HOT GRILL COOKING IN THE SUMMER (06.2010)
We are in the grilling season. Every season in North Georgia is grilling season. Hot, cool, warm and cold; sunny, cloudy, stormy and clear it is all the same when the love of smoke and the outdoors is part of your ingredient list for your recipes. Since childhood we have marveled at the glory in the differences between burnt and tanned marshmallows. We have argued over which was better, burnt or tan. Is it better to skewer them on coat hangers or maple/elm/hickory sticks? Over the fire itself or near by to the coals? Marshmallows at a camp South to Savannah and the Okefenokee or North to Standing Indian Gap and War Woman Road, Camp Eagle or Stone Mountain all taste as good as at any other. Things on a stick. Seems that anything grilled on a stick is delicious. Primal, woodland, easy to cook and easy to eat.
Satay indicates Indonesian and South Asian styles of grilling on a bamboo stick. Kabob relates to our European and Near East forms of stick cuisine on flaming swords and metal skewers. You do not always need a fork or a plate. Plated satay and kabobs can be arranged into dramatic statements by simple remembering how Lincoln Logs worked for stacking and making teepees. For absolute drama grill on a long metal skewer or fencing foil type instrument, move it from the heat and drizzle 100 proof rum on to the meat, move it back to the heat so that it catches on fire, i.e. flambé and then push the meat onto a plate with a long serving fork. Very Brazilian, Tahitian and Classic French! See, all cultures enjoy a good flame.
Our satay will be chicken and pork. The peanut sauce is called Nam Jim Satay. The sauce for the chicken is a take on Tom Yum Goong because I think that hot and sour shrimp is a nice companion to grilled chicken. The kabobs are beef with onion and mushrooms with a thickened Worcestershire and Rum glaze; and cubed catfish with corn and peppers on watermelon and yellow tomatoes with sesame soy dipping sauce. Meat on a stick is easy. Plan ahead and enjoy the warm evening, watch the fireflies dance for a while, cook, eat and love the life, the beautiful fact that we are in the South.
Now is a good time to strongly suggest that you date and label all your home made foods that will kept in the refrigerator. Also dating and labeling is a good thing for rice, grains and flour products in the pantry. Spices do lose quality with age so only buy as much as you will use in a short period of time. Toasting spices brings out the natural oils and elevates the flavors of the spice back to a fresh state. Do not be afraid. Today there is always a specialty grocer close enough for supplies.
Fish sauce is known by several grades, I use the Three Crabs or Golden Boy for sauté dishes and the Tiparos dark brand for sauces. Be aware that fish sauce/nam pla on it’s own smells like wet dog, but when cooked it adds a very delicate flavor of calamari, crab and shrimp to the dish. Fish sauce is made with anchovy or any other oily fresh or salt water fish. It is literally salted, fermented fish water. Sounds crazy but not only do great nam pla brands like Golden Boy fully enhance the flavor of your foods it is also a high protein.
Fish sauce is as much as 10% high protein, and this protein is a complete one. It contains all the essential amino acids that the body requires for growth and regeneration. It also contains a rich supply of B vitamins, especially B 12 and pantothenic acid, riboflavin and niacin. Other beneficial nutrients include calcium, phosphorous, iodine and iron. Pantothenic acid is a B5 vitamin that aides in synthesis and binding of proteins, hence regeneration.
This list of curries will prove quite useful in your cooking and dining.
red curry paste – prig gang ped
Red curry paste is the most common of all the curry pastes. It is used widely in many dishes that you are familiar with such as tod mun and satay. Red curry paste is a mixture of dry chili pepper, shallot, garlic, galangal, lemon grass, cilantro root, peppercorn, coriander, salt, shrimp paste and kaffir lime zest.
green curry paste – prig gang kew wan
Green curry paste has the exact ingredients as the red one with the exception of the dried chili pepper. Fresh green pepper is substituted.
yellow curry paste – prig gang leung
Yellow curry comes from Southern Thailand and is similar to red or green curry, but it is made with yellow peppers and turmeric.
masaman curry paste – prig gang masaman
This is also known as matsaman and/or massaman
Masaman is an Indian influenced curry. Masaman curry paste has several Indian spices such as cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. When sold in Thailand, you can see whole white cardamom pods in the paste.
nam prig pow or nam prik pow
This is also known as prik pao and/or chilli paste soya beans
There are many variations of this, but the core mixture is: shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, dry chili pepper, salt, and sugar. Frequently there is also tamarind paste and dried shrimp.
namya curry paste
This curry paste is a mix of shallots, garlic, lemon grass, galangal, gra chai, pepper, salt and shrimp paste. (gar chai is a kind of ginger)
This note on curries is from the Thai Table.
You can use butt or loin for this dish. It will be necessary to pound the meat thin, or if you are good with a knife then thinly sliced and you are there!
The sauce is a classic Thai peanut sauce. I often substitute cashews and pecans for peanuts for restaurant use because of the prevalence of peanut allergies today. Home made red curry can be kept in your refrigerator for over a month. As always, sealed air tight in a plastic container.
1 pound pork loin, sliced into 8, 2 ounce slices
1 teaspoon light brown turbinado crystals
or palm sugar
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
½ cup coconut milk
8 bamboo skewers
Slide the pork onto the skewers. Combine ingredients in shallow plastic pan and submerge the pork into the marinade. Cover and refrigerate over night.
