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Friday, November 19, 2010

Red Bandana: Learning BBQ With Steven Raichlen

I love to run, and I love to BBQ. The tension between a high fat diet and a low fat body exists. I am not alone in my desire to eat well and be healthy.

Steve and I grill together almost every Sunday. He fires up a few grills, and he breaks out some incredible globally-discovered recipes. A few ingredients are expertly sliced and laid upon the grill, and magic begins. Smoke, whether from carefully prepared hickory chips or by using straight charcoal, flows around his meals, lifting herbs, spices and imagination into the air. Plucked almost from Eden are delicious meals that appeal to more than prehistoric grunting men, but foodies of all flavors.

There's one thing, though. I have not yet tasted one morsel from his grill. We have never met. You see, this Steve is grillmaster Steven Raichlen, the host of "Primal Grill" on Channel 20, WYCC at 2:30 pm. He looks fit, and obviously shares my love of BBQing, so I asked him a few questions via e-mail. He says he isn't a runner but is active as a cyclist. A simple calisthenic routine every other day completes his workout routine.]

Q: Any Fit-focused BBQ Tips?
A: Take a cue from the Asian culinary repertoire, he says. Meat isn't the star there as it is here. "For example, thin slices of grilled meat, chicken, or fish might be rolled into a lettuce leaf along with some vegetables (such as bean sprouts) and served with a light but flavorful dipping sauce."

Looking good can relate to eating good, which brings us back to looking good. Raichlen says, "A platter of grilled vegetables–peppers, eggplant, zucchini, onions, yellow squash, etc.–can be the most appealing dish on the table, especially if dusted with freshly-grated Parmesan and a shower of chopped fresh herbs. A side of couscous or orzo pasta, and you've got a meal."

Portobello mushrooms can replace hamburgers, Raichlen continued. "Marinate them in a good vinaigrette, then grill. Top with low-fat cheese, roasted red peppers, etc."

Fish? Yes, of course, and convenient too. "Grill heart-healthy fish like salmon on planks–you don't have coat the fish with oil (as you do when it goes directly on the grill grate), and you don't have to turn it."

But I like sweets. Help! Raichlen suggests "grilled fruit–peaches, apples, pineapple, etc.–make terrific low-cal desserts. I dust mine with cinnamon-laced turbinado sugar; serve warm with low-fat ice cream."

Raichlen's beef sate looks far more complicated to make than it is. Give it a go and report back.


How: Direct grilling
Advance preparation: At least 3 hours for marinating the beef. As long as overnight. The longer, the better.
Serves: 6 as an appetizer; 4 as a light main course.

1-1/2 pounds rib-eye steaks, cut 1/2 inch thick

For the marinade:

3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce or soy sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Singapore Cucumber Relish (optional—recipes follows)

You'll also need: 8-inch bamboo skewers; grill shield or aluminum foil (a 12 by 18 inch sheet folded in thirds like a business letter with shiny side out)

Cut each steak, including the fat, into 1 inch strips (each 1/4 inch thick) and place in a nonreactive mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar, coriander, turmeric, cumin, pepper, fish sauce, and vegetable oil. Marinate the beef, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours and as long as overnight.

Thread the beef strips onto bamboo skewers leaving the bottom half of each skewer exposed as a handle and the top 1/4-inch of the skewer exposed as a point. The recipe can be prepared several hours ahead to this stage.

Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Brush and oil the grill grate.

Arrange the sates on the grate, sliding the grill shield or folded foil under the exposed part of the skewers to keep them from burning. Grill until cooked to taste, about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side for medium rare, a little longer for medium. (In general, Southeast Asians eat their sates medium to medium-well.) Serve with Singapore Cucumber Relish, if desired.


2 kirby (small) cucumbers or 1 medium cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
1 small shallot or green onion, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 small hot red chile (like a bird or cayenne pepper), seeded and minced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the cucumbers into 1/4-inch dice. Place the cucumbers, shallot, chile, vinegar, and sugar in a mixing bowl and gently toss to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Running Playlist Song of the Week
"Rollin' and Tumblin' by Bob Dylan

Raichlen is a huge Bob Dylan fan, and listens as he grills, and gets to every concert he can. A Dylan fan myself, I know the folkish sound isn't always good for popping out musically-inspired miles. A few are perfect. This rewrite of the late Westmont, Illinois bluesman, Muddy Waters' song tosses down a drive and rhythm that is best saved for the middle miles of a long run. For 6:02, Dylan sings about how low he feels:

"Well, I did all I know just to keep you off my mind
Well, I paid and I paid and my sufferin' heart is always on the line."

Writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. He looks to running as he battles midlife and his mid-section. Find out more:

For more about my running adventures, see A Runner’s Dilemma (workout details, videos and more):

The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through the Joy of Running

More About Steven Raichlen

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