Grilling season is upon us and once dinner time rolls around, the air gets thick with the smell of barbecue. Canada's obsession with barbecuing continues to grow, Weber's annual survey on Canadian barbecue trends reports that 79% of Canadians prefer to cook outdoors in the summer rather than indoors and that 88% of Canadians use their barbecues at least once a week. These upward trends are hardly surprising, cooking outdoors is a great way to get fresh air, socialize and prepare classic summer meals. Barbecue culture is hardly synonymous with Canadian or even North American food culture; in fact, this method of cooking has long been used in countries all over the world as both a means of necessity and for culinary enjoyment. This year, look beyond the traditional hamburgers and hot dogs and cook up something with a little more global flair.
General tips to keep it healthy and delicious
Barbecuing as a cooking method is inherently complementary to making healthy and highly flavourful meals. Spice rubs, sauces and marinades generally have low SmartPoints values, just keep an eye out for those containing excess oil and sugar. Your choice of barbecue ingredients will ultimately determine how calorific the meal is so try opting for lean meats, poultry and fish whenever possible. Try skewering fruits and vegetables and grilling alongside the meat for tempting and nutritious sides. Some delicious options include peaches, romaine lettuce, pineapple, sweet potato slices and corn on the cob.
Going to a Korean barbecue restaurant is an unforgettable experience; you get to do the cooking right at your table! Each table has its own sunken gas or charcoal grill where diners can cook their own meat or seafood. Typically, the meat is marinated in a soy and brown sugar sauce and then sliced thinly to ensure fast and even cooking. Thinly sliced beef (or Bulgogi, its Korean name), boneless ribs, pork, lamb, chicken, fish and tiny squid are Korean barbecue mainstays, as well as assorted vegetables. When sticking to healthy portion sizes Korean barbecue can easily fit into your daily SmartPoints allowance, try Korean seaweed salad or kimchi as hugely flavourful accompaniments and be wary of side dishes like deep fried tempura.
Jamaican jerk barbecue
Jamaican jerk barbecue refers to the spice mixture used to season the meat before grilling. Jerk spice begins with allspice and fiery Scotch bonnet peppers and can go on to include ginger, nutmeg, brown sugar and cinnamon among others. Jerk spice is used alone as a dry rub or can be made into a wet marinade, or jerk sauce, as it's commonly known. Jerk seasoning has historically been used for barbecuing chicken or pork, but it is now regularly used to flavour many different meats and even seafood. Jamaican jerk spice adds an instant hit of intense heat to any barbecue and has very little if any impact on your daily SmartPoints budget depending on if you're using a dry rub or a wet marinade. Traditional healthy Jamaican sides can include fresh pineapple, rice and beans as well as dark leafy greens. Stick to leaner cuts of meat or poultry and be mindful of traditional Jamaican barbecue accompaniments such as fried cassava and fried Johnny cakes to make jerk barbecue a part of your summer meal repertoire.
If you've ever been to a Hawaiian luau you know how unforgettable a Kālua barbecue is. This type of barbecuing is a bit more involved, and requires a team effort to get all of the elements in place. At a Kālua barbecue the meat is essentially buried in a large pit filled with very hot rocks. The salted meat is wrapped in banana leaves, wrapped in wet burlap, buried and then left to cook for anywhere between 6 to 8 hours. This is where the magic happens, as the meat is slowly cooking it becomes incredibly tender and absorbs all of the smoky flavour, giving it a truly unique taste unlike any other. Kālua barbecue can be loosely replicated in a smoker, but Kālua barbecues are a perfect excuse for throwing a party for trying this cooking method. You'll need several people willing to dig a pit and a whole lot of meat to go with it. In Hawaii, an entire pig is barbecued to feed a large crowd. Serve with rolls and plenty of fresh tropical fruit, either raw or grilled on skewers, as a healthy side dish.