By Ernest Barteldes
Among the many cooking methods I use, grilling is by far my favorite. It is easy and also very healthy, since you use very little oil and whatever fat in the food pretty much goes away. Living in an apartment does not allow for much of it in the outdoors, but I do have an electric indoor grill that Renata gave me a few Christmases ago. It’s not one of the George Foreman models but a more common one with a small hole on one side to drain fats away from the food.
Because the griddle uses a lot of electricity (when I turn it on, the lights in the kitchen dim a little), I don’t use as often as I’d like, but when I do it is bliss. I’ve been to hibachi restaurants a few times, and I carefully observed how the chefs there work, and that is pretty much my approach – heat up a little oil and begin with the veggies. Once they are done, I put them in a hot plate in the oven (very low heat, just to keep everything warm), and then conclude with the meats. I try to keep things simple and not to go too crazy – after all, that is all what grilling is about. I also enjoy using cooking wine in the process, gently sprinkling the wine on the vegetables or meat as they cook – a trick to keep everything moist and juicy that I learned observing the cooks at a local Hibachi place.
I recall one time when a couple came over while I was grilling some chicken. They brought some salmon and shrimp, and we came up with the idea of cooking the seafood on skewers with a touch of unfiltered palm oil. I recall it was quite the feast – we ended up talking and listening to music until the small hours – and we all had to go to work the next day.
Grilling fish can be tricky – you should always choose a fish that does not flake easily, such as tilapia, salmon or ahi tuna. I did try codfish and flounder, but unfortunately the results were not as good, since they broke up during the process (it was very edible, but the presentation was definitely not the best.
I recently pulled out the grill to make my favorite grilled tilapia – a very easy dish that includes bell peppers, onions and mushrooms that goes great with either a side of rice or sautéed potatoes.
GRILLED TILAPIA WITH PEPPERS, ONIONS AND MUSHROOMS
(Makes four servings)
4 tilapia fillets
8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced.
1 bell pepper, sliced and seeded
1 large white onion, sliced
1 tbsp. olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste (or seasoning salt)
About ½ cup white cooking wine
Heat up the griddle to about 300 F. Spread half the olive oil until heated. Add the onions and peppers. Sautee until they are beginning to soften, and add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with a little cooking wine and sauté until the mushrooms are done and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Remove from heat and transfer to a hot plate or put into the oven in an ovenproof plate in very low heat. Add the remaining olive oil and put the fish on the grill. Season with salt and pepper (or seasoning salt). Sprinkle with the remaining cooking wine and turn once when one side is done. Serve with the vegetables and white rice or sautéed potatoes.