Barbecued

Barbecued

By
Nathan Outlaw
Contains
6 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849493727
Photographer
David Loftus

Barbecuing seems so straightforward – just chuck the food on the hot grid and that’s it – but it isn’t quite so easy, especially when it comes to cooking seafood on the barbecue.

Before you start you need to make sure your barbecue is hot enough – especially if you’re cooking fish or shellfish. Personally, I don’t think gas barbecues cut the mustard for seafood – they just don’t get hot enough and the fish sticks. For me, barbecuing is all about cooking over coals. And the coals need to be white hot – so hot that you can’t hold your hand anywhere near the grid. It’s this intense heat that stops the seafood from sticking and ensures it cooks quickly and remains succulent. The coals also give seafood an incomparable flavour.

The word barbecue comes from the word barbacoa, which has Caribbean roots and means ‘sacred fire pit’. It describes a basic grill for cooking food, consisting of a wooden platform resting on sticks over a fire. Traditionally, this involved digging a hole in the ground to take the hot coals and a cooking pot. The food was placed on the grill with the pot containing water underneath, to collect the cooking juices and produce a broth. It was then covered with leaves and coal, set alight and left to cook for a few hours. Now that might have worked for meat, but seafood cooked that way would be tough and inedible!

The best barbecued fish I’ve ever eaten was in a traditional seafood restaurant called Keie-Keipe in the Basque coastal town of Getaria in northern Spain. The whole fish were cooked in a specially designed clamp over coals and basted with a mixture of great olive oil and wine vinegar. As the fish rested after cooking it released the sort of magical juices that can only be created by cooking fish this way. If I can recreate anything like that I am over the moon.

I only ever barbecue whole fish on the bone – without the protection of the skin, the flesh would dry out very quickly over the intense heat. Butterflied fish work well, but I’d never cook fillets on a barbecue.

Similarly, crustaceans need to be in their shell – the flesh effectively steams within the shells and takes on the flavour from the coals without drying out.

So the golden rules are:

–Get the coals white hot – be patient!

–Cook fish with the skin on

–Cook crustaceans in their shell.

Only barbecue fish and shellfish that is spanking fresh, stick to the golden rules, and you will be cooking some of the tastiest seafood ever!

Best seafood to barbecue

Bass, bream, brill, grey mullet, gurnard, herring, John Dory, lobster, mackerel, monkfish, octopus, prawns, red mullet, razor clams, horse mackerel, sardines, squid, turbot, scampi, scallops.

Accompaniments and garnishes

Green sauce, roasted garlic and lime mayonnaise, anchovy, mint and coriander dressing, barbecued aubergine and courgettes, marinated tomatoes with rosemary.

Recipes in this Chapter

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