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Barbecue Secrets

Jun 20, 2015


I'm back with a new podcast! For some reason unknown to me, in the last couple of weeks the number of Barbecue Secrets listeners has jumped from about 40 to over 600 a day. Not sure what's going on, but I figure if there's that much interest in the show I'd better start producing some new episodes. I hope you like this one, and I'm looking forward to making more.

For all you CKNW listeners, here are your recipes for this week. Enjoy!

Beach-Friendly Snacks

As soon as we get unpacked and set up at a picnic table, we like to put out an array of simple but delish appetizers. Obvious choices are a nice variety of stinky cheeses, cold cuts, pate and crackers, olives, fresh pita and hummus, sliced long English cucumber, cherry tomatoes, pickled herring and so on. 

Grilled Fresh Smelt

This works best with smelt that have just been caught, but you could thaw frozen smelt and do the same thing. If you’re squeamish you can gut and behead the fish before grilling but, in my opinion, why do all that fussing and make a mess when they taste great whole?

Makes a great beach picnic appetizer for 4

8 or more fresh raw whole smelt

Sea salt (Fleur de Sel or Malden Salt would work best, but Kosher Salt would also work fine) 

Pre-heat a portable grill for medium-direct cooking (I prefer The Cobb or a Weber Smoky Joe, but you can also use a hibachi or portable gas grill). Wipe the smelt with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Sprinkle them with the sea salt and immediately place them on the cooking grate (the fresh coating of salt should help prevent them from sticking to the grate, but if you’re worried about stickage lightly drizzle them with oil before you put them on the grill). If your cooker has a lid, leave it off.

Carefully tend the smelt, turning them regularly, until they are slightly charred and a have a light golden colour. Remove them from the grill and eat immediately while they still have a crisp crust. Eat them whole – I know it sounds gross, but the crunchy head is the best part when it’s fresh from the fire.

Grilled Salmon with Teriyaki Sauce and Fresh Mango and Jalapeno Salsa

Makes 4 servings

I like to make my own Teryaki sauce (see recipe below) but the bottled variety is also very good. To keep things very simple, and still delish, you can substitute teriyaki sauce with good quality Japanese soy sauce.

For the salmon:

4 8-10 oz | 250-300 g pieces of boneless wild salmon fillets, skin on

1 cup teriyaki sauce

For the salsa:

1 ripe fresh mango, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

Juice of 1 lime

Kosher or sea salt to taste

Prepare the salsa by combining all the ingredients.

Marinate the salmon pieces in the teriyaki sauce for no more than an hour. I like to bring a big Ziploc bag to the beach and marinate the salmon on the spot. If you soak them in the sauce too long they get too salty and it masks the delicious taste of the salmon.

Prepare your portable grill for medium direct cooking. Place the salmon pieces, skin-side down, on the cooking grate and cover the grill. When the salmon is done (internal temp of about 130F or springy to the touch), remove it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving with the mango salsa and the rice salad on the side. 

Rice, Asparagus, and Cucumber Salad

Makes 8 servings (so you’ll have enough for leftovers the next day)

This is a slight adaptation of a recipe from a 1994 Bon Appétit magazine. The salad tastes like summer itself and it’s one of our go-to beach picnic standards. You cannot make it once without making it again and again.

1 3/4 cups | 425 mL water

1 cup | 250 mL long-grain white rice

1 pound | 500 g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch | 2.5 cm pieces

11/2 cups | 375 mL long English cucumber, chopped into 1/4-inch | 5 mm dice

1/2 cup | 125 mL chopped chives

2 Tbsp | 25 mL Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp | 15 mL honey

1 Tbsp | 15 mL white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp | 2 mL dry mustard

21/2 Tbsp | 40 mL vegetable oil

1/4 cup | 50 mL chopped fresh dill

1 tsp | 5 mL finely minced lemon zest

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

large, intact leaves of green leaf or butter lettuce

dill sprigs, for garnish

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the rice and return the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook it for about 20 minutes. Place the rice in a bowl, fluff it with a fork, and let it cool to room temperature.

            Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for 1–2 minutes, just until it’s  bright green and still slightly crisp. Plunge the asparagus into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain it and pat it dry. Add the asparagus, cucumber, and chives to the rice.

            Combine the Dijon mustard, honey, vinegar, and dry mustard in a small bowl. Gradually mix in the oil and then mix in the dill and lemon zest. Mix the dressing with the salad mixture. Season the salad with salt and pepper. Line a large bowl with lettuce and mound the salad in the bowl. Garnish it with sprigs of dill. 

The Perfect Beach Picnic Dessert: Black and Blue Berries with Lime Zest Confit

Makes 6–8 servings

This one’s inspired by a dessert from celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who had “Blueberries with Lime Sugar” on the menu at Les Halles restaurant in New York. It’s great with just blueberries, but Kate decided it would benefit from the addition of blackberries. The combination works beautifully and kids love it, too. Don’t forget to drink the juice!

For the lime zest confit:

2 limes

1 cup | 250 mL water

1/2 cup | 125 mL sugar

For the berries:

3 Tbsp | 45 mL sugar

2 Tbsp | 25 mL lime juice

3/4 pint | 375 g fresh blueberries

3/4 pint | 375 g fresh blackberries

1/4 cup | 50 mL fresh mint, finely chopped

mint sprigs for garnish

1/2 cup | 125 mL crème fraîche or sour cream or enough vanilla ice cream for 6–8 (optional)

To make the confit, remove the peel from the limes with a paring knife, being sure not to include the white pith. Slice the peel into thin pieces. (It’s much easier to zest the limes if you use a zester, which is a wonderful tool for all kinds of reasons.)

            Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the zest and reduce the heat so the mixture simmers. Loosely cover the pot and let the liquid cook until it has reduced by half. Remove it from the heat, cool it completely, and strain it (or not, if you aren’t averse to shreds of lime). You can store the confit in an airtight container and refrigerate it until you need it.

            To finish the dish, combine the sugar with the lime juice in a large, presentable bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the berries and toss them well, coating all the berries with the mixture. Add the fresh mint and the lime zest confit and toss the berries well again. The mixture is even better after the flavors have had time to marry, so refrigerate the berries for an hour or more. Garnish them with more fresh mint and serve them with crème fraîche, sour cream, or vanilla ice cream, if you like.

BONUS RECIPE: Complicated but Delicious Teriyaki Sauce

Makes about 8 cups | 2 L

This homemade teriyaki sauce, which I have slightly adapted from an old recipe by famed Vancouver chef Trevor Hooper, has dimensions of flavor that make the extra work more than worthwhile. It stores for several months in the fridge, and it’s great as a marinade for meat or seafood, as a sauce for stir-fries, or just drizzled on steamed rice.

11/2 cups | 375 mL sake

11/2 cups | 375 mL mirin

2 cups | 500 mL brown sugar

4 cups | 1 L Japanese soy sauce

1/2 cup | 125 mL tamari soy sauce

1 small onion, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 2-inch | 5 cm piece fresh ginger, chopped

1 orange, chopped, skin on

1 small pear, chopped

1 small leek, split, washed thoroughly and chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a low boil. Cook it until it’s reduced by about 20 percent. Cool it, strain it into a large jar or bottle, and refrigerate it. It stores indefinitely in the refrigerator.