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THE SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL BBQing
Do you know someone who aspires to this?
You were hoping for this
But the Reality is this!
Why is it that men often take charge of the BBQ but when it comes to the kitchen they are nowhere to be seen?
So roll on summer I say so I can watch my other half slaving over the hot BBQ while I relax on the sun lounger with a chilled glass of Prosecco in hand. Now that's not to say I don't have input into the proceedings, so avoiding the classic BBQ disaster of a burnt exterior (ouch!) and raw inside (yuck!). Or worse - picking bits of blackened meat or fish off the bars of the grill as it disintegrates before your very eyes.
Oh no, the Five Golden Rules of Barbecuing are strictly adhered to in our household and these can be heard being repeated at regular intervals from the comfort of the sun lounger! This ensures that I get moist, lightly smoked fish with crisp, blistered skin that is soooo good to eat or juicy meat with loads of flavour
In theory whole fish is simpler to BBQ than fillets but there are slightly different guidelines for each
THE FIVE GOLDEN RULES!
Rule 1. Light the fire or gas barbecue well in advance. Get a good, steady, well established heat going before you start cooking to avoid any flare ups, domestic or otherwise! For a charcoal or wood BBQ this means lighting it an hour ahead and a gas one at least 15 minutes beforehand, keeping the lid down if there is one!
Rule 2. Pre heat the bars of the cooking grill. They need to be really hot to sear the skin and flesh of the meat or fish almost immediately. A slow heat will only make the food stick like glue! So heat the grill bars for at least 10 minutes before putting any meat or fish on it.
Rule 3. Coat the fish or meat well, NOT the grill but only lightly. For meat use a mix of soy sauce and rapeseed oil if you can which does not burn at high temperatures with your favourite herbs or spices added. For fish just use oil and herbs or spices. Place fillets skin side down. Coat the uppermost side of teh fish or meat with the marinade so it has time to sink into the flesh as the other side is cooking.
Rule 4. Don't touch! Don't be tempted to have a peek underneath with your spatula. Leave the to cook on the hot bars for at least 3 minutes until seared and the fish or meat is easy to turn over.
Rule 5. A Firm hand. Use a wide metal spatula or wall paper scraper (preferably clean). Be firm - a series of short, sharp jabs between the meat/fish and the grill should loosen any slight tendency to stick.
A Few tips on Cooking:
- Use small to medium size fish, anything up to 1.5kg to ensure they cook through
- Trout, sardines, mackerel, sea bass, bream and red mullet are recommended
- Scaly fish such as the sea bass, bream and red mullet should be descaled for the skin to be edible, ask your fishmonger
- Inside the gutted fish sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper and use lots of fresh herbs such as rosemary sprigs, bay leaves and fennel twigs, be generous not just a couple of leaves. Add thick slices of lemon
- Season on the outside with the salt and pepper and herbs to flavour the crispy skin directly
- Cooking fillets does require a little care and attention to detail as they are much more fragile than whole fish
- If you have a flat griddle pan as part of your BBQ set up this is ideal as there is no chance of your carefully prepared fish disappearing through the grill bars
- Thick, chunky portions of fillet are best, at least 2cm thick with the skin on
- Use firm fleshed fish such as sea bass, bream, salmon, sea trout, turbot or brill
- Avoid the more fragile white fish such as pollack, pouting, cod and coley. The flesh is just too soft and the skin too fine to do anything than just give you grief Finally, to know when your fish is done - do the knife test. This involves a round ended knife if possible, pushed into the flesh of the fish, to the backbone if it is whole fish. Raw flesh has a translucency about it whereas cooked flesh is opaque or milky. You may find that the skin is nice and crisp but the flesh is not quite done. Placing the fish on a warmed plate covered with foil may finish the cooking. If on the knife test the fish has still some way to go place a double layer of foil on the grill and roll the fish onto it and it will continue cooking without further damage to the skin.
Have Fun, Good Eating