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Playing with Fire: Asian Spices on the Grill

Playing with Fire: Asian Spices on the Grill

Shrimp Pineapple KebabsAdmittedly, this is a controversial subject - fodder for decades of debates and generational disagreements - but it's a topic that all Southerners broach at one time or another: reworking the family recipes for barbecue sauce and grilling marinade.

Being in Texas, we do cherish each smoky whiff of hickory and chipotle, but sometimes you gotta change it up, you know? Otherwise, the bbq gets boring and the grilling... well, just... so... done. A dull cook is one sorry sight, as tragic as bland chili and flat beer.

Say it ain't so! No, this disaster doesn't have to happen. In fact, a friend of ours from out East (waaaaay East, the other side of the globe) inspired us to seek Asian seasonings and techniques for coaxing the best flavor combinations out of our tried-and-true grilling favorites. Nothing too weird: These spices simply put a different spin on things. Actually, they get the food sizzling before it even touches the grill.

Whip out your tongs & your marinating baggies, and let's go:

First, experiment with ginger-based dressings and/or soy sauce. They're amazing as marinades and dipping sauces, though you may want to opt for a low-sodium soy sauce and forego any added salt (soy sauce tends to be fairly salty on its own). Also, dressings that use Asian flavors are flexible, complementing a carnivorous mix of meats as easily as a veggie-friendly ensemble - and fruit, too: You'll love how ginger balances the tangy sweetness of pineapple, for instance.

Then try a touch of tandoori: The traditional Indian marinade of spices in plain yogurt will become one of your regular go-to techniques (yogurt makes one heckuva tenderizer). Although most Indians combine individual spices to make a specific curry, you'll find ready-made curry powders that flatter grilled chicken, seafood, onions and bell peppers with a flick of the ignition switch.

As long as you're at it, why not test a Chinese five-spice blend? Typically, the blend consists of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel, Szechuan pepper and/or ginger. Handle with care: This stuff isn't for bashful tastes or a heavy-handed cook. Just a pinch o' Chinese five spice, and <finger snap> everything's lookin' good.

Ready to play? Discover the selection of Asian dressings and seasonings at Fiesta.




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