Cooking on a barbecue is our favourite way to prepare healthy food with less fuss and more flavour. To me, there’s nothing better than the sound of foods sizzling, the smell of smoky aromas wafting around and the hum of happy friends celebrating good times.
For this issue of Club Marine Magazine, I’ve compiled some of my top tips for barbecuing, along with a few of my favourite barbie recipes, which I’ll also prepare on select episodes of Escape with ET on Channel 10. But before we even fire up the barbecue, there are several things that must be done if we want to achieve success…
Remember, the different cooking surfaces on the barbecue are important. Knowing where to cook is almost as important as knowing what to cook. Delicate whiting fillets would be a disaster grilled on an open flame, whereas a large, juicy slice of rump would love it.
Open-flame grilling is more suited to dense steaks, firm fish cutlets and seafood that is not too delicate. Unpeeled prawns, crabs and lobsters in their shell are fine to flame-grill as their natural shells give them protection from extreme heat and keep in the moisture.
The grill plate is the best place to cook whole fish and delicate fish portions such as whiting, garfish and sardines. The grill plate provides an even heat, which can provide a gentle warm-up for these fragile fish. Additionally, grilling on a sheet of baking paper prevents delicate food items from sticking.
The wok or side burner can be used for boiling water for pasta, cooking risotto, making Asian broths or pan-grilling scallops and prawns until they are perfect.
Cleaning the barbecue is always done by whoever cooks on the barbecue! Simply scrape away the solid scraps and discard, then allow the barbecue to cool enough to handle. Using a natural bristle wooden handle wok brush and a little soapy water, brush the remaining food particles and grease away. Rinse, dry and oil, then it’s ready for the next time you want to show your barbecue skills.
Spicy seared beef salad with somen noodles and ginger mayonnaise
This is a lovely, layered salad consisting of thin Japanese somen noodles, lettuce and seared spicy rump steak. This is presented with a tangy fresh ginger mayonnaise.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Combine the sliced red chillies, crushed garlic, olive oil, soy and two tablespoons of grated ginger. Rub this all over the rump steak, cover with plastic film and refrigerate until required.
Flame-grill the rump steak until medium rare (or until your desired rareness), allow to rest in a warm place for five minutes and then cut into thin slices.
Place a portion of somen noodles onto a serving plate and top with some cos lettuce leaves. Combine the mayonnaise with the two remaining tablespoons of grated ginger (thin with a little cold water if necessary) and drizzle a portion onto the lettuce.
Place the coriander leaves on top and finish with the sliced beef strips.
The best-tasting mayonnaise is the one you make yourself, using good quality ingredients and correct preparation methods. Most of the mayonnaise sold in our supermarkets is sweetened and tastes nothing like genuine, quality mayonnaise.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and mustard in a bowl. Blend well with a hand-held blender. Slowly pour in the two oils while blending and continue until they are all combined well.
Transfer to a serving bowl and season to taste. If the mayonnaise is too thick and firm, lighten up with a little extra lemon juice.
Chilli lime calamari
You need to make sure that you score the inside of the calamari with a sharp knife. Also pre-heat the barbecue for at least 10 minutes, so that when you start to cook, it’s hot and ready to go. It should then take only four minutes to cook through.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
In a bowl, combine the calamari, lime zest, sliced chilli, seasoning and olive oil. Keep covered with plastic film and refrigerate until required.
After your barbecue has been pre-heated, place the calamari on the barbecue plate and grill for two minutes. Turn and cook for a further two minutes, then remove and place on to a serving platter.
Present with a spicy tomato relish, a bowl of the fresh mayonnaise, garlic chilli oil and several lemon wedges
Preparing salmon cuts
Salmon has long been known as one of the healthiest fish to eat. It has high levels of omega three fatty acids, which are essential for life. The benefits from its consumption are a healthier heart and an improved immune system, and it’s also good for the brain.
Salmon is such a versatile fish, with so many of its cuts being used for a whole range of different applications. Almost all of its flesh can be used for sashimi, the fish can be poached whole or oven-baked and it’s amazing for hot or cold smoking, steaming or simply grilling just a single portion.
Remember: if using part of the side, make sure you remove the pin bones from the top shoulder section. There are about 24 of these pin bones that need to be pulled out. A small pair of stainless steel pliers or pin bone tweezers will do the task. Once that’s done, cut into the desired portions, score the skin at regular intervals and grill until cooked to your desired rareness. Scoring the skin helps to cook the salmon more evenly and allows the flavourings like citrus zest, olive oils and seasonings to take hold.
Chilli barramundi pizza)
This pizza takes just six minutes to cook and the raw barramundi slices are marinated in garlic, chilli and pepper before being placed on to the pizza base.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Pizza dough (makes four pizzas)
Using a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar and salt. Whisk well and let stand for five minutes. Add in the olive oil and flour gently and combine slowly. Knead for five minutes until smooth and elastic. Place your dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic film. Set your covered bowl aside in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.
Combine the barramundi slices with the chilli, garlic, pepper and extra virgin olive oil.
Roll out a quarter of the pizza dough and place on an oiled pizza tray. Spread the tomato sauce over your base and scatter with half the cheese over that. Place the basil and parsley sprigs on top of the cheese and position the tomato halves around your pizza. Scatter the remaining cheese on top and finish with the barramundi slices.
Sprinkle with a little of the salt flakes and place into a pre-heated pizza oven and cook for six minutes. Remove your pizza when cooked, brush the crust with the olive oil, cut into six wedges, sprinkle with the lemon juice and sliced spring onions and serve.