Dinner with Mei-Ling: The Do's and Don'ts of Grilling

By Mei-Ling Lam

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Our residential foodie playmate Mei-Ling Lam breaks down the do's and don'ts of firing up the grill.


‘Tis the season to fire up your grill! My favorite time of the year is summer mainly because of the incredible weather and the delicious food that comes along with it! You just can't beat the feeling of enjoying a big, thick, juicy steak, a pile of grilled veggies, and an ice cold beer out in the sun. I love going to cookouts with my friends, but one thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of people only know how to cook a steak one of two ways, rare or well done. So this week I have taken it upon myself to let all of the grilling virgins in on the Do's and Don'ts of grilling.

Grilling Do’s

Shake it up with seasoning. Whether you load your grill with garlic, juice your cuts up with fresh lemon or douse your steak with chilies, seasoning is always important. Don't be afraid of using bold flavors like cumin or jerk seasoning, grilled foods can handle it.

Always remember to do’s is prepping the grill. Before throwing my steak on the grill I always make sure that the grill is hot, clean, and lubricated! (Not that kind of lubrication guys!) Begin and finish with cleaning your grill with a stiff wire brush. After that, lube the grate by rubbing a cloth dipped in vegetable oil over it with a pair of thongs. If you follow these rules, you will get those sexy grill marks that make you look like a pro!

Safety first, you’re literally playing with fire! Don't underestimate the amount of work space you need to grill. Be aware of what is around you and always have a fire extinguisher handy.

If you are a big fan of using charcoal, set up zones on your grill. One for foods that would need direct heat like a burger and the other for sides that would need indirect heat like the buns. Sectioning off your grill like this will allow you to almost always produce a perfect burger!

Have fun with your meat! And I do mean this in the cleanest way possible. My friend, Brianna Jenkins from the reality show Food Network Star, introduced me to personalized branding irons. How fun is that? Let everyone know who is cooking their meat by branding it with your own initials.

Grilling Don’ts

Never use a water bottle to get rid of flare ups! When you throw water on the grill, it creates ash. You can't get rid of the flare ups, but you can prevent charring by moving your food over the indirect heating zone until the flames go down.

Another no-no is cutting into your meat to check if it is done. When you do this, you’re letting all those yummy juices drip out of the steak which ends up drying it out. A good rule of thumb when checking is to touch your meat. Prime Cuts gives you a visual for the perfectly cooked meat here: Finger Test

If you’re working with charcoal, it’s not a good idea to cover the grill when cooking. When fat drips on the charcoal, it creates a bad smoke taste that will seep into the food if you have your BBQ covered up. If your flame does flare up, just move your meat to the indirect heating zone of the grill till the flame goes down. It’s also good to remember to keep the cover off so you can keep an eye on your food.

And never ever stress out over grilling! Enjoy an ice cold beer (not too many until you're done cooking), your guests, and of course the food! If there’s one thing Brianna and I agree on, it’s there isn't anything sexier than a man keeping his cool while he’s working the grill. Happy grilling!   


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