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(Newsletter Issue #006)


How to grill foods

To cook above the heat source (traditionally over wood coals) in the open air. Grilling differs from spit-roasting because roasts are traditionally cooked on a spit in front of the heat source.


Some cooks cover the grill during cooking, a method that causes the food to take on a very smoky flavor if not done correctly. It can also coat the food with a layer of soot and grease. If you decide to cover the grill, move the coals to one side of the grill and put the food on the other side so that the food is not directly over the coals, where the rendering fat would drip down and produce soot.


Many of us use the words barbecue and grill interchangeably, but in some parts of the world, barbecuing is its own special technique of slow cooking, in a covered grill, often with a basting sauce or marinade. Barbecued foods are usually very smoky and may be cooked until they are falling off the bone, much like braised foods.


Grilling has traditionally meant cooking on an outdoor grill over a bed of charcoal. Gas-fired grills are more convenient than charcoal, but they don't impart the same delicate scent as good-quality hardwood charcoal or wood chips or chunks.

Using Marinades and Herbs -

Because grilling naturally imparts so much flavor, you don't need to do much else to the food. But grilled foods also hold up well to the assertive flavor of ingredients such as garlic and dried herbs. The easiest marinades are simple drizzles of olive oil with a sprinkle of chopped fresh or dried herbs, such as thyme, oregano, rosemary or marjoram. More elaborate marinades are similar to those used for stews and braised meat dishes and may contain wine and chopped aromatic vegetables. One of the simplest and tastiest ways to marinate grilled meats is to sprinkle over a little soy sauce and rub the meat with chopped garlic. Seafood marinades should be kept very simple and delicate - a drizzle of olive oil is usually all that's needed - or they'll overwhelm the seafood's delicate flavor. Do not add lemon juice or vinegar to a seafood marinade as the acid will cook the surface of the seafood and may cause it to stick to the grill.

Starting the fire -

There are dozens of contraptions on the market for starting a charcoal fire, but by far the easiest and least expensive is what is called a chimney. Pile charcoal in the top of the chimney and stuff two crumpled-up sheets of newspaper in the bottom. Set the chimney in the bottom of the grill, light the newspaper, and wait for about 30 minutes for the heat to work up the chimney and ignite the coals, then dump them out into the grill.

Getting a crosshatch pattern -

To give your grilled foods that lovely crisscross pattern you see in magazines, you'll need a grill grate with heavy cast-iron bars. The grates on most home grills are made of thick wire that isn't wide enough and doesn't retain enough heat to mark the food. To make a crosshatch pattern, grill on one side for a few minutes and then give the food a 90-degree turn on the grill so that marks from the grill grate burn into the food at a right angle to the first marks. If you're really out to impress, brush grilled foods with a little melted butter or olive oil just before serving to give them a nice sheen.

Using a grill pan -

Most grill pans are made of heavy cast iron and have a raised, ribbed surface that leaves foods with characteristic grill marks and a lightly smoky flavor. Though it won't replicate the flavor of foods grilled over wood coals, a grill pan is handy when you're in a hurry or it's suddenly started to rain. Get the grill pan very hot on the stove, then quickly wipe the ribbed surface with a paper towel dipped in a little olive oil and place lightly oiled meats, seafood, or vegetables in the pan.

Cleaning the grill or grill pan -

To clean a black and soot-encrusted grill, spray it with a heavy-duty oven cleaner. Remember, however, that these cleaners contain sodium hydroxide, so be very careful to avoid contact with skin or eyes. A stiff wire brush is also useful for cleaning a grill with encrusted charring. After brushing, be sure to wipe the grill with a lightly oiled rag or paper towel to remove soot loosened by the brush.

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