Tips for the Barbecue Season

Summer is definitely here. The hot weather can make cooking a chore and it’s nice to be able to grill your meal outdoors. Unfortunately many “barbeque” foods like sausages, hot dogs, and prepared burgers are loaded with salt. It’s best to use fresh, unprocessed meats as the basis for your meal. Rubs or marinades without salt are great to add flavour: try freezing your meat in your favourite marinade and it will be ready to grill as soon as it thaws.

Many condiments also come loaded with salt and should be used very sparingly. Most of us don’t pay attention to our serving sizes of condiments and the sodium can really sneak up on you. The numbers below are an average of what’s available at your grocery stores and you can find a huge variation in sodium content from product to product. Compare:

2tbsp Ketchup    =   338mg sodium
2tbsp BBQ sauce   =   260mg sodium
2tbsp steak sauce  =   435mg sodium
2tbsp Asian Eggplant Dip = 50mg sodium

Try making a great sauce or dip, like the eggplant dip below that makes a fresh and fantastic alternative to salty barbeque sauces. It’s also great with crusty bread or as a sandwich spread.

Asian Eggplant Dip with Seared Peppercorn Steak

Steak Marinade
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp cracked black peppercorns
1 tsp olive oil
2 lb sirloin steak

In a small bowl, combine marinade ingredients. Pat steak dry, brush with oil and rub with mixture. Marinate for minimum one hour. Grill to desired doneness.

Asian Eggplant Dip (makes approximately 1.5 cups)
1 large eggplant
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger root
4 green onions, chopped
1 tsp chili paste
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Roast eggplant in preheated 425°F oven for approximately 45 minutes. Peel eggplant and chop finely. In a small bowl combine sugar, vinegar, and water. In a large skillet, sauté garlic, ginger, green onions and chili paste until fragrant. Add vinegar mixture. When bubbling, add eggplant. Stir to combine. Remove from heat and add sesame oil. Serve cold or at room temperature along with grilled steak.
Recipes developed by Chef Leslie Cairns

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