As I suspected, the trip to Hartwood to see Los Lobos didn’t materialize (Sorry, food bank — yinz guys deserve the support, but I just couldn’t swing it this time). What did I do instead?
I went to the grocery with a specific dinner in mind.
Since having a little taste at the Burghseyeview Fourth of July party, I’ve wanted to try making bulgogi. Hutch had a little going on the side of the grill, and it was luscious — sweet and melt-in-your-mouth tender. It was easily as good as anything I’d had before, like at the short-lived Korean place in Athens or more recently at Sushi Kim on Penn Avenue.
I picked a recipe from the Food Network’s website and, naturally, I tinkered a little bit: 1) All dark soy sauce (mostly because I’m not certain I’ve ever even seen light soy sauce before); 2) No water (Uh, the recipe doesn’t say where to use it. How important could it be?); 3) Used a tablespoon of white sugar and added a tablespoon of brown sugar (Seriously — this is supposed to be sweet); 4) I didn’t crush the sesame seeds (because I’m lazy).
After the meat marinated for a couple hours, I cooked it quickly on the grill pan and served it with some stir-fried peppers, rice (I need some help learning how to make sticky rice, folks — anyone have suggestions?) and leaf lettuce to wrap everything in.
And, yeah, it was good.
I’ll do a few things differently next time. I’ll start with better meat and I’ll make sure it marinates overnight — mine wasn’t tough, but it should be a lot more tender than it was. It also needs to be sweeter, something I might try to fix my tossing some brown sugar over the meat while it cooks.
I need to do stuff like this more often; when I try, it generally turns out pretty well. I went through a month or so during the winter when I forced myself to try something new once a week. The result? I came up with a pretty good carbonara, an excellent white chili and a loose-meat cheeseburger that wasn’t anything at all like the ones at Nick’s Corner Lunch in Punxsutawney — but good enough that we may spring it on the tailgaters at some point this season.
I’m going to try to keep this up, too. We can’t afford to eat out as much as we do, but there’s no reason why we still can’t eat well. We just have to try making some of the good stuff on our own.
I’ve never really been good at making rice on the stovetop; I’ve got a rice cooker. It’s a fancy, tricked-out Japanese thing, and it’s probably more than I need (although the timer feature allows for the rice cooker to wake up and start making congee for me before I do, which is somewhat neat). It does really nice work of sticky rice, but I’d be willing to bet that less expensive (and far simpler) rice cookers would do as fine a job. One trick is to rinse the rice in cold water until the water coming off runs clear before cooking: that seams to help.
For the deeply sticky Laotian rices, though, I’ve had good luck with these things:
It’s a goofy thing to have around the kitchen, and it doesn’t do anything else, but it makes fantastic sticky rice, heaps and heaps of it.
God, that looks really good! I’m so sorry that we don’t live closer so I could sample your culinary masterpieces (and experiments).
I think the trick to rice is a rice cooker, I mean the Chinese joints use them. My compadre’s in the ROK Army used to just boil it in a saucepan and I remember there would be alot of trub stuck to the pot. Ironically they got me to buy Arkansas rice at the commisary for them. As far as the sugar, I can’t find my e-recipe but it had a shit ton of brown sugar, way more than mere tablespoons…just sayin. If I was going to do it again I would at least half and crush the sesame seeds, that’s the only thing that annoyed me.
Goob: For ten bucks, that’s worth a try. And if I can present Mrs. Crappy with heaps and heaps of sticky rice, she won’t mind an extra kitchen gadget.
E: This one is easy. I’ll make it next time we’re there — or the first time you’re here.
BEV: Mine needed to be sweeter, and I think adding some brown sugar while the meat is cooking would help a bunch. Thanks for the inspiration!