Books for Cooks

Barbara Burke

Wednesday, July 2, 2003

"Steven Raichlen's BBQ USA
By Steven Raichlen
(Workman, 2003, paperback, $19.95)
StarStarStar 1/2

Huli-huli chicken praised
in book on BBQ in the USA

'Have tongs, will travel!" is his motto. Grilling guru Steven Raichlen logged tens of thousands of miles across the country to research his newest cookbook, "BBQ USA." This 750-page guide to barbecuing has something for everyone, including 425 recipes from all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Raichlen offers a wide assortment of dishes, including appetizers such as Barbecued Peanuts and Pineapple Rumaki, sides such as Louisiana's Cajun Grilled Asparagus and Grilled Pitas with Sesame Seeds and Cracked Pepper, and unusual desserts, including Grilled Banana Cream Pie and Smoked Alaska.

As you would expect, a substantial part of the cookbook is devoted to main-course recipes centered on beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, shellfish, burgers, hot dogs and sausages. You'll find classic recipes for barbecue favorites such as pulled pork and brisket, as well as off-the-wall titles like Brant's Brined Beer Butt Bird from Alabama. There's even a recipe for huli huli chicken that Raichlen calls "Hawaii's most significant contribution to American barbecue."

For the vegetarians among us, Raichlen offers meatless meals such as Ginger Grilled Tofu "Steaks" with Miso Mayo and Flame-Wilted Spinach. Nearly 50 kinds of barbecue sauces are offered, including a guava-inspired recipe.

Like all the books in Raichlen's "Barbecue! Bible" series, "BBQ USA" inlcudes tips, tested techniques and informative sidebars.

There are 650 photographs, mostly black-and-white location shots. They offer a wonderful glimpse of Americana, but leave the book lacking in recipe and presentation visual aids. The book also includes a history of barbecue in the United States, mail-order sources, an extensive index and a bibliography.

Poke in a bun? Try this ahi alternative to the hamburger.

Poke Burgers

1 1/2 pounds super-fresh ahi
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, plus more for your hands and for brushing the buns
4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
4 teaspoons soy sauce, or more to taste
2 scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and finely chopped
1 Thai or Serrano chile pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup limu kohu (ogo seaweed)
4 hamburger buns

Finely chop tuna by hand (you'll get the best consistency this way) or in a food processor. If using a food processor, cut into 1/2-inch chunks, don't fill the processor more than a quarter full and use short pulses. Place chopped tuna in a mixing bowl and stir in sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce, scallions, chile and pepper.

Taste, adding more soy sauce as necessary.

Oil hands with a little sesame oil. Divide tuna mixture into 4 equal portions and shape into hamburger-like patties.

Set up the grill (gas or charcoal) for direct grilling and preheat to high.

When ready to cook, brush and oil grate. Place tuna burgers on hot grate and grill until cooked to taste, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until the burgers are cooked at the edges but still pink in the center when tested with the tip of a knife. (Unlike hamburgers, it's safe to serve tuna burgers medium-rare.) Lightly brush buns with sesame oil, if desired, and toast on the grill, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information per serving: 380 calories, 12 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 42 g protein, 24 g carbohydrate, 620 mg sodium.

Rating Scale: StarStarStarStar Best in its class / StarStarStar Highly recommended / StarStar Recommended / Star Not recommended

Barbara Burke is a Hawaii-Pacific University instructor who teaches and writes about food and nutrition. Contact her at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail her at:

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