There are many ways to cook fish in restaurants from the Bay of Plenty. You can boil it, steam it, poach it, fry it and whatnot. With all the cooking methods already available to man, you can have food any way you want. But one method of cooking remains a favourite among people: grilling.
Grilling is part of a larger method of cooking called convection. Going back to basics, cooking requires the transfer of heat into the food. Convection is one way of transferring heat through open air. The best way to illustrate this is meat roasting on an open fire. The fire does not make contact, but the ambient heat makes its way to the food and cooks it. This simple triumvirate of man, fire and food produces some of the best meals.
For the uninitiated wanting to explore this method of cooking, there are three ways to go about it.
For beginners, smoking can be a tough concept to grasp. But the gist of it is you burn flavoured wood chips. The fragrant smoke this burning fuel produces is then forced through a duct towards the food to be smoked. This 'cold smoke' imparts said flavour into the meat. Fuel can be charcoal or firewood.
Hickory, oak or guava wood gives the smoke great flavourful accents. Like roasting, smoking takes time, anywhere from eight hours to overnight. This amount of time allows the smoke to penetrate the meat and impart the flavour thoroughly. Most of the time, the smoked meat needs to be finished by grilling to ensure it is cooked through.
The most basic and easily recognisable of all, grilling involves setting up a metal grill above a fire. The food makes contact with the metal grill, which adds heat conduction to the mix, but the rest of the heat is transferred through convection. This method allows the food to cook slowly and thoroughly. Adding grill marks on the meat also imparts a charred flavour and good texture. If you fancy this method, it can be as simple as constructing a metal grill and setting it on a fire. You can also purchase commercial gas or charcoal grills for convenience.
Roasting relies solely on heat convection. It is grilling but with no contact with the grill. The meat is placed a small distance from the heat source. It can be hung, placed or impaled on a large skewer by a fire. As the food is not subject to direct heat, cooking time tends to be long. Depending on the size of the meat, the roasting process can take anywhere from an hour to three. The beauty of it is the 'low and slow' method that allows the meat to cook thoroughly and evenly, resulting in fall-of-the-bone tenderness. This is the primary principle behind roasting in an oven.
And there you have it. The three classic methods of cooking using fire.