Hey there, and welcome to another installment of our Grilling 101 Blogs, the third and final entry in our seafood series. This week, we’ll be combining the final common seafood items into this blog in a similar style to our barbecued fruits and vegetables blog (though surprisingly longer). With that said, let’s take a look at the most luxurious of seafood: the shellfish.
Shellfish are classified as any form of aquatic life with some form of exoskeleton. The most common form of shellfish are the crustaceans, which include crabs, lobsters, and shrimp (all of whom we’ll cover here). However, clams, oysters, and aquatic snails also fall into this category. Shellfish are renowned world over for their unique flavours, and in many countries are considered an expensive delicacy food. Obviously they’re most commonly seen in coastal communities where you can buy these foods fresh off the boat (and when they’re most flavourful), but it’s still easy to find frozen shellfish at most convenient stores. While the freezing process might take away some of the flavour, there’s still enough for you to get your money’s worth out of this meal.
When it comes to grilling shellfish, the process can be as simple as slathering on some olive oil and tossing it on the grill at direct heat. Most of your work comes from prepping the food for grilling, as most shellfish are bought frozen and need to be thawed out in advanced. However, some species do require more of a special treatment. We’ll be exploring each of these methods with the five most commonly eaten shellfish.
First up on our list is the shrimp. Now it’s true that shrimp has suffered a bad rep due to its high cholesterol levels (roughly 12 large shrimp contain around 200 milligrams), but that shouldn’t turn people off from enjoying it. Shrimp is a wonderful food for parties and get-togethers, and its nutritional values almost outweigh its cholesterol levels. For starters, shrimp are loaded with selenium, a mineral that is proven to help boost the immune system and even fend off cancer cells. Another abundant nutrient in shrimp is astaxanthin, a kind of pigment that gives some shrimp their pink colouring. It’s used by your body to decrease the signs of premature aging and ensure you have healthy and youthful skin. There are also weight loss benefits to shrimp due to their high vitamin and mineral concentration, which includes Zink, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B3. And if all that hasn’t convinced you, they just taste great.
To prepare shrimp for grilling, you always want to wash them before they get on the grill to remove any bacteria that might have survived the freezing process. Depending on the size of the shrimp, you might also want to remove the shell and head. General rule of thumb is that smaller shrimp are cooked with their shells removed and larger ones (such as 2/6 count) can be cooked with their shells either removed or on, like a lobster. Themediterranieandish.com has a wonderful recipe that’s guaranteed to delight all you shrimp lovers.
Our next shellfish is the crab, a very versatile shellfish with a taste that rivals lobster. Crabs can be prepared and eaten in a variety of ways, which include cooking the whole thing or removing the meat and preparing it into a biscuit, curry, or the ever popular crab cake. Nutrients wise, crabs contain many of the same nutrients as shrimp, such as Zink and selenium, but they also contain many beneficial nutrients of their own. The most prominent of these is the omega-3 fatty acid, which is used by the body to reduce the risk of heart failures, memory loss, and strengthening both the brain and heart. Crabs also contain a healthy supply of copper which, in trace amounts, is used to build tissue and maintain your blood volume.
Like shrimp, crabs should be washed before cooking. However, since most crab you’ll be cooking with is frozen, it needs to be thawed out in a pot of cold water for several hours beforehand. Generally most stores only sell crab legs because that’s where most of the meat is, but whole crabs can still be found and offer a bit of creative flare during mealtime, as can be seen in this recipe provided by Foodnetwork.com.
Our final food in the crustacean category is the lobster. In many respects, lobsters are similar to crabs in that they are a versatile food that can be cooked whole or have their meat removed and used in other dishes. However, lobster is generally considered less healthy than crab because of its higher cholesterol and sodium levels. But like shrimp, it shouldn’t be shunned or avoided because of that. Along with containing copper and Zink like its fellow shellfish, lobster also has trace amounts of Phosphorus and Vitamin B-12. Phosphorus is used by your body strengthen and build your bones, and B-12 is used to form DNA.
