Monday, June 6, 2011

Home Grillin': Rosemary Ahi Tuna Kabobs & Charred Corn Cobs

Grill at home without a barbecue! All you need is a grilled skillet you can put on the stove, or even an electrical sandwich maker with ridges. This is where your George Foreman comes in handy; you will become a grillin' machine.  On the grill today: colorful tuna kabobs and corn on the cob. (Not on the grill but still tasty to serve as sides: fava bean salad, cranberry-curry cous cous, and homemade tzatziki sauce. Check back for these recipes to post to accompany this, or any, meal. Don't miss them!)

I had never made kabobs before so this novice had to actually go out and purchase skewers. The disposal wooden ones would suffice, as my investment in real ones would be contingent upon this first trial. It would either traumatize me into never skewering again, or make me kabob crazed. Let's just say after this dinner, I was seriously considering buying a real grill. (Having no outdoor space to put it didn't seem to faze me in the least.) It turned out that I had to do these kabobs on my electric grill because (brilliantly) I hadn't measured the length of the skewers before assembling them all. It was only after they were prepped and ready that I realized my cast-iron grill pan was not one-size-fits-all. But have no fear, as the electrical appliance fared well for my fish on a stick.

Rosemary Ahi Tuna Kabobs 

 (feeds 3-4)
  • Skewers, 2-3 per person
  • Ahi tuna steaks, 2 lbs
  • Brussels sprouts (fresh or thawed), 1 lb
  • Tomato (sliced into chunks, or cherry/grape tomatoes)
  • Mushrooms
  • Fresh mint (optional)
Marinade for the tuna:
  • Dried rosemary
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder
Marinate your tuna no longer than an hour before you are ready to skew. Cut the fish, mushrooms and tomatoes into same-sized chunks, about the size of your Brussels sprouts. This way, everything will cook evenly. Now you are ready to assemble.

The length of my sticks allowed for two pieces of each element. This of course will vary depending on your size ratio of skewer to ingredients. And the fun part about kabobing is you can combine as many items as you want, as long as they can handle being poked and pressed.

Once I had all my colorful skewers in a row, I threw them onto the grill press and covered them. Presto! Listo! They only needed about 5 minutes before they were cooked. The only down side about using the electrical grill is that you can't do much to control the heat, so mine were not branded with those gorgeous charred grill marks. If your skewers do fit in your stove-top grill pan (jealous me), make sure you coat it with non-stick spray because the tuna will stick! You also have the luxury of turning that fiery flame to high so that the tuna gets a lovely sear on the outside while remaining preciously pink on the inside. And when the accompanying veggies feel the heat, they will acquire a robust flavor you never thought they could possess. This is certainly a way to get someone to eat their Brussels sprouts.

When the skewers are still hot off the press, give them a fresh squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of chopped fresh mint. My guests (and yours) would have never guessed how easy it was to prepare these pretty little sticks packed with punch!

Charred Corn Cobs with Paprika & Feta
You will love this Mexico-meets-Mediterranean-inspired grilled corn. These did fit on my cast-iron grill and the result was the charred success that spoke of the street fair roasted corn of my childhood. But this one is a bit gussied up! All you need is:
  • Corn cobs, no husk
  • Lime
  • Feta cheese
  • Fresh mint
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cumin
I have a trick for stove-top grilled corn so that they will blacken on the outside and still remain moist with each kernel cooked to plump perfection. The key is to set your heat to medium and cover the corn with a lid (as seen in the photo).  This way they steam and grill at the same time. A double duty tip!

When you see that it is blackening, remove the lid to rotate the corn so that no side is deprived of the grill treatment, and replace the lid. This process should take no more than 20-30 minutes.
How do you know when you are done? When the corn is all roasty toasty and looks like the below photo. 

The final touches of spices dress this corn cob up.  Once you have removed them from the heat, let them cool only a bit. You still want them warm to soak up all the seasoning. First, rub them with fresh lime wedges, not missing a crevice as to allow for optimal spice-stickage. Then sprinkle and rub into all sides the paprika, cumin, garlic powder and cayenne pepper - yes, you must get your hands dirty. Lastly, crumble atop feta cheese and chopped mint. Once you sink your teeth into these kernels, your mouth will pop with international flavors. Who would have thought you would be able to savor Mexico and the Mediterranean all in one bite?

These two recipes are great fire starters: deliciously simple in the guise of impressively fancy and your grill does all the work for you! Bobby Flay, let me ask you this: Are you ready for a throw-down?