A Beachy Grilling Menu from Elizabeth Karmel
Taming the Flame: 20 Meals from the Grill by Elizabeth KarmelIn this weekly column, grilling expert Elizabeth Karmel shares menus for full meals cooked on the grill (with occasional allowances for a no-cook or make-ahead dish that's not grilled). In this column, she shares recipes inspired by the seashore: Salt and Pepper Shrimp with Lemon-Saffron Aioli, Black and Blue Sahimi Tuna Steaks with Wasabi-Soy Dipping Sauce and Grilled Summer Vegetables.
About the Beachy Grilling MenuGrowing up in North Carolina, I took the beach for granted. But once I left home for the big city, I yearned for the beach and it is still my favorite summer vacation. But this summer, I am not going to make it to the beach, so I am cooking up a menu that will make me feel like I am there. And, if you are at the beach, even better!
The key to my Salt and Pepper Shrimp with Lemon Saffron Aioli is to buy the largest shrimp in the shell that you can find. If you can find them truly fresh, buy them. But most shrimp has been previously frozen and then thawed before being put in the seafood case at the store -- and you are better off buying them frozen and thawing them yourself just before grilling than buying them thawed. The longer they are thawed, the quicker they deteriorate and that nice firm texture gives way to a mealy one. My favorite way to buy shrimp when I am not at the beach is to buy frozen IQF (individually quick frozen) shrimp and thaw them in cold water just before grilling them.
The lemon-saffron aioli is even better when it's made a day before serving, and with the dipping sauce done, the shrimp become a quick and easy app to prepare. Simply toss the shrimp in olive oil, salt and pepper, grill quickly over a high heat; peel and dip in the bright and rich lemon and garlic aioli. The aioli also makes a dynamite substitute for mayo in shrimp salad.
The Black and Blue Sashimi Tuna Steaks with Wasabi-Soy Dipping Sauce is equally at home in the backyard and super-simple to prepare. The hardest job is making sure you purchase sashimi-grade tuna as you will be searing the outside but leaving the inside pink and cool to the touch. I love the contrast of the seared crust and the sushi-like raw pink tuna on the inside, gingerly dipped into a classic wasabi-soy dipping sauce. I love wasabi, so I always add an extra pinch -- let your own taste buds guide you about how much you want to use.
Ten Tips for Great Grilled VegetablesFor the grilled summer vegetables, I buy whatever appeals to me at the farmers' market and grill it! It might be corn, or okra or scallions or green beans -- whatever looks good. Everyone asks me about using special equipment to grill vegetables. I don't really think you need anything beyond a grill and a pair of locking chef tongs. That said, below are guidelines to grilling vegetables.
1. Slice all vegetables at least 1/2 -inch thick. If the vegetables are small, grill whole and chop after they have been grilled or thread on a soaked bamboo skewer before grilling.
2. Coat the vegetables with a thin layer of olive oil. Use my plastic bag trick to do the job quickly and efficiently: Place the sliced vegetables in a resealable plastic bag; only fill the bag half-way full. Add just enough olive oil to coat the vegetables, about 1-2 tablespoons. Seal the bag and massage the vegetables to coat with oil.
3. Sprinkle with Kosher salt or sea salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired. The salt is essential since it will help to draw out the natural sugars and promote caramelization. I prefer Morton kosher salt for grilled food because it is larger grained and it doesn't dissolve as quickly as Diamond Crystal kosher salt.
4. Preheat your gas grill or wait until your charcoal is covered with gray ash; and reduce the heat to medium or else the vegetables will burn on the outside and be raw on the inside. Make sure your cooking grates are clean.
5. Place vegetables on the grill going the opposite direction of the cooking grates. This will prevent the veggies from falling through the grates.
6. Turn with a pair of locking chef tongs. Slide the tongs gently under the center of the food in the thickest part when turning.
7. Turn only once, halfway through the cooking time.
8. Remove veggies when they are crisp tender -- they will continue to cook a little once they come off the grill.
9. Taste the grilled vegetables while still hot and if they need more salt, add a bit while still warm. Do not try to season the vegetables once they have cooled.
10. Experiment with all kinds of vegetables. Even Brussels sprouts taste better from the grill!
To complete my favorite summer meal, I always also include a large platter of sliced homegrown tomatoes, drizzled with a bit of my favorite olive oil and sprinkled with fleur de sel.
More Barbecue and Grilling from KitchenDaily
- Browse more barbecue and grilling menus by Elizabeth Karmel.
- View how to grill videos.
- Get Elizabeth Karmel's grilled antipasto recipe.