Unlike crabs where the meat was located in the legs, lobster meat is found in their tail and claws. While it is possible to find these parts frozen, more often than now you’ll be working with full lobsters, either frozen or bought living. If you buy a living lobster, be sure to kill it before you work with it. Here’s a link to a video about how to properly kill a lobster.
If your lobster was bought frozen, thaw it out like you would a crab before tossing them on the grill. Finecooking.com has a wonderful recipe for grilled lobster, and, as I already provided, a demonstrational video on how to properly kill them.
Our last two food entries shall be from the mollusk family. These shellfish are easily distinguished by their two part shells that protect the soft bodied organism inside. The most common form of mollusk found in supermarkets is the mussel, which is a family of clam whose shell grows out more ovular than the typical semi-circular shape. Nutrients wise, mussels contain incredibly high amounts of Vitamin B-12, as well as a mineral called Manganese. This mineral is used by your body to form bones and metabolize energy from the food you eat. Finally, mussels also contain iron and Vitamin C, which are both used in producing red blood cells and strengthening the circulatory system.
Mussels are simple to prepare; you thaw them out in a pot of cold water like you would any other shellfish. Once they’re ready, you can either boil your muscles directly over the grill, or cook them over a baking sheet, as seen in this recipe provided by eatingwell.com.
Finally we come to our last shellfish, the scallop. Easily the most recognisable clam on the market, scallops also come packing a higher concentration of the omega-3 fatty acid and Vitamin B12 than any of the previously mentioned shellfish. The downside to this is that they don’t have many other nutrients to offer. They do contain a fare amount of potassium, which is used in muscular function and maintaining a healthy blood pressure, but that’s about it.
Once again, scallops must be thawed out and washed like all your other shellfish before you work with them. Like mussels, there are several ways to go about grilling the scallop: you can boil them in a pot, cook them right over the grill, or put the meat on a kebab like in this recipe from allrecipes.com.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed our seafood series and learned something new about the capabilities of the grill. Next week we’ll be returning to the more traditional grilling foods. Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend and thanks for following.
Hey there and welcome to another installment of Grilling 101. This is the second blog in our seafood series, and following last week’s salmon blog, it only seems fair to talk about a white fish this week. And for this blog, I’ve decided to look at a fish that falls in the middle ground of commonly bought and expensive fish: the mahi-mahi.
The mahi-mahi, also known as the dolphin fish or very strong in Hawaiian, is a sub-tropical ocean fish. Due to its size and sizable population in the wild, mahi-mahi are commercially fished by countries all around the world, including the United States, Japan, the Caribbean Islands, Australia, France, and of course, Canada. This is mainly due to the fish’s relatively low mercury content, making it safer to regularly eat than other large saltwater fish, like swordfish and sailfish.
Like all fish, mahi-mahi is an excellent source of protein. Protein is one of the most essential nutrients for your body, as it assists in muscle growth, provides amino acids that form enzymes use by your cells to grow, and produces hemoglobin, which allows red blood cells to carry oxygen through your blood. Mahi-mahi also contains high traces of Vitamin B-5 and B-6. Both of these vitamins help your cells by supporting their metabolisms. Individually, Vitamin B-5 helps to produce hormones and B-6 helps with brain functions. Finally, mahi-mahi is loaded with potassium and selenium, two minerals that fight off heart disease and increase the strength of the immune system respectfully.
Grilling mahi-mahi isn’t too different than grilling salmon. However, you’re not going to be able to find whole dolphin fish easily, so chances are you’re going to be cooking with fillets. Before you work with the fish, your grill should be pre-oiled to help prevent it from sticking to the grill. This is especially easy for mahi-mahi, since it cannot be purchased with skin still attached, making it very easy to stick to your grill. However, I prefer to oil the fish rather than the grill; it produces the same results and means there is less clean up.
