I use the grill element of my oven a lot, not just to brown the surface of foods that I’ve baked in the oven (such as gratins and fruit tarts), but also to quickly cook dishes. Because the heat is concentrated and intense, you have to watch the food carefully, to make sure it’s not browning too fast; if it is, move the pan further from the grill.
Grilled razor clams with uni and karasumi
This easy recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prepare from start to finish. It’s also quite luxurious because of the uni, and can get even more extravagant, depending on how much of it you use, and the quality. (If money is no object, add small blobs of sturgeon caviar.) One small box of uni is just enough for about four people, but of course, you can use more.
Karasumi is Japanese dried fish roe. Most of the fish roe you’ll find at Japanese shops is actually from Taiwan (where it’s called wuyuzi); you can also use Italian bottarga.
12 razor clams, about 12cm in length
30 grams unsalted butter, or more if needed
About 30ml fish sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
One small box of uni
Micro greens, such as small shiso leaves, nasturtium leaves or cress
Run a sharp paring knife between the clam and the shell, to detach the meat. Briefly rinse the clam meat under cool, running water, and squeeze out and discard the contents of the stomach (the dark part). Blot the clam meat with paper towels. Break the shells in half at the hinge and select the prettier halves for serving. Dry the shells with paper towels, then place them cup side-up on a pan that holds them in one layer. Lay the clam meat back in the shells (if you like, cut the clam meat into bite-size pieces).
Melt the butter. Very lightly brush the fish sauce over the clam meat, then drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
Heat the grill to high. When it’s very hot, slide the pan holding the clams under the grill, about 2cm away from the heat element. Cook for about a minute, or until the clam meats starts to curl; do not overcook, or the clams will be tough.
Place the clams on four plates. Arrange the uni pieces on the clams. Use a fine-tooth rasp-type grater to shave the karasumi/wuyuzi/bottarga over the clams. Garnish with micro-greens and serve immediately.
Grilled fish with garlic, tomatoes and olives
If you’re serving people with hearty appetites, it’s better to cook extra portions of fish (and increase the other ingredients proportionately), instead of using larger fillets. If the fillets are too big, it will throw off the cooking time.
4 skin-on fish fillets, about 250 grams each and about 1.5cm in thickness
About 50 grams of unsalted butter, slightly softened
2-3 garlic cloves
20 cherry tomatoes (I use oval or pear-shaped local tomatoes)
20 black olives, such as kalamata or Nicoise
1 small thyme sprig
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rub a baking dish with some of the butter. Thoroughly blot the fish fillets (fleshy side and skin) with paper towels. Put the fillets skin side-down in the baking dish and sprinkle lightly with salt. Turn the fillets over so the skin side is up and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Slice the garlic cloves and scatter the pieces over and around the fish. Cut the tomatoes in half and place them and the olives around the fish in the baking dish. Break the thyme sprig into smaller pieces and place them over and around the fish. Slice the lemon into four wedges and place them in the baking dish. Cut the remaining butter into small pieces and dot them over and around the fish.
Heat the grill to high. When the grill is hot, slide the baking dish into the oven, about 6cm away from the heat element. Grill the fillets for about seven minutes, or until the skin is crisp and the fish is cooked. If the fish skin is browning too quickly, move the oven rack to about 8cm (or more) away from the heat. When the fish is cooked, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper then place the fillets on four serving plates. Add a lemon wedge to each portion, and spoon the buttery juices, tomatoes and olives over the fish.