How To Grill

Our textbook
Season 1

Show 111: Healthy Grilling

Barbecue may not be what most people consider health food. (If anyone created a brisket, rib, and pork shoulder diet, I'd be the first one to sign up.) But grilling can be one of the world's healthiest cooking method, being naturally high in flavor, low in fat, and mercifully short on preparation time. In this show, the Professor tells you how to work grilling into a healthy diet.

Today's menu:

  • Chicken yakitori
  • Asian beef salad
  • Tuna steaks
  • Grilled zucchini
  • Grilled pineapple

  • Serve grilled meats as Asians do-in combination with a high proportion of vegetables, light starches (like rice noodles), and explosively flavorful condiments. Use the meat as an accent, rather than a big glob burying the plate
  • Small is beautiful. Try grilling small cuts of meat and kebabs, like Japanese-style yakitori or Indonesian sate.
  • Choose lean cuts of meat, like fillet mignon, pork loin, or boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • When working with fattier cuts, trim off any visible fat.
  • Swap steak for grilled fish, vegetables, and even grilled tofu. Serve lots of grilled vegetables.
  • Use rubs and herb pastes to add flavor without fat.
  • Make burgers from chopped fresh tuna or salmon or lean ground turkey.
  • Gently parboil (simmer) sausages in beer prior to cooking. (Prick them in several places with a toothpick.) This melts out some of the fat.
  • Burning meat fat produces minute traces of carcinogenic compounds. (Emphasis here on minute.) To eliminate this miniscule risk, cook fatty meats, like briskets and whole chickens, using the indirect method.
  • When grilling during daylight hours, don't forget to wear sunscreen.
ASIAN GRILLED BEEF SALAD printer-ready version

Serves 4 as a generous lunch salad or 6 as a first course.

1 flank steak (about 1-1/4 pounds)

for the marinade/ dressing:

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 3 scallions, white part minced, green part thinly sliced for garnish
  • 2 to 4 Thai or jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced (for spicier beef, leave the seeds in)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (or fish sauce)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
to finish the salad:
  • 1 ounce Asian rice noodles
  • 1 head Boston, bibb, or red leaf lettuce, broken into leaves, washed, and spun dry
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced and broken into rings
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • scallion greens (reserved from above)
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1. Score the flank steak on both sides in a crosshatch pattern, as shown in the photo. Arrange the steak in a baking dish just large enough to hold it.

2. Place the garlic, ginger, scallion whites, chilies, and sugar in a mixing bowl and mash to a paste with the back of the spoon. Add the soy sauce, lime juice, water, and sesame oil and stir or whisk until the sugar crystals are dissolved. Pour half the marinade over the steak and marinate for 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator, turning several times to insure even marinating.

3. Soak the rice noodles in cold water to cover in a large bowl for 1 hour. Taste them. If tender as is, drain well. If the rice noodles are still tough, cook in 3 quarts rapidly boiling water until tender 2 to 4 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water, and drain well.

4. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

5. Line your salad plates with large lettuce leaves. Tear the smaller leaves into 2 inch pieces. Place the lettuce pieces, cucumbers, onion, tomatoes, mint, cilantro, and basil in the mixing bowl with the reserved dressing, but to not mix.

6. Grill the flank steak until cooked to taste 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 3 minutes. Cut the steak into paper thin slices sharply on the diagonal.

7. Toss the salad and loosely mound it on the lettuce lined plates. Place a mound of rice noodles in the center of each. Fan the beef slices on top of the salad and sprinkle with the scallion greens and peanuts. Serve at once.

© 2006 Steven Raichlen | site design Benjamin Wilchfort