PHOTO fotoaloja

Don’t start with the chicken wings

Once the fire has started, the temptation is high to dive right into cooking chicken wings. However, Chef Nicholas Lee cautions that the high heat might char the outside of the wings too much, leaving the insides undercooked. If you have steaks, grill them first to take advantage of the high heat, then switch to your wings after the fire cools.

Know your hot and cold zones

Most of us have probably made this mistake before ─ chucking all the BBQ food haphazardly around the grill, as and where there’s an empty space. But that’s not the most efficient way to cook. Instead, place thinly sliced foods (mushrooms, satays, steaks that are less than 1-inch thick) over the hot zone, which is typically the middle of the grill where the heat is the strongest. Use the cool zone, at the outer sides of the grill, for thicker or larger foods like wings, corn on the cob and sweet potatoes.

Move your food around

If you have got thick cuts of steaks and pork chops, you can start them on the cool zone. When they’re almost at the desired doneness, give them a quick sear over the hot zone to achieve that highly desired pink-centred meat with a good char on the outside. It’ll take about 3-5min on each side, over the cool zone, to get a one-inch thick steak to just under medium rare.

Greens are great on the barbie too

There’s no reason why the usual veggies shouldn’t show up on the grill. Chef Ang Hui Juan suggests the likes of kailan, cauliflower, as well as thinly sliced zucchinis and eggplants. Just remember to put them on the hot zone.

Add wood chips to dial up the flavour

While charcoal-cooking does lend smokiness, if you’re really seeking a complex aroma, Chef Nicholas recommends scattering wood chips over the charcoal. It’s inexpensive (a bag of hickory wood chips is only $6.40 on redmart.com) and the flavour oomph it adds is significant.

Alternatively, head out to Charcoal Pit for a rooftop barbecue-dining experience at #12-00 Realty Centre, 15 Enggor Street, tel: 8822-5991. Open Mon to Fri, 11.30am-2.30pm, 5-10pm; Sat 11.30am-10pm.