One good thing about summer is definitely the outdoor cooking.
Two years ago, my husband bought himself what the Spanish call a “plancha”, which is basically a large cast-iron plate heated from underneath with 2-5 gas burners. Some people call it a flat-top grill. Unlike with a traditional wood-fire barbeque grill, food is not in direct contact with the flames and stays moister. Small items do not fall through the grate, and you do not necessarily have to spend time spearing bits of food onto skewers, you just toss everything with a large spatula. It’s supposedly better for your health because there is less smoke and fewer particulates – everything tastes great – but I do sometimes miss that smoky BBQ flavour you only get from doing your steak over fire.
I particularly like doing fish and shrimp on the plancha. There’s no need for recipes for that – just oil your fish slightly, cook it and then season it in your plate. (or marinate, or slit the skin and rub in herbs or whatever)
People often talk about doing tuna or swordfish steaks on the grill, but except for once, mine were always served bone dry due to overcooking. I came up with the following recipe for tuna loin a couple of years ago and it is foolproof. The only thing is, it’s only barely cooked, so if you can’t do raw-ish, then look away now.
Rare tuna loin in a coconut crust with soy emulsion
- Buy 1-2 very fresh tuna loins
- Mix some bread crumbs with some dessicated, grated coconut, a large pinch of salt and pepper from the mill
- Evenly coat the tuna
- Fry for 1-2 minutes each side
- Let cool and serve warm or cold with the soy emulsion
To make the soy emulsion:
1 tablespoon (tbsp) mustard
1 teaspoon (tsp) honey
1 tbsp soja sauce
1/2 clove of garlic
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp ketchup
sea salt flakes, pepper
- Mix all the ingredients – except the sunflower oil – with a small whisk.
- Add the oil drop by drop at first, then in a thin stream, while constantly whisking, like you would for a mayonnaise.
- When the sauce has the consistency you want (halfway between liquid and solid?), stop.
Serve with rice (and a carrot-mango salad!).
Today, I bought a large side of wild Pacific salmon and didn’t want to portion it before cooking. Also, I wanted to preserve its juicyness and decided to cook it en papillote – in tinfoil – on top of the grill.
Salmon in coconut curry a la plancha:
All I did was prepare a large sheet of tinfoil (I would recommend extra-strength to avoid it tearing and the sauce running all over the place).
- Oil the tinfoil sparingly (sunflower, peanut, rapeseed…)
- Place the salmon skin-side down onto the tinfoil and sprinkle with the curry powder of your choice
- Lightly salt with sea salt flakes
- Pour over a small carton of coconut milk or cream (about 200ml)
- Close it up tightly and place it onto the hot grill, then lower the heat a bit
- Cook for about 15-20 minutes (less if you like it “mi-cuit” – half done)
Serve with whatever you like. Tonight it was spuds and salad for us, with a side of papaya chutney. Yum!