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Ben O’Donoghue’s BBQ Tips

TV chef and author Ben O'Donoghue shares his top BBQ secrets, from preparation to condiments and a crowd-winning BBQ dessert.

Ben O’Donoghue’s BBQ Tips

What is it about the BBQ that appeals to you so much?

I love that you can BBQ just about anywhere from restaurants, to parks, back yards on beaches and street corners. And it always lends such a wonderful flavour to food. It’s always a social occasion and it crosses all social and economic barriers.

Can you share a summer seafood BBQ secret?

My miso-blackened fish fillets. The secret is in the classic Japanese miso marinade (white miso paste, mirin and caster sugar), which is more like a cure, as the salt and sugar work together to draw the moisture out of the fish. This helps to improve the texture of flaky fish and give it a beautiful flavour.

How do you suggest preparing meat for BBQing?

Let the butcher do the hard work for you and ask them to trim up your meat so it’s ready for you. Choosing the right cut is all important when you’re cooking steaks so choose tender cuts like; sirloin, porterhouse, t-bone, rump or fillet. These cuts all work well as they have a broad surface area that takes advantage of the charred flavour from a high heat barbeque.  Let your steaks return to room temperature before cooking as you will lose less moisture from your meat. Don’t forget to season your steaks just prior to barbecuing – use coarsely ground rock salt or quality crystal salt and freshly ground pepper, or you can use spices.

What are the essential BBQ tools no cook can go without?

Enough fuel, lightweight long-handled tongs, a roasting fork for turning large joints of meat and lifting delicate fish fillets, a long-handled spatula with a cutting edge, plenty of paper towels! Oh and a drink – otherwise it’s a job!

Must-have BBQ condiments?

There are too many to mention but some of my favourites are my basic barbeque sauce that can be used as sauce as well as a glaze. It’s rich and delicious with sherry vinegar, dark sugar and cinnamon, cumin and chillies. I also love a good satay sauce – the staple of many South East Asian countries, from Malaysia to Thailand. I also like this great variation of the old favourite tomato sauce  – an orange and ginger ketchup  – where the zest and juice of an orange, ginger and sesame oil is added to tomato sauce. Great with scallops and prawns. 

Name a quick BBQ recipe that is bound to impress guests.

When you’re pulling out all stops you can’t beat my Mexican suckling pig tortillas.  You have to get organised for this one and you’ll need a large BBQ, but it will have your friends and family talking about it for years to come.

And a dessert?

For dessert, my Mixed-berry meringue Swiss Roll is simple to prepare and delicious. Works best on a gas BBQ.

Ben’s BBQ Bible: The Ultimate Cook’s Companion by Ben O’Donoghue is out now through Hardie Grant.

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