The basics for barbecuing at the beach

Torus Tammer

Sunset at Bolsa Chica State Beach is the perfect time to have a mellow

night enjoying good company and the spoils of a well-planned cookout.

Fire rings supply an ultimate scene for barbecuing, relaxing and watching

the sun call it a day. In order to make things easier, we have compiled

some helpful advice and suggestions from some top chefs in town.

Before you plan your beach barbecue, there some basic rules to be aware

of. The fire rings at Bolsa Chica are accessible to the public from 6 a.m

through 10 p.m., though the gates close at 9 p.m. Parking fees are $6 per

car. Alcohol and glass bottles are not permitted on the beach.

Fire pit availability is handled on a first come, first served basis. The

best times to stake out a pit depend on what day it is, said Joe

Milligan, an official at the state beach. On the weekends, you need to

make your claim around 10 a.m. About 1 p.m. is considered early enough on


Of course, holidays are always busiest, so be prepared.

Perhaps the most important rule deals with safety. All fires must be

maintained within the rings. It is important to let the coals burn out on

their own without burying them in the sand, Milligan said. Burying coal

causes the temperature of the sand to rise several hundred degrees.

You can use lighter fluid to start your fire. However, only clean-burning

wood and or charcoal are allowed to keep the fire going. You need to

bring a barbecue screen in order to grill food.

Dinner at the fire pits does not have to be the regulation hot dog or

hamburger, said Chris Pionessa, head chef at Chicago Grill in Sunset


To complement the beach environment and match the evening ambience,

Pionessa recommends beginning with Hawaiian prawns barbecued Cajun-style.

You can get your butcher or deli to clean them for you. From there, all

you need is some butter and Cajun spices. Slather them on, barbecue for a

few minutes and voila -- a treat for the taste buds.

Chef Jonathan Leibel at Dukes in Huntington Beach suggests a simple


Fill a pot with white wine and some water. Add whole garlic cloves,

peppercorns and salt to taste. Bring it to a boil and add clams. Cook for

five minutes and then strain using your barbecue screen.

Leibel said the seafood delight can be made using lobsters, crab or a

melange of seafood and crustaceans.

You can stay on the seafood motif with a simple barbecued rock cod or

butter perch, Pionessa said.

After you purchase your fish cleaned, just rub it down with some

extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and chili pepper -- or the spice of

your choice. Throw it on the grill for a few minutes on each side, and

you're done.

Carnivores can feast on delicious baby back ribs. The secret, said

Pionessa, is in the preparation. Before you go to the beach, boil the

ribs for about 11 minutes. This gently cooks the meat to the bone and

burns some of the fat off. After you're done boiling, add spices per your

liking -- you can use a basic steak seasoning -- and wrap it tightly in


At the beach, put the foil-wrapped package on the barbecue for 10

minutes. When done, unwrap and add the desired barbecue sauce.

For a compatible side dish, Pionessa suggests barbecued vegetables --

zucchini, carrot or yellow squash. This is best preprepared at home by

splitting the veggies on the bias, brushing them with olive oil, salt and

pepper, then putting them in the oven on 400 degrees for about eight


At the beach, sprinkle some paprika for color and throw them onto your

hot grill for a minute per side, Pionessa said.

What you need to keep in mind for beach barbecuing is simplicity. You

don't have a sink or access to the the things you would have in your

kitchen, so remember to bring the minimal utensils needed -- including

the barbecue screen and a cooler containing the fixings of your meal.

Bon appetit.

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