MBQ&A: Grilling Fish, Smoking Drinks, and Mourning the Gravediggaz

MBQ&A: Grilling Fish, Smoking Drinks, and Mourning the Gravediggaz

Welcome back to MBQ&A, where ManBQue experts tackle your questions on meat, beer, and rock n’ roll.

“I tried to grill some fish filets the other day, but they disintegrated into the grill and I had to fill up on Doritos. How can I avoid another DoritoMeal?”

Luke Gelman: Fish seems harder than it really is on the grill. Here’s my simple strategy for perfect fish on the grill. First get your grill ripping hot. Before you put your fish on oil the grate well and immediately (after any potential flare ups) put the fish on the grill. Watch it and when it starts turning white on the sides and is looking 3/4 cooked flip it and give it another 2 or so minutes on the other side. If the fish releases from the grill easily it’s ready to be flipped and remember, only flip it once. After those two minutes pull it, it’s done. Also meatier and heartier fish is easier to cook. Good luck.

John Carruthers: All good advice. Something else I’ll offer – if you’ve gone and bought the dozen frozen fish filets for $3.99 at the local market, there’s a good chance it’s just crappy product. I’m not saying you should plunk down a paycheck for some “ethical” fresh-flown fish at one of those grocery stores where everyone you see is carrying a yoga mat. But I will say maybe check out Hagen’s on Montrose, Wellfleet on Elston, or New England Seafood on Lincoln instead of buying the greatest quantity of brick-hard flash frozen stuff that you can. Don’t make cooking hard on yourself with really bad ingredients.

(Also: nothing wrong with a meal made entirely of Doritos. Add a 24 oz can of Modelo and that’s a fine dinner for a Metra commuter.)

“I’ve seen the word ‘smoked’ in both beer and cocktails all over lately. How the hell do you smoke a liquid? Am I missing something?”

John Scholl: I can’t speak for cocktails, but smoked beer is usually made with smoked grain. The process is much like you would smoke food with woods such as cherry, apple, almond, oak, etc. Easy, right?

John C.: Smoke is indeed water-soluble. It’s part of the reason why you want to keep your smoked meats moist. In fact, liquid smoke, which everyone I know seems to think comes from the same unholy Science has squeeze cheese and truffle-less truffle oil, is just cooled, condensed smoke. So … you know, smoke and water. The nitrogen dioxide formed when wood burns in a smoker seeps into the meat and creates the pink smoke ring that helps you tell real barbecue from steamed or boiled oven ribs (which always seem to call themselves “famous” or “world’s best,” or something).

Anyway, I use that information you didn’t ask for to get to my point: in addition to the smoked grains that Scholl’s talking about, you can also smoke the liquids or components thereof. Charred citrus is a popular ingredient in craft cocktails. There’s also a machine (I have one made by PolyScience) that burns tiny hardwood chips in a chamber and uses a motor to pull the smoke through a tube to expel into the vessel of your choice. So pour cocktail, insert smoke tube, light, and smoke your Old Fashioned. Never give it more than 20-30 seconds at the high end. Smoke is quite … smoky. And if a certain donut-based beer I once tried taught me anything, it’s that too much smoke is not a good thing in a beverage.

“What band or artist wasted their potential more than anyone else?”

John C: I’d like to make some clever reference to how John Mayer can actually play the guitar but instead spends his time creating shopping mall music. But I’d instead like to point out how much I loved Jurassic 5, an L.A. group with a kickass old school sound. Their self-titled EP was great. Both “Quality Control” and “Power In Numbers” looked to me like the building of a legendary career. The rhymes, the beats, the delivery … all spot-on. I’d play those albums all the way through, then start them back up again after the last track (I’m not that old, though – I’d just click “play” again, not flip a record or anything ).

Then they put Dave Matthews on an album (“Feedback”) and it all went south. It wasn’t all the fault of that one track, but the entire album was incredibly disappointing. All the excitement and joy of the first three releases just disappeared. And since I could never quite explicate just what it was I loved about J5, I couldn’t really point to any one reason I hated it. It was just bad. And that was a shame, because I still listen to their first three all the time. But just as they seemed poised to become legend, they flew too close to the sun on wings made out of repurposed hemp necklaces.

They never did another album. But they’ll be at the Glastonbury Festival at the end of this month. Hopefully it’s the start of a new chapter. Either way, if you speak against the song “What’s Golden,” I will, to this day, fight you.

Kevin DeLury: Tough call, but I’m gonna have to say the Gravediggaz.

For all intents and purposes, Gravediggaz were responsible for the foundations of “Horrorcore” rap. Picture, if you will: Wu-Tang’s Rza rechristened himself “Tha Rzarector,” teamed up with Prince Paul and unleashed one of the best hip hop albums of the 90’s.It was the perfect meeting of styles. Dark, gory, clever and backed with Prince Paul at the height of his game. As far as first outings go, it is undoubtedly a classic.

Which makes what happens all the more worse. Around the same time, Russell Simmons’ nephew got the same idea and launched the Flatlinerz, who were just awful. Not to mention, somewhere in Detroit a bunch of dudes decided to start dressing up like clowns and rapping.

Ever the savvy businessman, Rza saw the well had been poisoned and repositioned the Gravediggaz as…um, something not as awesome. Instead of a brilliant follow up, we were treated to the Gravediggaz being rebranded as “awaking the spirits of the mentally enslaved with the power of books” or some stupid shit like that. Remember, these are the same guys that said: “Now down the corridor was old fat Ned/ schemin’ on a blowjob from a crackhead/ He was like ‘Hey wanna piece little man? /I was like `Yo, I’m better off with my haaaannnndddd!’ So yeah, after a series of sub-par albums of which Prince Paul and Rza were not even a part of, the group mercifully ended.

But sometimes I sit back and wonder what would have been if a stupid trend hadn’t usurped artistic genius. See y’all at The Gathering. Whoop whoop (sigh).