For the sake of magazine space and keeping things a bit less complicated for the home cook we will use Worcestershire and red curry paste from the store instead of tamarind and home made curry. Do look up and make your own Thai and Viet curries when you have the time to discover how and why curry is so complicated, varied and wonderful.
NAM JIM SATAY
2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar
3 tablespoons ground peanuts or peanut butter
You can also use cashews for this satay sauce.
2 tablespoons fish sauce/nam pla
1 tablespoon red curry paste
¾ cup coconut milk
If you want it lighter then use young coconut juice.
Combine ingredients in food processor or mortar and pestle to smooth. Toast in pan over medium heat. Stir the whole time it is cooking so that it does not burn and does not stick to the pan. Cook 3 minutes.
Remove and keep in warm place.
Grill satay skewers over hot coals. It will take about ten minutes hot, 15 minutes over medium hot coals. Paint the Nam Jim Satay on the satay as they grill. Serve with Thai sticky rice and slices of mango.
After you make our two Thai sauces you will understand how important the balance of hot, sour, salty, sweet and umami (mouth watering, delicious) are in Southeast Asian and Singaporean cuisine. Indonesian/Singapore they do not use as much coconut milk as with the foods of Thailand. Tamarind is used in making Worcestershire sauce. Tamarind is the pulp of the big brown seed pods that grow on tamarind trees. It has a slight lime tea kind of flavor. I use it a lot.
CHICKEN SATAY TOM YUM GOONG
Bamboo skewers and a thickened sauce makes for a great day at the table. While grilling satay skewers grill fresh pineapple or watermelon along with the meats. This combination makes for a unified smoky and outdoors flavor while being fresh and sweet at the same time.
Tom Yum is a famous Thai soup, sauce or appetizer preparation. We will use Tom Yum as sauce for our grilled salt and pepper bamboo chicken. I like all of the chicken, dark and white meat alike. Flavor is with the bone and the dark meat. If you are not familiar with boning a chicken then buy boneless thigh and breast. For our dish we will use chicken tenders, the moist and tender underside of the breast. You will not have to pound or cut them, just insert the bamboo.
16 ounces tenders, 2 ounces each
8 bamboo skewers soaked in hot water one hour
This prevents the wood from burning.
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
Rub chicken with salt and pepper. One tender per skewer.
TOM YUM GOON
4 cups water
1 cup bay shrimp
1 juice of one lime
1 stalk lemon grass
3 kaffir lime leaves (if you cannot find them then use the zest of key limes and one lavender flower)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
¼ cup fresh cilantro, torn and rough chopped
3 thai bird chili peppers (if you do not have then use
a serrano pepper, thinly sliced)
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1 teaspoon red miso paste
Combine ingredients and heat on medium heat in saucepan. Stir often and cook for 20 minutes. Strain. Keep warm
Grill the skewers 15 minutes on medium coals, turn four times. Set on plate and pour a half ounce of sauce over each chicken. Serve with a red cabbage, cucumber and fennel slaw.
We have all put beef and mushrooms on a stick and grilled them at sometime in our lives, but have we set them on fire with 100 proof rum? This is the fun.
1 pound tenderloin of beef, cut into 16 cubes
16 crimini mushrooms, washed (if you have access to
King mushrooms then by all means use them)
16 metal skewers
Mushroom, meat, mushroom, meat on the skewer.
4 ounces 100 proof rum
4 ounces Lea And Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, the juice
1 ounce soy sauce
1 ounce fig or pear balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, toasted
Combine all except the rum and heat on high heat to boil. Stir and turn down to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Grill the kabobs to your preferred temperature. When they are cooked remove from the heat and pour the rum over each kabob. Return to very hot grill and have them flambé. If they do not catch fire that is OK, but the fun is the fiery sword of beef.
Plate with grilled potatoes and asparagus. Glaze each kabob with the sauce.
You can use any fresh water or saltwater fish for this as long as it is very fresh.
1 pound catfish, cut in 16 one ounce cubes
1 cup buttermilk
Soak catfish in buttermilk over night.
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon white corn meal
Combine with the catfish so that each cube is coated with spice.
2 ears fresh corn, cut into 16 circle slices
8 slices red bell pepper
8 bamboo or metal skewers
Slide the ingredients on each skewer in this order: pepper, catfish, corn, pepper, catfish corn.
Grill on very high heat for 10 minutes or until catfish is cooked.
1 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
3 stalks green onion, sliced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon sugar
1 jalapeno, thin sliced
½ teaspoon cornstarch
Heat on medium high heat for 10 minutes.
MELON AND TOMATO
4 watermelon, wedges, no rind
8 slices yellow tomato
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon apple juice
1 tablespoon Mexican style crumble fresh cheese (queso fresca)
Set on plate and sprinkle with salt, pepper and cheese.
Place kabobs next to watermelon and tomato with small dish of sauce on plate.
Accompany with German potato salad and Southern style slaw.
Walk with me here where the honeysuckle blooms
Where the ocean sky ripples with each cloud passing,
Soft footsteps by the houses whose dogs are too lonely,
Behind the fences barking, but just wanting a friend.
Pulling the golden closer and the lab a little tighter,
They are so beautiful playing in the last light of day,
Their coats catching these last rays of light,
Pure joy just to walk, all of us walking,
Loving the peace that is this day, like many others,
A day hand in hand, just the dogs, you and I.
And what makes these hours brighter
Are the words of love with a Southern drawl,
The ways of a smile that none may ever name.