The Last Of The Barbecue
I can’t remember a summer during which I have used the BBQ less often so I am determined to use it now to eke out the last of the longer evenings. The best tip these days is to have a griddle ready in the kitchen so that there can be an easy retreat if the weather caves in. Here are two ideas – one Thai, one Indian – that should help inspire you.
Barbecued Lemon Chicken with Nam Jim Dressing
A basic Nam Jim is most commonly used for grilled or steamed seafood but also stunning spooned over chicken and rare beef. It will typically contain garlic, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, and bird’s eye chillies. I have reduced the amount of chilli for a gentler flavour but this is purely a matter of personal taste. If possible use a pestle and mortar. This is not only the most traditional and authentic method but also yields the best result. It is important to make the dressing shortly before using.
Nam Jim Dressing
1 small knob of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 bird’s eye chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 small shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 limes, juiced
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp palm sugar
1 small bunch coriander stems (and roots if available, reserve the leaves for another use)
Pinch of sea salt
Put coriander stems and garlic in a pestle & mortar, add a pinch of salt and pound until they begin to form a paste. Then add ginger, chilli and shallot and pound again until they have started to break down. Add lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar and mix again. Taste to check the balance of seasonings. The Nam Jim should be sweet, sour, hot and salty. Add more lime juice, sugar or fish sauce as required.
To marinate the chicken
4 large free range chicken breasts, skin on
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, flattened
Season the chicken on both sides with salt. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic in a dish. Add the chicken, turning once or twice to get it well coated with the marinade. Cover and leave for several hours but ideally overnight. Turn once during this time.
To barbecue the chicken
The chicken breasts may be cooked on the barbecue or on a cast iron griddle pan – even the griddle pan will give the lovely chargrilled exterior which adds so much to the flavour.
Remove the chicken from the marinade, pat dry with some kitchen paper and then drizzle a little olive oil over the surface. Place the chicken on the barbecue skin side down. Allow to cook without moving it at all until the underside of the chicken is a rich golden colour, about 5-7 minutes. Turn the chicken over and continue cooking until the chicken is tender.
Exact timing will vary enormously depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. Slice the chicken and spoon over the Nam Jim dressing.
Sea Bass with Dill, Mustard & Madras Curry Powder
Sometimes when I read a recipe, I generally have a sense of what the resulting taste will be like. I was a little baffled by this one – wholegrain mustard, madras curry powder, dill and lime juice seemed like a strange combination to me. But it really works. It is a thick marinade which completely coats the fish and on this occasion it is almost like the fish accompanies the marinade. I cook it skin side down on the barbecue (with the lid down) and then I simply slide it off the skin and serve it – generally on its own. It really does not need any more, it is a course in itself.
This marinade would work with any white fish, but it’s important not to marinate the fish longer than a couple of hours, as the lime juice will start to cure the fish. Use plenty of dill or substitute fennel or chervil. The cooking time will be quite brief, as it’s important to keep the fish moist.
4 sea bass fillets, about 120-150g, skin on
For the marinade:
60ml sunflower oil, plus extra for basting
40ml lime juice
3 tbsp chopped dill
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 tsp Madras curry powder (or substitute another curry powder)
½ tsp turmeric
Put all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Season the fish with salt and add to the marinade. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.
Remove the fish from the marinade. Drizzle a little sunflower oil over the skin side of the fish and place the fish, skin side down on the barbecue. Cook, with the lid down if possible for 4-5 minutes. The exact timing will depend on the thickness of the fish. Using a fish slice, remove the fish, leaving the skin behind. Serve immediately.