If you’re going to cook your fish directly on the grill, flip it every 5 to 10 minutes. If your fish is frozen, flip it when you begin to see one side turn white. It’s also recommended that you marinate the fish during the flipping process. You can use any kind of sauce you want for flavouring, but I recommend just using water, since the main intention of marinating during this time is to keep the fish from losing too much moisture and becoming dry. At this point you should sparingly flip the fish and test to see how flaky the flesh is becoming. This means that, if you press on the fish with your spatula or a fork, the flesh slides off in neat pieces. Once this happens, your meal is ready to go.
Of course, this is only one way of cooking a mahi-mahi. One of my favorite ways is to pan-sear it using butter and a cast-iron skillet on the grill. I hope you enjoy the mahi-mahi. It is a versatile fish and I’m sure you’ll soon develop your own facourite ways of cooking it up on the grill. Until next week, Happy Grilling!
Hey there and welcome to another installment of Grilling 101. Over the last few weeks I’ve covered some of the most popular and familiar grilling foods, and last week I took a look at various fruits and vegetables and how they can be done up in less than conventional grilling methods. Today is going to be the start of a new theme for the next few weeks, where we will be tackling seafood. To begin, let’s take a look at the salmon.
All species of salmon are anadromous fish, which mean they begin their life as freshwater fish and then migrate to salt water for their adult life, only returning to fresh water to breed. The most commonly seen salmon on the market are Atlantic, Coho, Sockeye, Pink, Chinook, and Chum. Most of these are caught fresh in the wild, but Atlantic salmon is primarily farm raised due to overfishing of the species in the past.
Salmon have a variety of health values to them, and have long since been considered one of the healthiest fish options. At face value this might seem strange; salmon are high in protein and calcium, but that’s about it. But while they might not contain much nutritional diversity, salmon have one of the highest sources of omega-3 in the natural world. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that your body needs to function, but cannot make on its own, so you have to get it from another source. It’s one of the best fatty acids out there, and helps primarily through the reduction of heart disease and blood clots, meaning you’re less likely to suffer fatal heart attacks or strokes.
When you’re ready to barbecue some salmon yourself, be sure to buy the fillets with the skin still attacked. This helps to prevent the fish from sticking to the grill. Your grill should also be pre-oiled, again to prevent sticking, but in my case, I prefer to oil the protein instead. Be sure that the first side of the fish that touches the grill is your presentation side. Don’t touch the salmon once they’re on the grill and let it cook on its own for around 2/3ds the cooking time, then test with a spatula. If the fish comes off the grill easily, flip it to the other side and let it cook for the remainder of the time. Depending on the size of the fillet, this can be anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes.
If you’re using a full fish rather than a fillet, the process is much the same, just be extremely gentle and careful when turning. You may also like to try grilling salmon on planks, in foil or in pans to get more amazing results from this amazingly versatile fish. The possibilities are endless. Happy grilling!!!
Hello there everyone, and welcome to another installment of Grilling 101. I hope you all had a wonderful Canada Day, as well as an eventful first week of July. Next weekend marks the 4th Whitby Ribfest at 1401-1453 Henry Street (Durham Fields). So to help get ourselves in the mood for next week, let’s talk about ribs here and now.
Whenever people talk about ribs, chances are they’re talking about pork ribs, though occasionally you’ll find beef ribs on the menu. Next to steaks, ribs are one of the most popular and sought after barbequed foods. And judging by the popularity of Ribfests, there’s a strong argument to be made that ribs surpass steaks as the king of the grill. Though like the steak, they are also among the easiest to mess up. But if done right, they’ll reward you with their juicy flavour and succulent meats that fall straight off the bone and into your mouth.
When purchasing ribs for yourself, the most common cuts available are baby back and spare ribs. Baby back ribs are ribs cut from the top of the rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs, below the loin muscle. These ribs are identified by their curved U shape, and generally come with 10 to 13 ribs per slab of meat. Baby back ribs are both the easiest cut to cook up and the ones most often used when making rib dishes. They more a expensive cut than spare ribs, due to the meatiness of the rib and the additional butchery involved prior to sale. They are basically ready to grill with minimal preparation.
