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The Power of the Flame

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved BBQs. The only trouble was, I’m English and it’s not exactly the perfect BBQing weather that our Aussie cousins are renowned for. I have many fond memories of mid BBQ with the heavens opening and my dad scrambling together some kind of make shift cover. Rain never called it off though!

BBQing brings out the hunter-gatherer ancestral past in us, staring at chunks of meat slowly crisping up. It was the first method of cooking us apes learnt, sous-viding and what not came a few years after! But even though it runs through our DNA, people still don’t know how to do it right. I’ve been to BBQs where the meat is taken out of the fridge a few seconds before cooking and then getting incinerated on open flames… Charred medium-rare chicken anyone?

Here are a few tricks I’ve learnt in order to make you look like a pro and lord of the flames.

1). Create space on the grill

A common mistake when BBQing is people throw all the coals in, then either spray a whole bottle of lighter fluid on or use a million and one of those small bricks. A) This takes ages to fire up and B) Once it’s lit, the whole BBQ will have one temperature. It’s much better to have one side lit and leave the other without the coals. That way you can switch between hot and cold, giving you a lot more control.

2). Make time

Resting meat is super important, I go on and on about this to all my customers but make sure to rest before and after cooking. I always take my steak off half way through cooking to let it sit and relax a little before finishing off.

3). Tools of the trade

There are so many gadgets out there that claim to help create the perfect BBQ. They’re cool and all, but the main things are simple: a good pair of tongs, a spatula and a kitchen knife. In HK we’re limited with space and where we can BBQ. A lot of us will end up in a local-free-to-use park, one like in Shek-O or in the hills. The trouble with these is you’re not going to be able to smoke or control the temperature as much as you’d like, as there’s no lid. Fear not, you can still get an awesome BBQ experience.

4). Lemon power!

A little bonus help, grab a lemon (even the old ones at the bottom of your fridge that didn’t make the cocktail cut) slice in half and, once the grill is nice and hot, rub one half along the grill. It helps degrease and get you ready for cooking. Then use the other half after cooking!

All in all, BBQing is an awesome event for everyone to enjoy. Just remember to take your time and don’t let the heat get too intense. If something is burning, move it to the cool side. If you want to get even fancier I like to have a mix of oil and butter next to me and brush the mixture onto your meat using a bouquet of herbs! Looks amazing and adds a lot of flavour.

Enjoy and cook safe!