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Three fire-loving chefs show us their smartest tricks for grilling—all gratifyingly low-tech.
Beef Flavor Boost
Bryant Ng, chef at the Spice Table in Los Angeles, is an umami master. He often rubs steaks and burgers with Southeast Asian fermented shrimp paste before grilling. The cooked meat doesn’t smell or taste fishy at all—just incredibly rich and savory.
Ng won’t grill without an old-fashioned bamboo fan, using it like a bellows to intensify the fire’s heat. Not only are foods less likely to stick to an ultra-hot grate, but thin skewered cuts brown on the outside quickly without overcooking and drying out within.
The Pause Break
Adam Perry Lang, founder of Daisy May’s BBQ USA in NYC, takes larger cuts, like double-cut pork chops, off the grill about halfway through cooking. He lets the meat rest for several minutes—allowing it to evenly cook throughout—before finishing on the grill.
Sounds sooty but it isn’t: Lang throws steaks, lamb chops and skin-on boneless chicken breasts directly on hardwood embers—no grate necessary. The red-hot embers perfectly brown the meat, forming a delicious crust.
Bryan Voltaggio, chef at Volt in Frederick, Maryland, prevents fish from falling apart on the grate with this clever move: He soaks the raw fish for 10 minutes in brine. Use 1 tablespoon fine sea salt per 4 cups cold water; pat fish dry before grilling.
Char In A Bottle
Voltaggio grills leeks until they’re thoroughly blackened. Then he grinds them, steeps the powdered leek ash in oil overnight and strains. The charred-leek oil develops a complexity that can give any food a fantastic fire-roasted flavor.