A cornucopia of Memorial Day grilling ideas

By Tina Wasserman
Memorial Day. The unofficial start of summer, the last school holiday and the time to get out all the grilling recipes you wanted to try last year or did try and marked the recipe with “great.”
Grilling is no longer relegated to steak, hamburgers and hot dogs. If you look at a housewares catalog, you will find woks for the grill, vertical holders for roasting jalapeños, plates that have indentations to hold seafood or stands to insert a can of beer into a chicken cavity while it grills. And recently, while perusing goods in a store, I saw specialty sheets that go over the grill so no food falls through the cracks. I wonder if the food still has a smoky taste?
The following recipes will transform basic fare to fantastic, and you don’t need any special utensils other than a good spatula, tongs and some long skewers (preferably flattened, not round, and, if you can find them, nonstick). Enjoy and don’t forget the marshmallows.

Sate Manis

I have been making this recipe since I was a teenager when I fell in love with the taste of coriander. Unlike cilantro, which is the plant’s leaf, the seed has a warm, sweet flavor that adds a wonderful accent to a dish. Coupled with the caraway seed, this basic marinade takes on a greater dimension, which will impress. I promise.
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons garlic powder or 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1½-2 pounds shoulder, chuck or rib-eye steak
1. Combine the first seven ingredients in a 2-quart glass bowl.
2. Cut the meat into 1½-inch cubes and place the cubes in the bowl with the marinade. Marinate at least 1 hour, or overnight.
3. Skewer the meat with any vegetables you desire (I recommend wedges of onion, green pepper, cherry tomatoes and mushroom caps).
4. Broil over hot coals for 10-15 minutes, or until meat is the desired color.
5. Serve with the accompanying sauce if you wish.
½ cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
1. Combine water and lemon juice. Set aside.
2. Whisk peanut butter and slowly add the water mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time, until you get a smooth sauce consistency. NOTE: You will not use all of the lemon water.
3. Stir in the red pepper flakes and salt. Serve with Sate Manis.
Tina’s Tidbits —————————
• When creating a marinade, always include an acidic ingredient such as citrus juice, vinegar, wine or soy sauce. The acid tenderizes the meat.
• Beef can withstand longer marinating and often needs it to tenderize tougher sections.
• Beef and lamb can be marinated, covered, at room temperature for half the time called for in the refrigerator. I.e., 4-6 hours can be 2-3 sitting in a cool part of your kitchen (not near a window on a summer’s day).

Grilled Tofu Thai-Styled

Tofu provides a neutral platform for building rich flavors. Marinating adds flavor, and I find lightly piercing the thickly sliced tofu before marinating allows the flavors to permeate the interior of the tofu, creating a richer taste.
12 ounces extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Thai red or green curry paste
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 or more tablespoons canned coconut milk
1. Remove the tofu from its package and rinse. Wrap in paper towel and place a large bowl or teapot over it for 20-40 minutes to press out excess moisture. Paper towels can be replaced if excessively wet.
2. While the tofu is being pressed, combine the next four ingredients in a 9-inch glass pie plate or other non-metal dish with sides. Set aside.
3. Slice the tofu lengthwise into ½-inch slices and pierce the surface with a toothpick. Place in the dish with the marinade and marinate for at least 30 minutes or longer.
4. Combine the peanut butter with enough coconut milk to make a smooth paste. Remove tofu to a plate and add any remaining marinade to the peanut mixture. Set aside.
5. Grill the tofu over medium high heat until golden brown on both sides, brushing each side with some of the peanut sauce. Do not let the tofu burn.
6. Serve as steaks or cubed over a salad or rice with any remaining sauce.
Serves 2-4 for an entrée or salad.
Tina’s Tidbits —————————
• Because tofu is a plant protein, it is safe to add the used marinade to the peanut sauce for basting and dressing later. Never reuse a marinade from chicken or fish without boiling it first or you could get sick.
• Grilled tofu can be refrigerated and then added to a salad or even a sandwich for a high-protein, low-fat alternative to steak or chicken.

Grilled Chicken with Spices

Sometimes you want your chicken to be flavorful but not smothered in a sauce. This recipe is the perfect answer to your wish, and it is fast to prepare and fast to cook.
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon coriander seed, crushed
1 tablespoon black peppercorn, crushed
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1-1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1. Combine all of the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
2. Remove the fillets (if present) from the breast. If the white membrane is present in the fillet, remove it using the technique listed below. Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry. If necessary, lightly pound the breast to make the thickness of the meat uniform.
3. Rub the chicken breasts with some of the spice rub to coat well. Cover and keep at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to marinate. If marinating for several hours, keep food in the refrigerator but bring to room temperature before grilling.
4. Grill the chicken breasts for 3 minutes per side, or until firm but springy to the touch.
Tina’s Tidbits —————————
• If a chicken breast looks very thick at the wide end, the fillet or chicken tender is probably attached. Look for a white satiny strand through the meat. Gently pull the fillet out of its membrane sac. Hold on to the tip of the white membrane while you slide a knife’s edge on a 45-degree angle along the membrane beneath the meat and gently tug the membrane free. This prevents the fillet from curling up when grilled.
• Rule of thumb is to estimate 10 minutes per inch thickness for grilling chicken, fish and beef. Since boneless chicken breasts are generally ¾ of an inch, you can estimate 6-7 minutes total time for cooking. The same is true when you are pan-frying.
• Chicken may be cut into cubes before marinating and then skewered with vegetables.

Grilled Swordfish with Papaya-Pineapple Salsa

Many years ago, swordfish was declared kosher by the Masorti rabbinate because the fish had scales in its embryonic stage. If you don’t want to use this fish, tuna, salmon or any thick fish fillet will do just fine. Just be careful if you grill tuna. It can go from moist to “Chicken of the Sea” in a nanosecond.
1½ pounds swordfish steaks, cut ¾-inch thick
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon minced fresh Mexican Mint Marigold (or tarragon)
1 ripe papaya, peeled and de-seeded
½ medium pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into irregular chunks
1 tablespoon minced fresh Mexican Mint Marigold
Lime juice to taste
1. Marinate the swordfish in the oil, lime juice, coriander and mint marigold for 15-30 minutes.
2. Prepare the salsa by placing the papaya meat in a processor work bowl with the pineapple. Pulse on and off 10 times or until mixture looks slightly coarse. Don’t over-process, or you will have soup. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Mince the Mint Marigold so that the herb is small but of uniform size. Stir into the papaya mixture. Add a little lime juice to taste and refrigerate until ready to use.
4. Heat a grill and cook the swordfish for 3-4 minutes on each side until tender but not overdone.
5. Serve the fish with some of the salsa draped over the fish and pass the rest.
Tina’s Tidbits —————————
• Never marinate fish for more than 30 minutes, or you will wind up “cooking” the fish in the acidic marinade.

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