4 Bomb Grill Recipes from Bay Area Chefs

Fourth of July tradition calls for lighting up the grill. But there's no rule that says you have to stick to hot dogs and hamburgers.

In a bid to up our game before hosting the annual backyard barbecue, we asked some of the Bay Area's best open flame experts to share their favorite recipes for grilling.

International Smoke's Korean-Style Barbecue Ribs

Love Korean-style barbecue and Ayesha Curry? These ribs are gonna be your jam.

"We dry-marinate the ribs for 12 hours, and this marinade produces a great sticky bark when the ribs are cooked," Curry says. To prepare this recipe successfully, she reminds readers to "...budget time to cook on two separate days in order to maximize flavor with the overnight marinating process."

// International Smoke, 301 Mission St. (SoMa), internationalsmoke.com

You will need:

  • Korean-style dry rub (recipe below)
  • Korean-style wet rib glaze
  • Fresh baby-back pork ribs

Korean-style dry rib rub:

  • 2 tbsp gochugaru - Korean chili flake
  • ½ tbsp toasted sesame seed, white, ground in blender
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to completely combine. Set aside.

Korean-style wet rib glaze:

  • 3 tbsp garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh scallions, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/16 cups ginger, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup gochujang chili paste
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp (packed) brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sugar, granulated white
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp peanut or grapeseed oil

Pulse scallions, garlic, and ginger in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add scallions, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring often, until softened, and starting to stick to bottom of pan, about 4 minutes. Add gochujang, white sugar, brown sugar, soy sauce, and sesame seeds and stir until smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often to prevent scorching, until thick, 5 - 10 minutes. Remove sauce from heat; season with salt. Transfer mixture to a food processor (preferably a Vitamix blender) and blend until fully incorporated and smooth. Transfer to heat-safe storage container. Set aside.

Ribs preparation:

  • 2 racks fresh baby back pork ribs (about 2 pounds each), trimmed, thoroughly patted dry
  • 1 tbsp Hawaiian red salt to finish
  • ¼ cup scallion slices


  1. Rub ribs with the wet glaze and dust with Korean dry rib rub spice mix.
  2. Let stand on a cooling rack on sheet pans, uncovered, on the top shelf of the refrigerator until the next day.
  3. The following day, to cook your ribs to tenderness, you'll need to use indirect heat on your grill. If you're using a charcoal grill, heat your chimney of coals and then empty them all onto one side; if you're using a gas grill, turn up the burner on only one side. Place the ribs on the opposite side, over indirect heat, so they can cook low and slow. The goal is for the closed grill to maintain a temperature of 250 degrees. Forget about them for 3 to 4 hours.
  4. Remove from the smoker and baste with part of the Korean-style wet rib glaze. Rest for 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. To serve, cut into portions and re-brush with more wet glaze.
  6. To garnish, sprinkle red salt, sesame seeds, and scallions on the ribs prior to plating.

4505 Burgers and BBQ's Harissa Chicken Wings

You may have tasted these already—the harissa chicken wings make occasional appearances on the menu at 4505 Burgers and BBQ. And according to chef Ryan Farr, "These wings are perfect for a backyard barbecue!"

"The harissa dry rub adds a new dimension to the typical chicken wing," adds Farr, who serves them with a mayonnaise-based white barbecue sauce, also known as Alabama white sauce, which is popular throughout the Southeast. "While it's great on all kinds of BBQ, it especially shines with smoked chicken, and it's stellar on chicken wings," Farr says.

// 4505 Meats, 705 Divisadero St. (NoPa), 4505burgersandbbq.com

You will need:

  • 2 cups harissa dry rub* (recipe below)
  • chicken wings, flats and drums divided, tips reserved for stock
  • lemons cut into wedges
  • ½ bunch picked cilantro
  • 2 cups house white BBQ (recipe below)

*Harissa is a North African spice that people often associate with a paste, but this recipe will let you make a dry seasoning powder to toss on your wings before popping them on the grill.

Harissa dry rub:

  • ½ cup sea salt
  • ½ cup ancho powder
  • ⅓ cup granulated garlic
  • ⅓ cup paprika
  • ⅓ cup cayenne
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp chipotle
  • 1 tbsp caraway
  • 1 tbsp red pepper
  • 1.5 tsp fennel
  • 1.5 tsp dry spearmint

Mix together all ingredients and set aside.

House white BBQ sauce:

  • 2 cups mayonnaise, preferably Helman's or Best Foods
  • 2 tbsp pickled jalapeno liquid (from a jar or can)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp ground coriander

Mix together all ingredients and set aside.


