Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Grilled Prawns and Vegetables

I may be a lot of things, but a grill master I am not. I don't know why but somehow I have always found grilling food to be a challenge. Every summer I make a few (quite lame) attempts at grilling and usually end up burning the food. After each failure I usually succumb back into my safe world of stove-top and oven cooking.

However this summer I have decided that I want to conquer my grill inadequacies once and for all. Part of this desire stemmed from the fact that I am constantly seeing great grill recipes online and on Food Network and I so badly want to try them out. Also, I recently came back from visiting some family friends who showed me how easy and delicious grilling can truly be.

I decided that I needed to start small and work my way up. Therefore on day one, I settled on grilling some corn on the cob and zucchini slices that I quickly marinated. Result: success! Moving on to day two, I grilled some wine-marinated prawns and chipotle-lime chicken. Result: another success!

Both days I was so proud of myself and could not stop bragging to all of my family members. Part of my success came from some helpful tips I picked up, which I will definitely share.
  • Tip one: Make sure your grill is clean! An easy way to do this is to spray some PAM on the grates, turn it onto the highest heat, and close the lid. The oil will burn up in the heat and the grill will be ready to use once the grill is no longer smoking. Also make sure to scrape the grates well for any bits that may have gotten stuck to it.
  • Tip two: Brush the grates with an onion. This helps to keep the food from sticking to the grill, especially anything that may have been marinated. Simply cut an onion in half, stick a fork in it, and rub it vigorously up and down all over the surface of the grill. Don't toss the onion because you can keep using it in between each batch of food if you have multiple items to grill.
  • Tip three: Don't overflip! I was definitely guilty of this before. The way to achieve good food and those beautiful grill marks is to allow the food to cook through and develop flavor. Put the food on the grill, close the lid, and give it some time (depending on what you're cooking), before you flip it. With each additional flip or handling of the food you are only making it tougher. Generally, unless you are rotating something like corn, each food item only has two sides so really you only need to flip it once.
  • Tip four: Let it rest. This step isn't as necessary for something like vegetables or even smaller proteins like prawns. However if you're making something bigger like steak this is a must. Allowing the meat to rest gives it time to finish developing flavor. If you cut into it right away the juices will run out and be left on the plate or cutting board rather than incorporating into the meat.
I realize that I still have more things to learn when it comes to grilling and most likely I may still make some grilling mistakes. Still, I'm hopeful that these past two nights were just a preview of many more grilling successes.

Grilled Prawns and Vegetables
Note: My mother marinated the prawns and did very rough measurements. I too did not measure out the ingredients for the zucchini marinade. Therefore the quantities are not precise and can be adjusted.

For the prawns:
  • 36 raw jumbo prawns, in shell and deveined
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried parsley flakes (can be substituted with basil, thyme, or oregano)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp honey
  1. Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade and pour onto the prawns. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
  2. Once ready to grill, put 3 or 4 shrimp onto each skewer. If using bamboo or wooden skewers make sure to soak them in water first so they don't burn.
  3. Turn the grill onto medium heat. Place the skewers evenly across the grates and close the lid. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. The prawns should be pink once they're done.
For the zucchini and corn:
Note: The corn did not require a marinade; it was stripped from the husk and wrapped in aluminum foil.
  • 3 large zucchini, sliced diagonally
  • 2-3 tbsp Frank's Red Hot Chile n' Lime sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp garlic plus seasoning
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper
  1. Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade and toss the zucchini slices in it to evenly coat.
  2. Turn the grill onto medium-low heat. Spread the zucchini slices evenly across the grates and close the lid. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until the zucchini are fork tender.
  3. For the corn: Place the corn on the grill turned onto medium-high heat. Quarter-rotate the corn every five minutes until all sides are finished.

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