Spare ribs are taken from the belly and side of the animal, just below the baby back ribs, and come in cuts including 11 to 13 ribs. This is also the origin of their name, since it looks like you’re taking what was left over from the animal. Spare ribs are larger and meatier than the baby back ribs, but are less tender and have higher fat contents as a trade-off. They are often done up in a special manner called the St. Louis Style, where the cartilage, sternum bone, and “skirt meat” are removed from the ribs before cooking.
No matter which rib you pick up, you always need to be careful not to ruin your meat. For starters, ribs need a long time to cook indirectly at low temperatures (nothing exceeding 235 degrees Fahrenheit). This is what gives them their succulent texture and flavour; too much heat or cooking too close to the heat source will dry out your meat or tighten it and leave you with nothing but shoe leather for dinner. Also, never sauce your ribs any earlier than the final 30 minutes or until after you’ve taken the ribs off the grill. While it might be tempting to put your sauces on earlier to caramelize it, saucing too early will burn your meat.
Preparing your ribs for grilling
Grilling ribs take time and preparation in order to get yourself the quality rack that you desire. A little time in the prep stage will pay huge dividends with the finished product. The first step in preparing the perfect rib is to remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. This is key, as membrane will dry out and give the ribs a leathery texture if not removed. To remove, simply grab the membrane from the small end of the ribs and pull towards the larger end. It can be a difficult task at times; some people use a spoon or other metal object to begin the separation process, allowing for enough to grab before pulling. In the event that the membrane is simply being too difficult to remove (it has happened to me on rare occasions) use a paring knife to diamond score the membrane to allow the connective tissue to break down in the cooking process. Check out this video by the BBQ Pit Boys on removing the membranes
After removing the membrane, it’s best to add a little moisture to your ribs before applying a dry rub. I like to begin by squirting a little mustard on the ribs to add both flavour and moisture. I’ve also been known to add some liquid smoke, chipotle Tobasco sauce (minimal heat, plenty of flavour), and/or cider vinegar. Not only do they add flavour, but they also help to tenderize the meat during the cooking process.
Next step is the dry rub. Dry rubs act as both a flavouring agent as well as a tenderizer for your ribs during the grilling process. It will also provide you with the beautiful bark that you get from ribs that have been prepared low and slow. You can use pretty much any type of dry rub that you like – there are many prepared rubs available on the market, or you can simply add your favourite herbs and spices to create your own rub.
Preheat your grill to a low temperature (235 to 250 degrees Farenheit) to allow the ribs to cook low and slow. This allows the fat to render, the meat to remain tender and best of all, the finished product will fall off the bone and melt in your mouth. I like to add a little liquid to the baking sheet to infuse additional moisture and flavour to the ribs during the cooking process. In this example I used coffee, but you can add apple juice, beer, bourbon, rum or any other liquid flavouring agent you’d like (Dr Pepper Ribs are HUGE among BBQ enthusiasts – recipe to follow). You should grill your ribs on indirect heat (unsauced) for 2.5 to 3 hours and finish them on direct heat for the final 10 to 15. This will allow you for the sauce to caramelize, not burn during the cooking process. I personally like to sauce my ribs AFTER I’ve finished cooking – this allows the sauce to compliment the flavour of the meat, rather than being cooked onto the ribs, but that is simply personal preference.
If you choose to go with beef ribs instead of pork, the basic grilling procedures are still the same. However, there are several fundamental differences between beef and pork ribs that, again, people either fail to take into account or end up over thinking. For example, beef ribs have a much thicker membrane than pork ribs, which should always be removed before you begin cooking or else the meat will develop tough and chewy. Also, you don’t need to turn up the temperature just because beef ribs have more meat on them. Cook them low and slow like you would with pork. One method that works well for cooking both pork and beef ribs is to wrap them in tin foil during the last 30 to 40 minutes of cooking. This helps to preserve moisture in the meat, which also tenderizes it.
