Conveniently, Varallo serves many grilled fish dishes, so he also passed along a recipe for marinating and grilling fish.
His secret is to marinate the fish only briefly - maybe about 10 minutes - and to sear in on a very hot, dry surface, like a cast-iron skillet, before finishing the cooking on a gas grill.
(To watch Varallo in action, visit the Daily News Web site at Philly Online, www.phillynews.com. Click on the Web Video section and follow the directions for downloading a video segment.)
MARINATED CARROTS FROM IO E TU
1 pound carrots, peeled and trimmed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 or 2 teaspoons crumbled oregano leaves (preferably Greek oregano on the stalk)
2 teaspoons salt
1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the whole carrots, bring back to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until no longer hot. Chop the carrots into rough chunks and reserve.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and salt. Add the garlic and carrots to the bowl. Marinate, refrigerated for 2 to 3 days before draining and serving.
Serves 8 to 10 as an hors d'oeuvre (bocconcino in Italian).
MOIST GRILLED FISH
1 pound firm fish - good choices would be swordfish, tuna, mahi-mahi, monkfish or a combination
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Several sprigs of fresh thyme, sage, rosemary, parsley or rosemary, or a bay leaf
Prepare the marinade by mixing everything but the fish.
Preheat your gas grill. Also preheat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet until it is smoking hot. (This can be done right on top of the grill).
Marinate the fish for 10 minutes, then drain the fish and sear it for 2 to 3 minutes on each side in the skillet.
Remove from skillet and finish on the grill, cooking only until barely cooked through.
The fish should be no more than medium inside. Cooking it too long will result in dry fish.
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