Thursday, September 8, 2011

Last Hurrah

Just as Pumpkin Spice Lattes were showing up at Starbucks, Christmas decorations were being stocked at Costco, and I started wanting some good hearty ragouts and braised pork roasts, Oregon decided it was finally going to hit 90+ degrees.  Thanks, Portland.  A little late for my stillborn tomatoes.  But one upside--I get a second chance to share the marinade I've been loving all summer long.

This was featured back in July in Bon Appetit, specially designed for Korean-style short ribs.  If you've never tried this cut of meat, go forth and do so!  It takes just minutes to cook on the grill, since they're so thin, but they're tender finger foods that you can season any way.  The best cuts in Portland I've found at Whole Foods.  They're still a little specialty, but ask your butcher.  They might be hidden behind the counter.  You can also get them per-marinated at Trader Joe's, with the best flavor being the Hawaiian one.  That's a good choice if you want to try them out without figuring out your own flavor profiles.

But this marinade is so perfect, I don't think I'll ever buy a premade version ever again.  I'm no great marinater; usually I can't taste what I dump on top of my food, or if I use something from a bottle in a pinch, the meat turns into a gigantic salt lick.  I hate those bottled marinade commercials where the women are describing their cardboard personalities in the kitchen while happy animated fruits and veggies explode in cheap Illustrator swirls--"I'm spicy, with a touch of sweet!"  OMG she embodies all the ideals of Jamaican Jerk!  It's all a bunch of high fructose LIES!!!  Making your own flavor brew is the way to go, but it takes some time to find things that work.  When you do, love it!  And, if you have a food blog, share it.  Or be a "secret recipe" turd.  I'm way too loud for that, though.

Since I started making this a few months ago, I've made a couple of my own additions to the recipe.  First, I add a tablespoon of honey.  This last time I opened up the jar of honey Matt and I got on our trip to Bend at this small sustainable ranch.  I don't even know how to describe it.  There's so much flavor going on.  It's not just sweet, it's earthy, and creamy, and tinged with a berry's tartness.  It made me want to pitch a beehive in the backyard.  Just add that to the list with the chicken coop and the goat.  Secondly, a generous squirt of sriracha, because... come on.  How can this NOT have sriracha in it? 

Last weekend we bought a nice tri-tip roast, and I whipped up a batch of the Korean marinade for it.  Tri-tip is fantastic because you can get one for maybe $15 (or a fantastic 2-pack at Costco for $20ish), and it feeds either a nice-sized family for dinner, or a little family of two people and their cats plus leftovers for quesadillas/burritos/gyros/paninis/random snacking.  It goes a lot further than individual steaks, that's for sure.  I think I marinated it about 6 hours, flipping the Ziploc over two or three times to make sure every side got an even chance.  If you cook it low and slow on the grill it will develop a bit of a crust where the sugars caramelize.  The crunchy bits are my favorite part.  Just don't put it on high heat, or you'll get a charred football that's raw in the middle. 

The flavor has the Asian notes of soy, garlic and ginger, but it doesn't knock you over the head.  YOU ARE EATING KOREAN FOOD!  MUST FINISH WITH MOCHI!!!  You can play it up, by serving with rice or a cold Asian noodle salad, or something that neutralizes it into just good grilling.  I went that route with baked sweet potatoes topped with sour cream and scallions. 

Enjoy the grill for the next few weeks!  But hey, even after that we always have white trash garage grillin'.  Here's to that.  Now, where's my Le Creuset?

Korean Barbecue Marinade
Adapted from Bon Appetit
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons raw or turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablepsoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil (I don't like sesame oil, so I use vegetable oil instead)
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 good squirt of sriracha
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
Whisk 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons water, 1 1/2 tablespoons raw or turbinado sugar, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil, 1 tbsp honey, sriracha,1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped scallions. Marinate your meat (or tofu, I won't judge) for at least 6 hours up to overnight.  Then grill your heart out.
DO AHEAD: Cover and chill up to 1 day.

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