And it's not even a little fancy. 

Maria Yagoda
July 26, 2018

With grilling season in full swing, it's easy to covet all those expensive, high-tech tools you can now buy to make grilling easier—NASA-grade thermometers, futuristic grills, and complicated prodding devices. And yet, according to Man Fire Food's chef Roger Mooking, the most important tool is actually quite simple, and intuitive: very long tongs. 

"A long pair of tongs is so important," says Mooking. "I go to my friend's house, and they have these little short tongs. If you’re reaching across the grill, your hand is over the fire. They’re always too hot. Just get a long pair of tongs."

The Canadian celebrity chef, who's had a lifelong love affair with cooking over fire, is always experimenting with technique (and long tongs remain essential, no matter how he's cooking.) This summer, he's gotten into cooking directly on the coals of his grill.

If he's doing a "lean protein day," for example, he'll slice chicken breasts off the bone and cut each breast on a deep bias into three pieces—"sort of hockey puck size pieces that are half-an-inch thick," he says. He'll marinate the pieces over night in spices and aromatics, and then re-seasons the chicken before grilling. 

"I'll get the coals glowing hot, and I'll blow off the ash and put it directly on the coals," Mooking says. "It feels so fun and primal. If the chicken is cut in those little slivers, it cooks in two three minutes."

One of Mookings favorite ways to season meat? Grinding up papaya seeds. (So promise us you'll never throw them out ever again.)

"I'll wash papaya seeds and dry them out," he told Food & Wine. "Once they’re nice and dry, they become just like peppercorns—like aromatic, spicy peppercorns. Put them on a paper towel on a tray." Once they're dry, you can grind them and mix with cayenne, sea salt, garlic powder, and just about anything you want for a fragrant spice rub."

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