Japanese Style Grilled Pork with Sesame Udon Noodles

Japanese Style Grilled Pork with Sesame Noodles

I don’t generally think of pork when I think of Japanese food, so when I came across a recipe featuring grilled pork as it’s done in Japan, I wanted to give it a shot. Many of the pork recipes I came across involved hot broth and noodles, and given that it is now high summer — in the mid-Atlantic region that means hot and humid — that didn’t seem like a good idea. Japanese grilled pork, on the other hand, seemed like a fine idea. A little more research and I had a general idea where I was headed, and it involved lots of toasty sesame flavor, miso, and slightly chilled udon noodles.

Japanese style grilling, yakiniku, is typically done with meat sliced thinly for quick indoor grilling at the table. I opted for cubed pork loin, grilled outside over  hardwood charcoal. Pork likes a long marinade, so that was done overnight. For the noodles, I went for my favorite Japanese noodle style, udon, but honestly, just about any Japanese noodle (or even pasta) would do just fine. I just happen to love the texture of udon noodles. And of course, I just had to top everything with a perfect sous vide egg, cooked to 64.5 degrees for 45 minutes. As my Midwestern mother would often say, that’s just showing off.

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Thai-Inspired Flank Steak Salad

Steak Salad

For some reason, I’ve seen a ton of steak salads recently in magazines, on television and on the web. I’m guessing that it has something to do with the time of year. On a very warm summer evening, a salad that’s worthy of a meal makes a lot of sense. In any case, this steak salad was adapted from several similar recipes I uncovered with a little research. It’s inspired by the flavors of Thailand (or maybe southeast Asia), and it will be showing up on our table frequently for the rest of the summer, you can be sure.

One of the things that makes this recipe interesting to me is that the steak marinade and the dressing are essentially the same. The marinade gets just a little more lime juice and a bit of fish sauce, both of which help tenderize the meat. I used flank steak mainly because it’s reasonably priced and generally always available, but I can think of some other cuts of beef that might work, including flat-iron or skirt steak, or maybe even top round steak.

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Grilled Rainbow Trout

grilled rainbow trout

Grilled rainbow trout is one of life’s great pleasures. It’s relatively easy to make and a very light, but satisfying entrée. So when I can get my hands on fresh rainbow trout, you can bet the grill will be getting hot and the fish basket will be oiled up. 

When I say that grilling fresh trout is easy, I mean there are just a few things you have to consider and very few things to do with the fish, no matter what choices you make. First you have to consider what kind of fire you have in the grill. I almost always use wood chunks (apple or cherry) rather than charcoal. The smoky flavor it imparts is perfect for the delicate flavor of the trout. You can use plain charcoal or charcoal with smoking chips and get a somewhat different experience. 

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Grilled Cajun Red Snapper

Cajun Red Snapper

Putting meal on your table that looks and tastes like it belongs in a fine restaurant doesn’t require any special training or hours of preparation and cooking. All you need are some great ingredients and a little care and attention to the cooking process itself, and a little extra effort to compose individual plates. The Cajun Red Snapper pictured above is a perfect example of what I mean.

The recipe below is about as simple as it gets. The snapper was very fresh and wild caught. It got a dry rub and some olive oil and a quick turn on the grill over some cherry wood coals. I’ve included a recipe for the roasted potatoes and onions and for the other side, quickly sautéed some sugar snap peas and mushrooms. I placed the fish in the center of the plate and drizzled just a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to give it a nice gloss and surrounded it with the peas and potatoes and a wedge of lemon. The whole meal took about 30-40 minutes, including the prep.

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Flat Iron Steak Frites with Espresso Balsamic Sauce

flat iron steak frites

Not so long ago, flat iron steaks were “a trend.” You were likely to see them on the menus of fine restaurants and roadside diners alike. That’s not so much the case anymore, but a nice flat iron is a fine and economical way to satisfy your inner carnivore.

Flat iron steak is really nothing more than a lean part of the beef chuck, the foreshoulder that also yields the familiar chuck roast often used for braises and stews. It tends to be leaner than a chuck roast but like chuck has a lot of connective tissue that can be tough when the steak is overcooked. The solution is a good marinade and a grill. It’s the same approach you might use for a flank steak, though a flat iron has better flavor, as far as I’m concerned.

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Grilled Grouper with Roasted Pistachio Lime Pesto

grilled grouper

When it comes to preparing most kinds of fish, I generally stick to the rule that simple is better. And this grilled grouper certainly adheres to that guideline. The grouper is grilled over a cherry wood fire, nothing more. What sets it apart is the pesto, which uses roasted pistachio nuts instead of the traditional pine nuts and lime, rather than the lemon I sometimes use.

Grouper, by the way, is the perfect fish for the grill. It usually comes in fillets that are thick enough (a half-inch or more) for grilling and it stays nice and firm throughout. It also flakes in a predictable way when it is done, which takes some of the guesswork out of timing. About 3-4 minutes per side is sufficient.

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