Mark Bittman's Tips for Easy, Delicious Barbecue

Great Grilling Doesn't Require Lengthy Marinating

New York Times columnist and cookbook author Mark Bittman.

hide captionNew York Times columnist and cookbook author Mark Bittman.

Whether you cook with gas or swear by charcoal, nothing beats the simplicity of a smoky dinner right off the grill. NPR's Melissa Block talks with food writer Mark Bittman about the best grilling techniques. A news flash for a lot of backyard cooks, Bittman says there's no need to marinate meat or fish for hours before grilling.

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Bittman writes the weekly food column, "The Minimalist," in The New York Times and is author of the How to Cook Everything book series. He offers two recipes for summer grilling:

Grilled Swordfish or Tuna

Makes 4 servings

Time: 15 minutes, plus time to preheat the grill

2 (1-inch-thick) swordfish or tuna steaks

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges

1. Start a charcoal or wood fire or preheat a gas grill or broiler; the fire should be quite hot and the rack should be fairly close to the heat, 3 or 4 inches at most. While the fire is heating, combine the lemon juice and olive oil with some salt and pepper. Soak the fish in about half this mixture.

2. Grill the fish, brushing once or twice with the remaining oil-lemon mixture. After 4 minutes, the fish should be nicely browned; turn it. Three minutes later, check the fish for doneness by peeking between the layers of flesh with a thin-bladed knife. When the knife meets little resistance and just a touch of translucence remains, the swordfish is done. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges.

Unmarinated Flank Steak

Makes 4 servings

Time: 15 minutes, plus time to preheat the grill

4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon peeled and minced or grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 flank steak, 2 to 2 1/2 pounds

1. Combine all the seasonings in a shallow bowl or platter and let the steak soak in them while you start a charcoal or wood fire or preheat a gas grill or broiler; make it very hot.

2. Remove the meat from the liquid and dry well with paper towels. Grill or broil the steak about 4 inches from the heat source for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until nicely browned. Move the meat to a cooler part of the grill (or if broiling, lower the rack) and cook for another 2 minutes per side. Check for doneness by touch, or, preferably, with an instant-read thermometer (125 degrees Fahrenheit is about right for rare to medium-rare).

3. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into thin slices, across the grain, using a sharp carving knife.

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