WHEN it comes to cooking food over charcoal most of us aren't exactly adventurous and sausages, ribs, burgers, and if you're lucky, a chicken kebab, black on the outside and pink in the middle, seem to be the limit of our barbecuing ambitions. The barbeque season is in full flow at the moment and every day we offer a few specials from the barbeque at Read's for the lunchtime terrace menu. For me, nothing quite beats the smell of fresh sardines roasting over hot coals, the aroma is fantastic and if you drizzle a touch of chopped parsley and garlic with sea salt and olive oil over them it's pure heaven. o why do most people get barbequing so wrong? The biggest problem is that most people are in a hurry, trying to cook too quickly with lots of flames and not letting the coals burn enough beforehand to reach the desired temperature. So light your barbeque at least half–an–hour in advance and never start cooking until the coals are a dusty white colour with a reddish glow. Take your time and cook slowly without flames to cook your meat all the way through with a nice golden brown colour. Marinating meat and fish prior to grilling is always a good idea as this adds flavour and helps to tenderize the meat. For a Mediterranean touch you could try lamb cutlets with rosemary and preserved lemons or chicken with marjoram, olive oil and garlic. You could also spice things up with chillies “piri–piri” style or Moroccan style with “chermoula”. Summer vegetables such as aubergines, peppers and courgettes are perfect for char–grilling and for dessert you could try a fresh fruit kebab with thick slices of pineapple and banana with a simple honey and lime dressing. Here are a few recipes that that you can adapt for your grill or cook inside if the sun refuses to shine. Once you feel comfortable cooking over hot coals you can forget the oven and your microwave and cook everything “al–fresco” in the fresh air and have some fun with your barbeque.

Piri–piri chicken (serves 4)

4 chicken breasts
2 tbsps chopped, fresh red chillies
50ml lemon juice
50ml olive oil
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp chopped, fresh coriander
Cut the chicken breasts, lengthways, into 4 even pieces.
Place the remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend to a puree.
Pour half the sauce over the chicken pieces and marinate in the fridge for at least 4–6 hours. Heat a griddle pan and fry the chicken pieces over a fierce heat for 2–3 minutes on each side. Remove and place in a hot oven for 3–4 minutes to finish cooking. Serve the chicken pieces with a big green salad and the remaining sauce for dipping.

Spiced lamb cutlets with chermoula (serves 4)

12 lamb ribs
1 tbsp ground coriander, cumin and cardamom

2 garlic cloves
4 tbsp chopped coriander
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tspn ground cumin seeds
1 tspn cayenne pepper
2 tbsp paprika
To make the chermoula, place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend to a fine pure. Preserve in the fridge until ready to serve.
Sprinkle the lamb cutlets with the spices and seasoning. Grill over hot coals until crisp on the outside and tender pink in the middle.
Drizzle with a tablespoon of chermoula and serve immediately.
Fillet of beef “teriyaki” serves 4

1 kl fillet of beef
1 tpsn chopped ginger
1 tsp chopped garlic
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sake 2 tbsp.
Chopped coriander, Salt and pepper
2 tbsp oyster sauce
Cut fillet of beef into slices, place in a bowl, add ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sake. Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Remove beef fillet, heat 2tsp. olive oil in a frying pan and fry quickly the beef fillets. Remove from the pan and add the marinade, the oyster sauce and bring to the boil add coriander and season.

Pour over the beef slices and serve.


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