  1. Preheat grill to medium heat.
  2. Toss wings with extra virgin olive oil and Harissa spice in a large bowl, and place wings on the grill in a single layer.
  3. Turn wings occasionally, and cook through until skin is crispy, 20 to 35 minutes.
  4. Platter wings and top with cilantro.
  5. Serve with lemon wedges and house white BBQ sauce on the side.

Bird Dog's Grilled Avocado with Ponzu

"This is the most California dish I've ever made in my life," admits chef Robbie Wilson of Bird Dog in Palo Alto. "We are so blessed with avocados in California, and we like to use them in unique ways while they are in season."

Putting them on the grill was only natural. "We light a fire every day at the restaurant because, let's face it, everything tastes better over wood. Why not avocados?"

When you cook an avocado, it becomes buttery—"like the most tender piece of meat you've ever had." Then, a half-salty, half-acidic Ponzu sauce provides the perfect balance.

A note about ripeness: When selecting avocados for the grill, Wilson suggests channeling Goldilocks. "Choose ones that are not too soft, and not too firm. The fruit should just give a little to the touch. If it feels soft like guacamole, run away. You are better off erring on the side of too firm than too soft."

// Bird Dog, 420 Ramona St. (Palo Alto), birddogpa.com

You will need:

  • 4 Haas avocados
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated wasabi or horseradish
  • 1 batch ponzu sauce (recipe below) or good-quality store bought
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ponzu sauce:

  • 1 piece kombu seaweed (3 x 2 inches)
  • 1 to 1.5 cups bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ¾ cup lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for one to two days to develop taste; strain well after one day. If you like more dashi flavor, keep it in refrigerator for two to three days and then strain. The ponzu sauce keeps in the refrigerator for six months. Mirin is often available in small bottles at Whole Foods and Safeway.


  1. Preheat the grill as if you were cooking a steak.
  2. Cut each avocado lengthwise in half and separate.
  3. Carefully remove the pit.
  4. With a large spoon, scoop the fruit out of its skin and brush each side with the olive oil.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Place the avocado flat side down and grill to mark. (the idea is to mark each avocado, not actually cook)
  7. Gently turn over and grill until barely warmed through.
  8. Fill each cavity with the Ponzu sauce and serve with freshly grated wasabi.

DOSA's Grilled Peaches and Cream

Grilling peaches intensifies the flavor of the fruit, which makes chef Arun Gupta's sweet-and-smoky dessert more than the sum of its parts.

"The heat from the fire concentrates the sugar, and the bitterness of the slightly burnt edges accentuates the natural sugars of the peach," he says.

The fresh peaches in this dessert add acid as well as texture, while the cardamom, yogurt cream, and cashew chikki impart nutty flavors, creaminess, and complexity. If you have never tried a grilled peach, you are in for a special treat.

Note: While you could use substitutions for jaggery (light brown sugar) and ghee (clarified butter), Gupta recommends paying a visit to your local Indian grocery store for the real thing. Rose water is typically available in Safeway and Whole Foods.

// Sadly, Dosa has closed it restaurant locations, but you can still make this tasty dessert at home.

You will need:

  • 1.5 pounds fresh peaches
  • yogurt cream (recipe below)
  • cashew chikki (recipe below)

Yogurt cream:

  • 2 cups cream
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups yogurt
  • ½ tsp rose water (half cap full)
  • 1 tsp ground black cardamom

Beat cream, sugar, rosewater, and cardamom in mixer until very soft peaks form - just enough to barely hold shape. Fold in yogurt. Makes about 1.5 quarts.

Cashew chikki:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • ¾ cups jaggery
  • 1 tbsp ghee

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread cashews onto a baking tray and toast in an oven until golden brown (8 to 10 minutes) at 325F. Once cool, lightly pulse cashews in a food processor until crushed. (Make sure to not pulse them fully into a powder.) Next, heat ghee in a sauté pan and add jaggery, cooking 3 to 4 minutes on medium high heat until jaggery is fully dissolved and starts to thicken slightly. Add crushed cashews and continue to cook until jaggery mix evenly coats all the nuts. Pour out onto a greased baking surface and let cool. Pulse in food processor and use to garnish as desired. Keep sealed in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.

Grilled peaches:

  • 1 pound peaches cut into quarters
  • ½ pound peaches diced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ¼ tsp powdered cloves
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder


  1. Preheat grill to medium high.
  2. Toss peaches with sugar, olive oil, cinnamon and cardamom and place cut sides on grill over medium high flame.
  3. Once cut side is sufficiently charred (it can be a little black) flip peach onto other cut side and repeat the process.
  4. Carefully remove grilled peaches and toss with fresh diced peaches.
  5. Divide into serving bowls and garnish with a tablespoon of yogurt and and a teaspoon of cashew chikki.

This article was originally published in 2018.