After a trying winter, full of slushy streets, grey skies and polar vortexes, it’s only natural that people would look ahead to the spring as a beacon of hope.
Every year, around this time, people start reacquainting themselves with the outdoors, waking up from their months-long hibernation to once again smell the flowers and bask in the sunshine.
And nothing signals warm weather quite like an outdoor cookout. As the weather warms, the produce available becomes more vibrant and delicate, and certain meats reach their peak. It’s the perfect time, in other words, to roll out the BBQ, brush the grates and fire up a chimney of charcoal.
To help you make the most out of the year’s first outdoor cooks, here are three spring grill dishes that are as bright and comforting as the season!
Thai Gai Yang
There’s a reason it’s called a “spring chicken”. Spring is egg-laying season, which means throughout the spring season, and into summer, broiler chickens are young and in abundance. For a chicken dish a little out of the ordinary, try Thai “Gai Yang” – which simply means, “grilled chicken”. Where this Thai and Lao dish gets its uniqueness, though, is in the marinade: fish sauce, sugar, white pepper, pounded garlic and cilantro roots.
The whole chicken is then grilled over mild charcoals (or on the cool side of a two-zone fire). Many Thai chefs add black soy sauce (or dark soy) to give the finished dish a tawny color, and some add lemongrass to the marinade for a citrusy note.
King Salmon with Fiddleheads
King salmon – also called Spring Salmon by some – starts its first run in May. Fiddleheads appear around the same time. Add the two together on the grill, and you get a light, earthy and healthy spring dish. Some recommend blanching the fiddleheads prior to hitting the grill, in order to avoid food poisoning. As for the King Salmon, it’s best grilled simply with salt and pepper, after which a vinaigrette or chimichurri can be added for acidity and levity.
If you want further inspiration for King Salmon, check out SARA Restaurant in Toronto to find out what one of North America’s hottest grills does with the in-season fish (spoiler: they pair it with sweet chili and wild rice).
Asparagus and Citrus
Pare back the spring season to its bare essentials and you get a dish like asparagus and citrus. Asparagus’ tender shoots are harvested in early spring, when their slightly sweet, vegetal notes reach a peak. Lemon is best friends with asparagus, and becomes even sweeter and punchier when you throw it on the grill.
Serve the two together for a simple dish, or wrap the asparagus in prosciutto before they hit the grill. Or, if you want to add a little decadence, whip up this immersion blender Hollandaise in just one minute, adding some of the charred citrus juice, and drape it over the asparagus.
Winter is on its way out, which means it’s time to swap the Dutch oven for a fiery grill. Try these three quintessential spring dishes and start celebrating the end of a cold winter.