Hacks to bring the heat 🔥




Photographer Ben Broomfield

Do you like a little extra kick in your home barbecue? We’ve got your back. Our friends and sponsors at TABASCO® Brand – the undisputed experts when it comes to adding heat to your fire – have curated a series of “hacks to bring the heat” with a special line-up of fire-cooking, heat-loving chefs.

Whether you’re looking for tips around handling the flames under your grill or a new technique for adding spice, this series is bound to fan your fire for cooking over wood and charcoal. The hacks will be added to a new Highlight on our Instagram Stories using #TABASCOHeatHacks, and we’ll be updating this article with each and every chef hack as they come in. So stay tuned, bookmark this page, turn on your @MeatopiaUK Instagram notifications, and get ready to spice up your fire-cooking skills.

More soon… in the meantime, keep cooking 🔥

We love to see it.


Elizabeth Haigh

Elizabeth Haigh has more than a few awards under her belt, and a few years cooking at Meatopia too. Her current project Mei Mei in London’s Borough Market shows off her love of wood-fire cooking, with food that brings together her Singaporean-British heritage and fine dining background.

HACK: Charred sweetcorn with TABASCO butter sauce

Bring a kick to your corn by adding as much TABASCO as you like to 50ml of melted, salted butter and whipping up. Pour over charred sweetcorn, top with grated cheese and enjoy!

HACK: How to cook a perfect medium-rare steak

Even the most skilled chefs have to spend a long time finding that perfect medium-rare point with a steak. Here’s two ways to nail it, courtesy of Elizabeth. 

METHOD ONE: Make a loop between your finger and thumb and prod the inner part of your palm at the base of your thumb. Depending on which finger you press to your thumb, you will get different levels of firmness, which you can use to compare to the firmness of your steak on the grill. 

              Your forefinger and your thumb = rare

              Your middle finger and your thumb = medium-rare

              Your ring finger and your thumb = medium

              Your pinky finger and your thumb = medium-well

METHOD TWO: Use a thermapen. Invest in a good meat thermometer and it will never fail you. Aim for 45°C for medium-rare or 55°C for medium, but account for at least 10 minutes resting (depending on steak size – mine are 250g) during which time your internal temperature will rise by a few more degrees.

Harneet Baweja

Harneet Baweja is the founder of Indian small-plates restaurant Gunpowder. His two London restaurants have become a cult favourite amongst lovers of big, bold and beautiful flavours, and his dishes at Meatopia never disappoint.

HACK: Foil wraps

Using aluminum foil is a great hack for controlling the cooking temperature of your fire. It also allows you to manage space and avoid delicate meat, fish or vegetables from burning if the fire gets too hot or out of control. You can use it as a surface to cook fish over, which prevents it from sticking to the grill, but mostly it’s great for cooking vegetables if the grill is already crowded. Simply wrap snap peas, potatoes, carrots or any other veg in foil and toss straight into the embers until tender.

HACK: A brine with extra heat

Brining brings extra juiciness and flavour to any meat or fish, but this method brings even more oomph. Harneet makes a 6% brine by measuring out enough water to immerse your meat, then adding 6% of its weight in salt. Dissolve together, then add 4 tablespoons of TABASCO® Sauce (or more if you feel like it) and stir. Pour this over your meat and leave in the fridge — 3 hours or more for chicken, or just 15 minutes for fish. You’ll get an unbeatably consistent flavour throughout.

After brining, you can add a second marinade for more flavour, like a paste of fresh coriander, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook over the grill and serve hot with your chosen sides.

Freddie Janssen

Freddie is the brains behind Snackbar, a pop-up-turned-perm East London neighbourhood cafe and bar born out of her love of Asian flavours and moreish snacks. She’s a big name on London’s food scene, having worked with some of the biggest names in the business and authoring cookbook Pickled.

HACK: Garlic chilli prawns

These are quick and delicious — a barbecue staple. First, sautée garlic, shallots and spring onions with a splash of oil in a pan over your grill. Meanwhile, get your prawns on and grill them until pink on each side. Returning to your pan, add soy sauce, kewpie mayo and TABASCO Sriracha Hot Sauce to your garlic and onions. Stir over a low heat until the sauce comes together, then toss your grilled prawns through and serve.

HACK: The half-onion

This is a great way to clean grease and grime from your grill between cooks. Simply slice a white onion in half and hold with tongs. Rub the cut side over the grill while still hot and hey presto — good to go again.

Budgie Montoya

Budgie Montoya is the chef behind Sarap, a pop-up eatery turned bricks and mortar Filipino restaurant in Brixton, London. His food is an explosion of flavours celebrating Filipino dishes and styles and lends itself perfectly to fire-cooking. No surprise then that his Hacks To Bring The Heat are all about big, unapologetic flavours.

HACK: The spray-baster

Using a spray bottle to baste your meat while it’s on the grill is an amazing way to amp up the juiciness. But when you fill that spray bottle with your marinade mix, you also add another level of flavour. Budgie likes to use a whole, spatchcock’d chicken for this method and a simple Filipino-style marinade made with calamansi juice, coconut vinegar, soy sauce, 7-Up, ginger and garlic. Marinade and grill your meat as usual, setting aside some of the marinade mix to spray your meat as it cooks.

HACK: Sawsawan

“Sawsawan” is Tagalog for ‘dipping sauce’, and this one is super-special. Combine soy sauce, calamansi juice, chopped tomatoes, sliced red onion and TABASCO® Habanero Sauce and serve in a dipping bowl alongside the marinated chicken described above and your choice of veg. “The TABASCO® Habanero Sauce adds some heat and accentuates the fruity and tropical flavours.”, says Budgie.