at the market, and picked up two whole sea bass and some small squid. I thought I might have been pushing my luck, trying to cook and eat seafood at the beach (too many pleasures at once!) but was willing to try. I made pouches out of foil to cook them in, with a combination of aromatic herbs and vegetables. This is, as usual, less of a recipe, and more of a guide to what you could do with seafood, veggies and some fire.
Here’s my fish and some favorite ingredients. Definitely have your fishmonger scale and gut for you– just give it a thorough rinse at home.
In the fish bellies, I put onions, thyme, salt, ginger and garlic.More of the same goes on the outside, with the addition of lemon slices, and a drizzle of olive oil.For the second fish, I added sweet red peppers, which I highly recommend. Fold the foil over the fish and veggies, and crimp tightly shut a couple of times.I love squid.  It does not have to be rubbery, at all! These ones were small-ish, and I had to do a little prep to get them ready. I cut off the tentacles, and pulled the heads out of the caps, and threw that bit out. I sliced up the caps, and put those rings and the tentacles in the foil.I tossed the squid with tomatoes, parsley, red peppers, onions, garlic, lemon and olive oil. (Salt and pepper, too– that almost always applies, but I sometimes forget to mention it!)We picked up a little disposable grill for $3 on our way to the beach. I had never used one before, but it was seriously awesome! It lit quickly, and got hot fast. The coals burned nicely for over an hour, and was absolutely perfect for this kind of cooking. We cooked the pouches for probably 8-10 minutes on each side.Everything came out beautifully.It could not have been any easier! The flavor profiles were a bit different from what I ate in the Philippines, but eating that fish with my fingers took me right back to the warm beaches, ravenously eating perfectly grilled fish after a day of swimming and snorkeling. The vegetables were cooked through, slightly caramelized and soft, but the fish had not been overdone. The calamari could not have been more tender and delicately flavored.
Next time, we may even take things a step further, bringing the foil and chopped seasonings with us, then buying the seafood right on the beach to cook there. Not only was it comforting to me to be eating food from my childhood, in a place that felt like home in some way… But it was significant for me to introduce the experience to my husband and daughter. They both loved the meal, and hadn’t eaten quite like that before. I am looking forward to cooking them more meals that remind me of what I ate in the Philippines.
Do you have special beach food memories? What did your family eat?

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18 Responses to Cooking Seafood on the Beach– The Simple Way!

  1. my honest answer July 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Such fun! There’s nothing like the beach on a sunny day, and all this cold weather we’ve been having just made this weekend feel even more special! Enjoy the sunshine.

    • Ariana July 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

      I know– it’s so wonderful to finally have some summer, isn’t it? I can’t get enough… Of course, there is this part of me that is still wondering, even as I enjoy the sun, “What will I do when it ends?!” So, we are heading to the beach whenever we can.

  2. Amanda July 26, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    That looks delicious! I should try that this weekend, by the poolside. Not the same as the beach at all but you have inspired me! Yum…

    • Ariana July 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

      As long as there’s sunshine and water, freshly grilled fish is the perfect food! Let me know how it turns out!

  3. Darius Cartmell July 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    That looks absolutely yummy! And the good part is, it is very easy to prepare. Given that we all want to spend as little time as possible in food preparation, we also need to make sure that the food we serve is nutritious. After all, a day at the beach is all about enjoying the sun and the sea, right?

    • Ariana August 8, 2012 at 10:22 am #

      Exactly! Keep it simple and nourishing, let it be a fun part of the day, rather than a big hassle!

  4. Rebecca July 31, 2012 at 1:41 am #

    Beautiful Food. Simple and fabulous. My favorite kind of cooking. As of yet, I have not posted a single blog entry about food, partially because I find taking pictures of food somehow excessively difficult. Food never looks as nice in my photos as it does on my counter. But I have a big file of food pics that I’m always intending to share and I feel inspired whenever I read your food-related blog posts.

    • Ariana August 8, 2012 at 10:28 am #

      Hi Rebecca! I had a really hard time with “food-tography” for a long time, too. I found that lighting is everything. I am pretty brass-tacks with my photography– I don’t use flash or reflective anything for light, I don’t have photoshop, etc. But I will carry food into a more naturally-lit room to take pictures, if I need to. And I take a lot of pictures, just in case– I’m not checking them as I cook, so if I miss the chance at a particular step, it’s gone! I would love to read/ see your posts on food, when you go for it!

  5. Julie Ann Events July 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    I too loved the fish in the Philippines. I would love to hear more of the different food you miss from your life in the Philippines. Really enjoy reading your blog.

    • Ariana August 8, 2012 at 10:20 am #

      Thank you, Julie! I don’t tend to miss things like pancit and lumpia as much as the really fresh foods– kinilaw, green mango shakes, etc. So good! I will try to bring more of those into our life…

  6. zelda August 4, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    That looks delicious. I love preparing fish like this tool

    • Ariana August 8, 2012 at 10:21 am #

      Yes, I think fresh and simple is best!

  7. Seaside Grill July 2, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    Always fun going to beach on Sunday and to make sea food in clear sunny sky!!!and food also looks fresh and good in quality!!!

    Visit our site Beach Seafood

    Thank you,

  8. Lucia March 12, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    Hello Ariana, I found your blog whilst looking for nettle recipes. I’m based in Birmingham, but there’s so much edible food around, if you knew what you were looking for. I can’t wait until mushroom season. Where was this beach? I miss fresh fish, we’re too land-locked for my liking here. I remember two summers ago, before I got married, where we went to Anglesey in Wales with friends and we found wild mussels. Delicious!

  9. Amanda May 13, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

    This reminds me of one of the best fish I’ve ever eaten, prepared very similarly by a little Guatemalan grandmother that I spent a week with several years ago while taking Spanish classes. I can’t wait to try this!

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