For the first time in my life, I cooked on charcoal this week.
My reaction? Ok, the taste of the entr/e was top-notch. There is, in fact, an argument to the rich, smoky flavor that charcoal adds to anything being cooked on it.
But, I must admit, waiting for the coals to turn gray and become useable embers was painfully slow. Gas grill = ready to cook almost instantly. Charcoal actually means grab a beverage and wait to cook – at least 30 minutes.
To bring you up to speed, I’m offering dinner ideas this summer that can be grilled. Because I am currently without barbie, I am visiting friends’ homes or borrowing units.
This week, the newspaper’s professional adviser loaned me her black, table-top grill. Picture a mini Sputnik. The first couple of week’s on the column, I used two different gas grills, both with great success (how hard is it to screw up on these?)
For this week’s dinner, I opted for salmon steaks. We’ve had chicken kebabs and flank steak recently and considering the desert-esque temperatures, I wanted something light.
For about ten bucks at a local chain grocer, I bought four, fresh, farm-raised salmon steaks (I’m still researching the farm versus wild debate.) The bed for the steak was a Caesar salad made with crisp romaine, fresh parm cheese, croutons and homemade dressing.
Because this was my maiden experience with charcoal, I will admit to reading the instructions on the jumbo bag of Kingsford briques. I was directed to build a small pyramid inside the grill, douse with lighter fluid, ignite and wait a mere 15 minutes. This, I tell you, is a load.
After ignition, I retreated inside and seasoned the steaks with a little salt, ground cumin and coriander and freshly ground pepper. (The Food Network’s Alton Brown suggested the cumin and coriander).
I cut up the lettuce and grated the cheese. I had made the dressing earlier, using anchovies, Worcestershire, coddled eggs, ground pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh garlic and some parm cheese.
I returned to the back patio 15 minutes later and was ready to cook. Alas, the grill was not. The reality of charcoal cooking is that it can take a while for the coals to be ready. Do not use this grilling option if you are in a hurry or starving – I was both.
Once ready, I grabbed the hot grate with tongs, sprayed some oil on it and voila, I was cooking salmon steaks. Some six minutes later – about three minutes on each side – I was ready to go.
The salmon was tender and moist. The portions of the steaks that rested above the hottest areas of the grill obtained a sort of brownish, crispy crust but the moistness inside remained. Lay a steak on a nice portion of salad, squeeze a little lemon on top and enjoy!
My guest, Collegian photographer Katie Stevens, enjoyed the meal with me. Given an option, Katie said she would have enjoyed a much spicier rub on the fish. If you prefer more zing, consider a Cajun rub or a spicier, bottled marinade.
L’Chaim and B’Tay Avon (to life and eat well).
3 cloves of garlic
2 eggs coddled
10-12 grinds black pepper
1 lemon, juiced
7 drops Worcestershire sauce
1/4 – 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
9 tablespoons olive oil
To coddle the eggs place them in boiling water for one minute. Immediately take off the heat and run under cold water to halt cooking.
In a blender mix the first seven ingredients until creamy. Slowly pour in the olive oil until completely combined.
Let chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes and Enjoy!