The beautiful thing about ribs is that there are so many ways to cook them up, and each one offers a variety of flavours and benefits if done right. Remember though, the key to successful rib grilling starts in the preparation and by cooking them low and slow…
Here’s a recipe for Dr. Pepper Ribs by the Kissing Cook from http://food.com where she starts the ribs off in the oven and simply finishes them off on the grill. This is perfectly fine, though you can do this entirely on the grill, but cooking indirectly at 350 for two hours, then finishing on the grill as directed. Enjoy!
Place the ribs in a large baking dish. Pour in Dr. Pepper and cover them, reserving at least 1/2 cup for the sauce. Add he salt and soak the ribs in fridge overnight (or at least 2 hours).
Heat the oven to 350°F Remove the ribs from the liquid, dry them, and rub with the chili powder. Place them on a baking dish, add 1 cup of water, and cover tightly with foil. Cook for 2 hours, until the meat nearly falls off the bone.
For BBQ Sauce: Heat the oil in saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until they’re soft and fragrant and add the ketchup, Worcestershire, vinegar, cayenne and 1/2 cup of Dr. Pepper. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
Fire up the grill, and brush the ribs with sauce. When the grill is hot, cook them bone side down on a cooler part for 10 to 15 minutes. Flip them and cook until lightly charred and smoky.
Hey there folks, and welcome once again to Grilling 101. This week, in honour of the legalization of gay marriage in the USA and with Independence Day around the corner, I think it’s time to pay homage to our neighbors to the south and talk about America’s most iconic food item: the burger.
Burgers are up there with steaks and sausages as the most commonly BBQd food items. You can either make the patties yourself or buy them fresh or frozen at the grocery store. Personally, I prefer the former because you have more option for flavour if you prepare the meat from scratch.
Making a patty yourself is pretty easy—just take some ground meat and flatten it into a ¾ inch circular shape with your hands or a cooking mallet/spatula. However, you’ll want to make sure the meat has a high enough fat percentage to give the burger its flavouring. The best meat for this would be meat made from ground chuck (if grinding yourself)
or regular or medium ground meat at your local grocery stores. You’ll also want to add a selection of seasonings to the meat for added flavour(as simple as salt and pepper to a complex combination of herbs, spices and wet ingredients to the mix), as well as at least 2 or 3 tablespoons of water (if your seasoning mixture doesn’t include anything on the moist side). This is important because grinding meat causes moisture to escape from the muscle fibers, which results in your meat becoming dry and tougher to work with. The water works in tangent with the fat to give your burgers their iconic juicy texture every time you bite into them.
One common problem faced with cooking burgers is how the meat rises as it cooks. Burger meat rises mostly in its centre, which can result in the meat becoming more spherical instead of a nice flat surface for toppings to be placed on. If you notice this start to happen, use the back of a spoon to lightly press an indent into the meat before you put it on the grill.
Once you’ve prepared the meat, you’re ready to begin cooking it. Burgers are best cooked on high heat to get them done as soon as possible. It’s difficult to judge how long a burger takes to cook, but a good indicator is when you notice the fat beginning to collect on the side not touching the grill—an average time of 5 or 6 minutes. Once you see the fat beginning to bubble, that means the meat is beginning to cook through and it’s time to flip onto the other side. This time, cook the burger a 1 or 2 minutes less than you cooked the original side, or until the meat is universally brown. If you’re still unsure, use an internal thermometer to check if the burger is at 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Once they’re done, let the burgers sit for 5 minutes so the juices can recede back into the meat, as well as some final internal cooking to take place. Once those 5 minutes are up, your burger is ready to serve.
Now despite how simple the instructions sound, there are several common misconceptions about burgers that people do that are actually spoiling their meal. First off, people tend to overwork their meat during the preparation stage, which results it becoming overly dense. This is bad because it causes the burger to dry up faster. Secondly, you should never press your spatula down on the burger. It doesn’t help cook the meat faster, and instead you’re squeezing out all of your juices and making your earlier steps adding water and choosing high fat meats pointless. Instead of pressing on the burger with your spatula, you can apply a weight directly to the patty itself to insure even and proper cooking resulting in the juicy burgers that you desire.
