Light my fire: Skye Gyngell reveals the secret of a perfect barbecue

Is there anything better than a relaxed barbecue on a hot summer's day? Skye Gyngell celebrates the smoky flavour that only an open fire can impart

Without wanting to sound too obvious, the summer months are the best of all for eating and cooking outside. Food cooked over an open fire has a different flavour altogether than food cooked on the stove or in the oven.

All manner of things can be cooked – not just sausages and burgers but all the lovely robust summer vegetables such as aubergines and red peppers. Little birds such as pigeon or quail work beautifully, as does butterflied leg of lamb and oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and red mullet. Cook them all simply, then make lovely sauces such as salsa verde or aioli to spoon over the top.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com

Quail with red cabbage salad

I'm very fond of quail. This dish is rich and deep in flavour yet still manages to remain clean and summery. You will need to start preparing a day ahead, as the quail needs to marinate overnight.

Serves 4

4 quail
1 litre/1¾ pints water
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
125g/4oz Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)

For the marinade

3 tbsp light soya sauce
3 tbsp dark soya sauce
1 tbsp hot bean sauce
1 tsp five-spice powder (try making your own: an equal mix of cinnamon, cloves, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel seeds and star anise roasted in the oven and pounded to a fine powder with a pestle and mortar)
4 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp fermented bean curd

For the salad

red cabbage, shredded
2 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
A small bunch of coriander, leaves only
2 limes, cut into wedges

Place the quail on a board. Cut each bird down the backbone and press flat with your hand to butterfly them. Bring the water to the boil and add the ginger and Chinese wine. Return to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the quail and simmer for a further 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and leave the quail to cool in the broth.

Meanwhile, make the marinade. Blend all of the ingredients together with 125ml/4fl oz of the quail broth. Remove the quail from the broth and rub with the marinade. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

The next day, half an hour before you are ready to start the barbecue, remove the quail from the fridge. When the barbecue is ready, drain the quail, reserving the excess marinade, and place it on the grill, skin-side down, for 2 minutes. Turn and grill for 30 seconds on the underside.

Toss the cabbage, shallots and coriander together and place on a plate. Lay the quail on top and spoon the reserved marinade over the top. Serve immediately.

Grilled sardines with tamarind, coriander, chilli and ginger

I adore sardines but they have to be spankingly fresh; their rich flesh lends itself to the clean Asian flavours.

Serves 4

8 very fresh sardines – ask your fishmonger to gut and scale them for you
A little vegetable oil for brushing

For the salad

A mixed handful of equal amounts of coriander leaves, sweet Thai basil leaves and mint leaves

1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1 banana shallot, peeled, finely sliced and fried in vegetable oil until really crisp
1 vine-ripened tomato, cut into wedges
1 tbsp shredded ginger

For the dressing

4 tbsp tamarind water
4 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp palm sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce

Start by making the dressing. Mix all the ingredients together and stir well to combine. Next, brush the fish generously with vegetable oil, but do not bother to season. Lay the fish on your barbecue and grill for 2 minutes on one side. Turn, and grill for another minute on the other side. Remove from the barbecue and set aside.

Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl and dress with two tablespoons of the dressing. Toss together lightly with your fingers. Lay half of the dressed salad on a plate and pile the sardines on top. Scatter over the remaining salad leaves and spoon over the rest of the dressing.

Mozzarella grilled between lemon leaves

I love to use lemon leaves in everything from slow-cooked dishes to marinades. Their clean, citrus flavour gives a fragrant note to dishes that is complex yet at the same time completely simple.

Serves 4

8 lemon leaves
25ml/1fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
2 very fresh buffalo mozzarella, torn in half
8 toothpicks or little twigs to secure the lemon leaves
A pinch of sea salt
A few grindings of black pepper

Lay four citrus leaves on your work surface, place the mozzarella in the centre of each leaf and season. Drizzle with just a little olive oil. Lay a leaf on top of each and secure both ends with a twig (or toothpick). Lay on the barbecue and grill for around 30 seconds. Turn gently and grill for another 30 seconds on the other side. Season to taste and serve.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Day In a Page

    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
    Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

    They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

    A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
    David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

    Hanging with the Hoff

    Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
    Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

    Hipsters of Arabia

    Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
    The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

    The cult of Roger Federer

    What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
    Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

    Malaysian munchies

    With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
    10 best festival beauty

    Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

    Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
    Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

    A Different League

    Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
    Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

    Steve Bunce on Boxing

    Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf