These days, it seems like you can hardly turn a corner without running into yet another teriyaki joint.. Happy Teriyaki. Yummy Teriyaki. Best Teriyaki. Teri Teriyaki. Teriyaki has become the hamburger of the 21st Century.
Some are quite good. And just like hamburger joints, there is great variability in technique and quality of teriyaki.
And yet…and yet. There is so much more to the Asian grill than teriyaki.
Before stoves, before ovens, even before microwaves, there was fire. Grilling is the most basic form of cooking. It is one of the first ways in which homo sapiens distinguished itself from other carnivores. I hypothesize that it is not tool-making , in fact, that distinguishes humans from other life forms; the true transition to the top of the food chain occurred when we evolved from eating-to-live, to living-to-eat. There is a big difference.
Some might see this as decadence. I prefer to simply accept my destined role in the universe: Foodie-San.
In Asia, the art of the grill has melded the primordial draw to fire with the most advanced and evolved state of culinary bliss. Each Asian nation has its own grilling masterpieces, each to be loved in their own ways.
But nothing beats Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia—Southeast Asia is the Nirvana of grilling.
Imagine fresh, tart, sweet, salty and spicy all melded into one soul-searing blast of uber-umaminess.
I must admit that summer or winter, rain or shine, my husband and I grill constantly. That is to say, I do the seasonings, hubby mans the grill (in a very literal sense), beckoning back to pre-history.
This week, I feature two recipes that have become good-old standbys in my grilling arsenal.
Grilled Hanoi Salmon
Marinate a whole boneless 2-3 lb filet of salmon for an hour or so in this concoction:
- Juice of one lime
- 2 T chopped shallots
- 1/4 C fish sauce
- 2 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 T turmeric
- 1 T grated ginger
Grill the fish over medium coals, about 10 minutes a side, making certain not to overcook. Serve over the seasoned rice noodles. I would recommend wearing gloves when marinating thesalmon. Unless you like yellow fingernails.
Sri Lankan Chicken
Mix this all up. Soak 2 pounds of thighs overnight and grill. It can’t be easier.
- 2 t each: salt and pepper
- 2 T each soy sauce, canola oil, sugar, grated onion
- 2 each fresh minced serranos and crushed garlic