Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Kickin' it Old School Style

I’m what some people might call a technology idiot old school. Hubby is exactly the opposite. It's like George Jetson married to Wilma Flintstone. We're constantly discussing the value of modern-day conveniences. In my opinion, these so-called conveniences are either a waste of money or end up being a big pain in the ass. Like the dumb "universal" remote control that only controls half of the TV accessories. Don't get me wrong, I love things like electricity and indoor plumbing, but why do I need a camera phone that can play MP3s? Why do I need a panini maker when I have a perfectly good cast iron grill pan and lid? Why do I need an espresso machine when the stove top brewer works perfectly fine?

The latest issue is whether we should get a gas grill. Hubby thinks gas would be swell, while I’m a die-hard charcoal fan. Food tastes better over coals and wood and there's no threat of freak explosions. But with the shitty spring weather we had here in Portland, I almost caved. It would be so easy to just turn on the gas and throw our hot dogs on 5 minutes later. We could grill every day this summer, even on the days we get home late from work. Heck, we could grill all year long, no matter the weather. It's such a tempting thought!

While I agonize over the issue, you should make this delicious Korean-style grilled pork I made this last weekend. I completely ripped this idea from was inspired by manggy, who posted about a mouthwatering Korean barbequed chicken. Do check out the post; his picture is enough to induce uncontrollable drooling. He did it as a stir-fry, but I decided to try it grilled. Oh man, was it good! Thanks to manggy for the inspiration!

Note: Scanning the ingredients, you may think this dish may be too spicy; it’s not. The heat from the gochujang is a subtle heat, not like the in-your-face heat of a birdseye chilli. My 5-year-old enjoyed this dish as much as Hubby and I did.

Korean-style Grilled Pork
  • 4 to 5 tbs gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 3 tbs tamari (regular old Kikkoman is fine)
  • 2 tbs rice vinegar
  • 3 tbs browns sugar or honey
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs grated ginger
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 pounds boneless pork loin chops (or tenderloin or even chicken, if you prefer)
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
  • green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal for garnish (optional)

Make the marinade by combining all the ingredients, except the pork. Mix well to get a uniform mixture. Taste the mixture and adjust according to your preference. Keep in mind, it will be less spicy on the cooked pork.

Since the marinade is more like a barbeque sauce, I recommend giving the chops a couple of wacks with a meat mallet. Don’t annihilate the meat; just a couple of solid wacks to flatten them slightly. This breaks down the fibers of the meat a little and allows the marinade to penetrate better.

Marinate the meat for at least 4 hours in the fridge, but longer is better. I started it in the morning and let it go all day. Take the meat out of the fridge up to one hour before grilling to take the chill off.

Couple of things to keep in mind when grilling. Grill over direct heat, but the coals shouldn't be blazing hot. Watch carefully because the marinade will burn quite easily. It may only take a couple of minutes each side, depending on how thick your chops are. You definitely don’t want to overcook loin chops, unless you like dry-ass pork.

Before serving, garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and green onions. I served the pork with Japanese-style rice and a simple stir-fry of carrots, celery and ginger. A side of kimchi would also go great!


Manggy said...

No, Darlene, thank *you*! ;) I just had a pathetic tiny chicken asparagus sandwich for dinner. Your dish looks so good it's sending my tummy into acrobatics. When you mentioned the kimchi, it brought to mind the set meal I used to have at the Korean restaurant near the hospital when the mood struck-- start out with clear, salty (but good for melting the insides) broth, then kimchi, a big bowl of rice, the pork chop/chicken breast that looks very much like your glorious dish here, a scoop of sweet and salty extremely tiny shrimp (er, I dunno what they were called!), and a non-sweet tamago-like slab of egg that I dipped in sweetened, thinned-out gochujang.


Dee said...

I love those little shrimps you're talking about! They have an anchovy one as well. YUM! In fact, I would be happy just eating any of the side dishes that accompany the meat dishes.

I didn't mention in the post, but I reserved a little of the marinade (before adding the meat) to make a sauce. It was goooo-ood!

Stefania/CityMama said...

