Wine & Dine Cookbook - - FEATURE -

Most of us have heard of the great Aus­tralian bar­bie, but this pri­mal cook­out is pop­u­lar in many other coun­tries too. They dif­fer from coun­try to coun­try, with their own lo­cal flavours, in­gre­di­ents and menus. Move away from the usual chicken wings and su­per­mar­ket sausages, and get added in­spi­ra­tion from th­ese bar­be­cues around the world.


Now that you’re all ready to cook, it’s time to cast an eye on the menu.

Make use of bar­be­cue sup­pli­ers. If time is tight, get pre­mar­i­nated meats and bar­be­cue ‘set menus’ com­pris­ing an as­sort­ment of in­gre­di­ents from bar­be­cue sup­pli­ers and high end butch­ers. With most of the work done for you, this op­tion nat­u­rally comes at a pre­mium, but you are as­sured of con­ve­nience and well-mar­i­nated in­gre­di­ents. But even if you choose to prep the food your­self, don’t dis­miss them: they are great places to get more ‘ex­otic’ in­gre­di­ents such as bar­be­cue-ready sa­tay, sam­bal squid, otako­tak and ke­babs.

In­ject it with flavour. While a great steak can get away with a sprin­kling of good sea salt and pep­per, most other meats taste bet­ter af­ter a long ses­sion of mar­i­nat­ing be­fore they meet the grill.

Mari­nades are wet mix­tures of spices, herbs and condi­ments that not only in­fuse meat with flavours but also help ten­derise the meat. Dry spice rubs are good al­ter­na­tives too: they may not pen­e­trate the meat very deeply, but the spices form a lovely crust on grilling and give a de­li­cious con­trast to the milder flavours in­side. Adding sweet el­e­ments like bown sugar, honey or even cola help the food caramelise and develop that deep, sweet coat­ing.

Brin­ing lean cuts. Lean cuts like pork loin can be tricky to bar­be­cue as they can eas­ily be­come tough, dry and stringy. If you’re plan­ning to tackle such a chal­lenge, con­sider brin­ing the meat first. Th­ese are salty so­lu­tions to which spices, herbs and aro­mat­ics have been added. They help lock in the juices and pre­vent meats from dry­ing out, while mar­i­nat­ing them at the same time. Meats should be well sub­merged in the brin­ing liq­uid—any­time from a few hours to a day or two—and kept in the re­frig­er­a­tor dur­ing the process.

Make your own burg­ers. Store-bought is con­ve­nient, but they may con­tain ad­di­tives and fillers. Mak­ing your own is just as easy and gives you the ver­sa­til­ity to cus­tomise your mix. Blend pork and beef for a sweeter, lighter burger; lamb and beef for a truly in­dul­gent treat; ex­per­i­ment with spices and herbs for flavour, and mix in some chopped veg­eta­bles or grains too for a healthy boost.

Don’t for­get seafood. For most of us, a bar­be­cue is the per­fect ex­cuse for an all-out meat fest—chicken wings, ribs, steaks, lamb chops, and def­i­nitely sausages. But seafood also lends it­self well to a bar­be­cue. Take a leaf from the Adri­atic and grill a whole snap­per or seabass with some herbs and lemon; or slather sam­bal over squid and fish, wrap them in ba­nana leaf and grill them up for a good Sin­ga­pore-style bar­be­cue. Al­ter­na­tively, wrap pieces of fish or prawns in foil with aro­mat­ics like lemon­grass, chilli and co­rian­der and a good squirt of fish sauce for a Thai-in­spired dish.

Get your sides right. Don’t for­get the sup­port­ing play­ers in your meal. As bar­be­cues tend to be quite heavy, bal­ance it up with lighter side dishes, such as a re­fresh­ing well-dressed salad, cold noo­dles, fluffy pota­toes or a chilled potato salad, a sweet corn on the cob and cous cous to soak up the juices.

Keep it safe. Play­ing with fire has its dan­gers, so take the nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions to keep kids away from the bar­be­cue. While brin­ing or mar­i­nat­ing, store the meat in the re­frig­er­a­tor to keep bac­te­ria away. Make sure raw and cooked food are kept safely apart, and never baste your meat with liq­uids in which raw food have been mar­i­nated. In­stead, put aside some pris­tine, freshly pre­pared mari­nade for bast­ing and use the rest on your raw meat.

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