T’is the season to BBQ, and while it seems to take forever for the food to be ready, it is really worth the WAIT. All too often people rush getting the meat/fish on the grill, and this is a shame for a couple of reasons.
Number one, if you have used a chemical fire starter (fluid or tabs) it can leave an artificial fuel taste on the food. Secondly it increases the amount of smoke (and not the mesquite, apple wood, or oak type purposely done) when cooking. Thirdly, it increases the irregular temperature in your grilling, as various areas settle, or ignite for the first time.
So when do you put the food on? As a rule of thumb, 20 to 30 minutes after lighting the fire. To be more precise when the coals are evenly coated in gray ash, and nice red glow is coming from between the coals.
This state of affairs should be easy to reach if you have done the right prep. Lay out the charcoal (lump wood or briquettes) in a pyramid shape in the centre of the grill basin. This will allow air to circulate and the heat to rise evenly.
Try to adjust the grilling bars a medium distance above the coals as not to burn the food, and never add more fire starter (for more heat) or water (to cool) the coals once the cooking has begun.