Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Barbecue Secrets

Recipes of the week: Summer Salsas and Blackened Snapper on the Grill

Sep 7, 2012

This is the time when all the freshest ingredients are available locally. Visit your favorite farmer's market and find some ingredients to make a salsa, the perfect accompaniment to grilled meat and fish.

These recipes, and many more, are available in my cookbook, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, available in bookstores and as an e-book from the Apple Store.

Black Bean and Grilled Corn Salsa

This salsa is great on grilled fish, but it also stands up on its own as a dip.

1 14 oz | 398 mL can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 whole fresh cobs of corn, shucked
1 tsp | 5 mL minced fresh jalapeño pepper
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup | 80 mL chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup | 60 mL red onion, diced
1/4 cup | 60 mL fresh lime juice (about 2 limes, squeezed)
1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt
1 avocado
tortilla chips for dipping

Prepare your grill for direct high heat. Grill the corn until the kernels turn a bright yellow and there’s some nice charring. Remove the cobs from the grill and let them cool long enough so you can handle them. Cut the corn from the cobs with a sharp chef’s knife or a mandoline.

Combine all the ingredients, except the avocado and chips, in a bowl. Cover and chill the mixture for at least two hours. Dice the avocado and add it just before serving the salsa with the chips.


Makes about three cups | 750 mL

This is the classic Argentine condiment. It takes various forms, some finer, like a pesto, and some, like this one, chunkier, like a salsa. Chimichurri goes well with almost anything grilled, planked, or barbecued, but I like it best on lamb. Make it at least a day before you’re going to use it to let the flavors come alive.

1 small bunch flat leaf-parsley, chopped (about 1/2 cup | 125 mL)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced (optional)
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 Tbsp | 25 mL fresh chopped oregano (or 1 Tbsp | 15 ml dried oregano leaves)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL paprika
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt
1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp | 10 mL crushed dried red chile flakes
1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup | 50 mL sherry vinegar
1/4 cup | 50 mL water

            Combine all the ingredients except the oil, vinegar, and water in a large bowl and toss them well to make sure the salt is spread evenly throughout. Allow the sauce to rest for 30 minutes to allow the salt to dissolve and the flavors to blend.
            Add the oil, vinegar, and water and mix the sauce well. Make sure that the chimichurri looks nice and wet, like a very thick gazpacho. If not, add equal parts oil, water, and vinegar until the mixture is covered by at least a quarter inch of liquid.
            Transfer the sauce to a non-reactive storage container. Cover it and refrigerate it to allow the flavors to blend overnight. It’s even better after two or three days in the refrigerator.

Peach and Blackberry Salsa

Makes about 3 cups | 750 mL

This salsa, invented by my wife, Kate, is something you should try only when these fruits are at their peak, which on the West Coast of Canada is in August. Paired with planked chicken, it’s a mind-blower.

4 peaches, peeled and diced, not too small
1 cup | 250 mL fresh blackberries,
washed and picked over
1/4 cup | 50 mL red onion, diced
1/2 fresh green jalapeño or other hot pepper,
seeded and minced
4 tsp | 20 mL fresh lime juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Let the salsa stand, covered, in the fridge for about an hour.

Blackened Snapper on the Grill

Makes 4 servings

If you’ve ever tried to cook this delicious, spectacular dish indoors, you’ll know it’s a bit of a nightmare. It was invented by the great New Orleans chef, Paul Prudhomme, and was designed to be cooked in a restaurant kitchen where there is industrial-strength ventilation. The combination of butter and an extremely hot pan creates so much white smoke that you may not be able to see your fellow diners by the time the dish is ready to serve. I actually had to crawl from the kitchen into the dining room one time just so I could see where I was going. Cooking this dish takes a special technique that uses a gas grill to preheat cast iron pans to create the same effect as chef Paul’s restaurant kitchen. Don’t cook this dish if you’re worried about smoking out your neighbors!

Note: You need two 9 inch | 23 cm heavy cast iron skillets to pull off this recipe.

SAFETY WARNING: It’s extremely easy to severely burn your hand if you absent-mindedly grab the handle of the insanely hot pan when you take the fish off the grill. Please be careful!

4 8-10 oz | 250-300 g snapper fillets
¾ lb | 12 oz. butter
1 batch Cajun Rub (see recipe below)

Warm four serving plates and four small ramekins in a low oven.
            Prepare your gas grill (sorry, charcoal grills just don’t generate enough heat for this recipe) for direct high heat. Place two cast iron skillets on the cooking grate with their handles pointed away from you. Let the pans heat up in the grill for at least 10 minutes, until they are extremely hot.
            While the pans are heating, melt the butter in a sauté pan until it is just melted. Turn off the heat but leave the pan on the stovetop to keep warm.
            Dip the snapper fillets in the melted butter and sprinkle them generously on both sides with the rub mixture. Drizzle a little of the remaining butter over the rubbed fillets.
            Open the grill and quickly place the fillets in the pans. This will cause a lot of white smoke and the butter may flame up, so be careful. Cover the grill and cook the fish for just a couple of minutes. Carefully and quickly turn the fillets over with a long spatula and cook them for another minute or two, until the outside of the fish is nicely blackened.
            Put on some oven mitts, just in case you grab a pan handle by mistake. With your spatula, remove the fillets from the pans and place them on the serving dishes. Transfer the remaining butter into the warmed ramekins. Serve the snapper immediately, with the ramekins of butter for dipping. 

Cajun Rub

Makes about a half cup of rub.

I’ve featured this rub in the recipe for Blackened Snapper on the Grill (see page xxx), but it’s a great all-around grilling or blackening rub that showcases the classic flavors of Cajun cooking.

2 Tbsp | 30 mL sweet paprika
1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt
1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic
1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion
1 Tbsp | 15 mL cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp | 15 mL freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp | 15 mL white pepper
1 ½ tsp | 7.5 mL dried oregano leaves
1 ½ tsp | 7.5 mL dried thyme leaves

Mix the rub ingredients together.