Take that integral part of Aussie cuisine - the barbecue - to the beach and let the summer flavours waft along the breeze. By Bart Beek. Photography by Justin Field
What do you get when you combine good friends, a fabulous location, ideal weather and great food? Answer - the perfect Aussie barbecue!
In late December 2011, the team from Club Marine Magazine decided to all get together and just enjoy each other’s company over a barbecue at a beach park in Brighton. Once all the necessary essentials were allocated out, it was simply a matter of getting to the chosen site early, finding a spot and staking our claim.
My vehicle ‘the work horse’ was packed to the roof with food tubs, ice bags, a market umbrella with stand and a small portable barbecue with a full bottle of gas.
It’s a good idea to spend a little time in finding the perfect position for both eating and barbecuing! Choose a downwind position for the barbecue and set up the park bench with tablecloths, plates, cutlery, napkins, condiments and glasses.
It’s all about the preparation prior to the event that will lead to ‘smooth sailing’ on the day. So pay attention to the details, make a plan and tick the boxes as you go.
The best way to begin a summer barbecue feast is to choose a starter to eat while they are all waiting for the main event. I had all the ingredients ready to make a champagne cocktail and the barbecue was fired up in readiness to grill the Greek favourite - Saganaki.
Lightly dust the stretch-curd cheese with a little plain flour and grill on the hotplate until it turns golden on both sides. Allow to cool for several minutes then sprinkle with some lemon juice and a little dried Greek oregano. Cut into bit-size pieces and serve on a shared platter accompanied with grilled asparagus spears and olives.
Most seafoods are suited to the flavours of smoke and flame so we devoured the skewered lemon prawns and glazed portions of Huon salmon, basted with a delicious teriyaki sauce.
The lamb cutlets were simple but stunning, seasoned with Crabtree’s amazing smoked chilli salt and presented straight on the Baba Ganoush. Equally as popular with all meat lovers present were the barbecued peppered steak strips. Remember to rest the meat in a warm place before slicing, to allow the juices to settle.
Desserts always get a showing at my barbecues and here I grilled the first of the summer figs – flavoured with honey, orange zest and vanilla sugar - and then simply presented on orange cream. Wow, what a way to finish!.
A favourite from Greece, this salty cow’s milk cheese is grilled until golden and crisp then served warm. Flavoured with oregano and lemon, it could equally be presented with crusty bread and herb-dressed salad. I enjoy it with grilled asparagus spears, Ligurian olives and parsley.
Cut the cheese into 10mm thick wedges (10cm x 5cm). Season well with the pepper and lightly coat with the plain flour, shaking away any excess.
Add a little extra virgin olive oil to the grill plate or frypan and bring to a moderate heat.
Gently slide the cheese slices into the oil and grill for several minutes until golden brown on both sides. Drain well on paper towelling.
Sprinkle oregano over the top and squeeze on the lemon juice. Present with the grilled asparagus spears, a scattering of the olives and finish with parsley leaves.
Teriyaki Huon salmon
My family and I love this simple recipe which combines equal amounts of sweet soy, mirin and cooking sake. It develops a beautiful shine and the aroma and taste when it cooks are to die for.
Bring to a boil the mirin, sake, soy, ginger, garlic and seasoning. Remove from the heat, chill and refrigerate until required.
Pre-heat the grill plate on high for 10 minutes. Add the 20ml of olive oil and combine in the salmon portions.
Baste with the teriyaki sauce while cooking, brushing and turning several times.
When cooked, present with steamed rice, sliced spring onions and toasted sesame seeds.
Lemon grilled prawns with fennel salad
Fennel is a beautiful partner for grilled prawns and adds a mild aniseed or licorice flavour. Both the bulb and the feathery leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. The skewers help keep the prawns straight and they will also cook quicker and more evenly.
Place the cleaned prawns onto bamboo skewers, then zest the lemon over the prawns and season well. Place the prawn skewers onto an oiled hot plate and grill until just cooked.
Combine together the shaved fennel, salad leaves, tarragon and capers. Mix together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and seasoning. Lightly dress the salad and present with the grilled prawn skewers.
Barbecued peppered steak with bean salad
A portion of perfectly grilled rump steak may not be quite as tender as an eye fillet, but its flavour is superior. Served medium rare and allowed to rest once grilled, it’s an absolute treat.
Rub the crushed peppercorns evenly over the rump slices and season well.
Pre-heat the barbecue plate on high for 10 minutes and add a little olive oil. Grill the steaks until they are cooked to your desired rareness, then remove and rest for several minutes.
Place the beans and lettuce onto a platter, dress with the vinegar and olive oil mix and scatter with the spring onions.
Slice the rump and add it to the platter.
Grilled lamb cutlets with Baba Ganoush
Baba Ganoush has a delicious smoky flavour and goes very well with grilled meats. The smoky chilli salt also complements the lamb beautifully.
Grill the eggplant over a flame until the skin blackens then cut it in half and roast at 200°C in an oven for 45 minutes until soft. Cool, and then scoop out the flesh, leaving the skin behind. Place with all the other ingredients into a blender and process until smooth.
Season the lamb cutlets with the smoked chilli salt and grill on the barbecue until medium rare. Present on a bed of Baba Ganoush and garnish with the tomatoes, radish slices and oregano leaves.
Barbecued summer figs with cinnamon and orange
Initially a native from Syria, the fig tree would have to be one of the most ancient plants known to mankind. As a dried fruit they are wonderful, but when fresh they become an amazing treat.
I love to serve these at room temperature with an orange-flavoured cream.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Beat the cream with the castor sugar, vanilla extract and the zest from half the orange. Place in the refrigerator until required.
Wash and halve the fresh figs, then place onto a flat tray.
Grate the zest of half the orange over the figs then sprinkle with the vanilla sugar and ground cinnamon. Drizzle with the honey and juice from the orange half.
Pre-heat the barbecue plate and when hot, place the figs flat side down onto the grill plate. Grill until they start to turn brown and the honey almost turns to caramel.
Remove and allow to cool, then present with the orange-flavoured whipped cream.