Fourth of July Barbeque

July 4th is a time to celebrate throwing the British out. Most people think it had to do with taxes and rights and silly stuff like that, but foodies know that in a land of bountiful food we couldn’t be ruled by a people who make and eat bland, tasteless dishes.

It is also time dissolve the bands that connect you to the kitchen and enjoy outdoor pursuits of happiness such as grilling. The fun part of grilling is that it can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. The keystone components of grilling are preparation and patience. Grill temperature is important. Even if you use gas, you must let the cooking surface get hot or the food will stick to it. Once the surface is hot, season it with oil to prevent items from sticking to the grill. Having everything nearby before you start grilling is important since grilling is a quick cooking method.

With recent events in the Midwest the price of pork and beef are going to skyrocket. When in the course of grilling events the tyranny of pork prices forces one to break with tradition and grill seafood.

Local seafood will be the least expensive and tastiest. Pacific Salmon is short supply and the cost prohibitive. One of my favorite Jersey fish to cook on the grill is striped bass, but in order to enjoy it you must catch it yourself or know someonewho fishes due to New Jersey’s prohibition on commercial striped bass fishing. Striped Bass is a rich meaty fish that has a natural sweetness to it that lends itself to numerous cooking variations. One method I enjoy using with fish is a variation on the French classic cooking technique “en papillote” which is steaming in a parchment paper pouch. Since grilling paper is a task fraught with peril, aluminum foil works best.

It is necessary to oil the foil first so you’re not picking foil out of your teeth. Striped Bass works well with Asian flavors such as red curry, coconut milk and lemongrass. Make sure the foil packet is closed tight so the fish will remain moist.

Scallops are also great on the grill, but can be a little tricky. High heat and a light marinade are key. Here the purpose of the marinade is to add flavor and provide a little fat in the form of oil to prevent sticking. Be careful. Too much oil and your scallops will end up being little charcoal briquettes. Citrus works well with scallops. I like a combination of orange and lime juice and a short marinating time of 15-30 minutes. Otherwise, you end up with ceviche.

Another Jersey favorite is bluefish. Okay, people love it or hate it. Bluefish is strong flavored, but a short 20-minute soak in milk will mellow the flavor. Bluefish is a thicker fleshed fish so use a medium heat to cook with. To offset the strong flavor serve with fresh grilled vegetables with good olive oil and lots of fresh lemon and thyme.

This July, declare your independence from high pork and beef prices. Be a sunshine patriot and cook Red Curry Striped Bass, Juicy White Citrus Marinated Scallops and Grilled Bluefish. Until next month, Bon Appétit.

Red Curry Striped Bass

  • 1 Striped bass
  • 1 Cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tablespoons red curry
  • 1 Stalk lemon grass, split
  • 1 Teaspoon ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 Scallions, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro
  • 1 Large piece foil
  • 1 Lime, juiced

Clean bass. Mix all ingredients in bowl. Place bass on oiled foil. Pour over sauce/marinade. Wrap fish tightly in foil. Grill 15-20 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.

Citrus Marinated Scallops with Chipotle Cream

  • 1 Pound scallops
  • 2 Tablespoon garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons cilantro
  • 2 Oranges, quartered and juiced
  • 4 Limes, quartered and juiced
  • 2 Teaspoons lemon pepper
  • ¼ Cup chopped green onions
  • 2 Jalapeños, seeded and chopped

Clean abductor muscle off scallop. Mix all ingredients. Pour over scallops. Grill 3-4 minutes each side over medium high heat. Serve with chipotle cream.

Chipotle Cream

  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon cilantro
  • 1 Teaspoon chopped chipotle
  • ¼ Cup orange juice
  • 1 Cup heavy cream

In saucepan, melt butter. Sweat garlic. Add chipotles. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add orange juice. Reduce by half. Add cream. Reduce by half. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with scallops.

Bluefish with Grilled Vegetables

  • 1 Pound bluefish fillet
  • 2 Cups milk
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • 2 Lemons, sliced (One juiced, one mixed with ¼ cup melted butter)

Soak bluefish 20 minutes. Drain. Pat dry. Season. Grill 8-10 minutes per side. Brush with melted butter and lemon juice.

Grilled Vegetables

  • 1 Eggplant, peeled, cut in half moons
  • 1 Zucchini, cut in half moons
  • 1 Yellow squash, cut in half moons
  • 1 Red onion, sliced
  • 1 Red pepper, cut in squares

Toss veggies with salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons chopped thyme, ¼ cup olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Grill 3-5 minutes per side. Toss back in saved marinade. Serve with grilled bluefish.