When it comes to burger recipes, there are so many out there to choose from. I suggest that you settle on a recipe to become your signature patty, experiment with a few combinations and variations of your “signature” for variety and of course, follow these simple grilling instructions to wow both your guests and yourself as a “burger meister” of the BBQ.
Why don’t you check out this great burger recipe from http://foodandwine.com to test out your burger grilling skills. Don’t worry if you can’t find kimchi – substituting regular slaw dressed with the “special sauce” will be absolutely amazing. Enjoy!
In a small bowl, combine the sambal with the mayonnaise and ketchup and mix well.
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Grill the bacon over moderate heat, turning, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes total. Drain on paper towels.
Form the beef into eight 1/4-inch-thick burgers and season with salt. Grill over high heat, turning, until browned, 1 minute per side. Make 4 stacks of 2 burgers each on the grill and spoon 1 tablespoon of the sambal mayo over each stack. Top with the cheese, cover and grill over high heat just until the cheese is melted, about 1 minute.
Spread the remaining sambal mayo on the bottom buns. Top with the burgers, bacon and kimchi, close and serve.
Hey there, and welcome to another installment of our Grilling 101 blogs. Sadly this week was a bit hectic for us, and we weren’t able to get out a blog about Father’s Day. So instead, I’d like to take this time to talk about another popular grilling food: sausages.
Sausages are one of the oldest foods in existence, going back as far as 5000 years. They are generally categorized as ground meat mixed with fat, seasonings and—most importantly—salt and wrapped in a casing made of artificial protein or animal intestines. This allows the meat inside to be preserved over longer periods of time compared to more solid food items like steak and chicken breasts. Additionally, the salt in sausages helps to kill bacteria through a process called osmotic (the salt literally causes the bacteria to dehydrate), and dissolve globular proteins from the meats, which then act as binding matrix for the meats that remain in the sausage interior.
The majority of sausages are usually pork-based, but it is also possible to find turkey, beef, lamb, and chicken varieties. Sausages are dried by hanging them in rooms filled with cool circulating air to preserve them and enhance their flavours. Once they are dried, a sausage can be kept unrefrigerated for weeks.
While sausages are high in fat and sodium, they are also an excellent source of protein. Most sausages contain all of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce naturally, which are used in muscle and bone growth, as well as maintenance and repair to bodily tissues. Sausages also provide a variety of vitamins such as Vitamin A, B-6, C, E, and minerals that include foliate, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. The amount varies depending on what kind of sausage you’re cooking: pork sausages have higher potassium levels than beef sausages, which have higher levels of phosphorus and magnesium.
There are many ways to cook a sausage, and each comes with their own sets of risks and rewards. This is especially true when it comes to grilling. Sausages, like many meats, contract as they cook in proportion to the heat they are cooked over. So if you grill a sausage over high temperatures, the outside will contract quicker than the meat inside and the sausage will burst, spilling fats and meat onto your grill and into the flames, which results in flare-ups that can ruin what salvageable meat is left. And even if you take the sausage off the grill before this can happen, if you cut into it the meat is going to be raw, again because the outside cooked faster than the inside.
The best method for grilling sausages is to parboil your sausage to render fat from your sausages (placing them in to a pan of water and simmering for about 8 to 10 minutes) then finishing on the grill. If you want to go directly to grill and skip the rendering process, you’re best to start the sausages on a cooler part of the grill (medium/low heat) for approximately five minutes before turning and continuing grilling for an additional 5 to 6 minutes – remove from direct heat and indirectly heat for another 5 to 7 minutes (flipping once more) to ensure that the sausage is properly cooked without rupturing the casing. You can then add BBQ sauce (if desired) and finish on the grill for a couple of minutes of direct heating. You’ll know the sausages are done once they’ve reached an internal temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit, have clear juices running and have the desired degree of char / firmness in texture to the casing. Happy Grilling!!!