Summer may be over by the calendar but here in Perth one can barbecue nearly all year around. Fall may be even better with the cooler evenings and less flies to enjoy al fresco dining. The aroma of a true charcoal grill or wood fired oven enhances both the flavours and experience.

I was rather aghast at the quality – or lack thereof of “the great Aussie BBQ.” A flat electric grill with meats braising in their own juices (read fat) without the sear and sizzle seemed slightly revolting. The idea of parks having free or low cost flat grills to picnic from is a nice idea but some of the emanating aromas repelled this roller skating bon vivant. Never had I tasted such a low-grade fatty sausage as the one served at Bunning’s. I thought I should try just part of one as a new citizen but I felt nauseous after one bite.

The separation of the genders at most backyard barbecues also seemed faintly archaic. I soon found “bringing a plate” meant not my own cutlery and dinner plate but a ‘covered dish’ which is a silly non-explanatory name too. A proper Weber was my answer and charcoal or heat beads as I learned the new terminology. Adding oak or grape vine cuttings for further aromatic essences didn’t seem to be done either. As a 1/16 Lummi Lummi Indian, we use to have potlatches in the great Northwest (Seattle) with salmon being barbecued or planked right on the alder wood. It was served on it as well for a rustic tasty finish.

Many less expensive cuts of meats may be used with a zippy marinade, sauce or glaze to tenderize and enhance the end result. Flat meats such as hanger steak, skirt steak or short ribs or bone in chicken or even turkey legs make for a lower cost alternative. The marinade should use an acid component, such as lemon, lime, vinegar and/or soy to break down the connective and collagenous tissues. The meats should marinate no less than an hour or no more than a day – especially if you are marinating fish, you may end up with ceviche if it goes for too long! You all know what that is, right?

Sauces for the barbeque are hotly competitive from each part of the country just like chilli contests. Some are sweeter but not as much as the sweet chilli sauce here that overwhelms and turns a perfectly nice dish into candied tooth-hurting food. Kansas City is famous for their barbeques but then so is Texas, New Orleans, New England, then too California and Florida, especially for their seafood. Each region uses their particular local and seasonal ingredients for a signature sauce.

For a low cal and fat option, the rubs make for a party in your mouth. I even tried a chilli dukkah on lamb and chicken and it was tasty as. Wet rubs are also used for flavour enhancement with usually an acid base liquid to tenderize and easily cover.

Finally, glazes on meats caramelise and finish the barbeque with both colour and flavour. A few of each of these options are listed below. Further not all of these need be used on meats alone. Grilled pineapple with a tequila glaze and other fruits may be barbequed. Tofu and seitan may indeed benefit by a sauce or glaze for the vegetarians.

The grill itself should be four inches from the heat and fish cooked in any manner should take ten minutes an inch, of thickness. You’ll have to be the one, this time, to change to centimetres.

Chili Maple Glaze

3 Tbsp pure maple syrup

1-2 Tbsp chipotle or red chilli flakes

Mix together in a small bowl.

Mango Mint Sauce

2 1/2kilo ripe mangos, peeled and seeded

2 cups fresh mint leaves\4 green onions, cut in 1-inch pieces

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 Serrano or red chiles, halved and seeded

Blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth. Transfer to small bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and chill. Can be made a day ahead.

Beer and Molasses Barbecue Sauce

1 ¼ cups bottled chilli sauce

3/4 cup mild molasses

¾ cup Little Creatures beer

2 Tbsp Dijon or seeded mustard

1-2 Tbsp chipotle chilli flakes or chilli powder

2 tsp Dr. Braggs, tamari or Shoyu sauce

2 tsp smoky devil sauce

Mix all ingredients in heavy bottomed medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, simmer until sauce thickens and is reduced to cups, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Cool completely before using. Can be made 1 week ahead, Cover and chill.

By Susanne Wilder