I was like you (hello! half-Korean here! charcoal all the way!) but my mom gave us a gas grill a couple of years ago and we've never used charcoal since. If you get a good one, it's no different than cooking with a gas stove. I was really scared to use it, but now, it's no problem. Food still tastes good and yes, it's nice not to have to wait to cook steaks or hot dogs.

PS I love seeing how your food photography has evolved!

Dee said...

Thank you Stefania! I'm pretty sure I'm going to bit the bullet and just go for it. Maybe I'll just turn my charcoal grill into a smoker and use the gas for regular grilling. I just need to get over the thought of freak explosions.

And thank you about the photography. I took a class that was really helpful. The camera is the one modern convenience that won't complain about, even though I still don't know how to use all the functions!

Anonymous said...

This looks awesome! As far as grilling goes, I have a gas grill, and am hankering after a charcoal one.

These days with a chimney starter it doesn't take long to get a charcoal grill seriously hot - and you are right, food tastes better over hot coals.

Dee said...

Matt, thanks for your comment.

I saw a foodnetwork challenge once on grilling and all the contestants didn't know what the hell to do with the chimney. I had a good chuckle about that. I could never get the coals going without one!

Paula said...

Your pork looks great! Your post made me laugh because I'm all about the gas grill, yet Hubby loved the charcoal kettle grill we used to have. I live in your neck of the woods as well, and with all the damp and drizzle, I love going out and just pressing the button for instant heat! Looks like summer might arrive today though!

Dee said...

Paula, we're probably going to switch. But I told hubby he has to get something that can put out enough BTUs. One of our friends has a gas grill that I feel doesn't get the grates hot enough. I want sear marks!

Yes, summer is finally here! It's going to be 90+ this weekend and I can't wait!!!

Pam said...

I so want to make this dish. Asian cooking has always intimidated me but this recipe makes me think I can do it. Thanks for the inspiration. I am glad you liked the freezer jam! It's my favorite - I got my delicious berries at the Beaverton Farmers Market. Delightful. By the way, it's nice to see a fellow Portland Foodie out there. Cheers.

Dee said...

Pam, I know how you feel about being intimidated by a particular type of food. I feel that way about French cooking. It all seems so complicated! But I hope you'll try this recipe. There is no way to mess up the flavor. You can get the hot pepper paste at Uwajimaya in the refrigerated section.

Just Cook It said...

I am totally with you on the old school front, although I prefer to use the term 'traditionalist'! There are so many pointless kitchen gadgets and charcoal makes a far better barbie than gas ever could.

tigerfish said...

No grilling set for me except for my small little portable George Foreman grill that can grill for just 1 hungry man - OR - 2 hungry ladies :D

Dee said...

Alex, traditionalist / old-school...toma(e)to / toma(h)to. same, same. :-)

tigerfish, you're bringing back memories. I remember when the George Foreman grill was ALL THE RAGE! Everybody seemed to have one, including myself when I was in college. That and my rice cooker and microwave. Those were all I needed.

Jason said...

Oh, I love this post, very entertaining! I grew up using a gass grill so I have been struggling with the opposite issue...do I need a charcoal grill? Well, I decided that I did and bought myself a Weber today, and grilled up some delicious lamb burgers and veggies, they were so yummy. I think you need a gass grill though, it's so nice to use in the middle of winter when you are craving BBQ!
ps...this recipe looks amazing!

Dee said...

Kevin, thanks for stopping by. Yes, it was quite tasty and very easy to make.

Jason, being able to grill during the winter is a big positive. I have a cast iron grill pan, which I love and use often, but I don't like to use it for stuff like this dish because the marinade just burns and is impossible to remove. I have to go through the whole process of scrubbing it off then reseasoning the pan. Complete pain-in-the-ass.

bb said...

I hope you haven't caved. Two words (and you already know them): Charcoal rocks! Those gas grill pussy's...with all due apologies to my gassy friends....are SO missing out. Stick with it!
BTW- the bags of hardwood charcoal at all the new Whole Foods around town aren't such a bad deal.

Dee said...

bb, no, I'm doing a good job of stalling.LOL

I picked up a bag of that charcoal, and I like it. The wood is ready a little sooner than regular charcoal. But they don't burn as long. Still, they do give a nice flavor, especially when supplemented with wood chips! I think Trader Joe's has a similar kind of charcoal too.