It's often said that spicy foods increase blood flow and perspiration, which can actually have a cooling effect on the body. That's why we see hot chilies and peppers used throughout global cuisines in the balmiest of regions. But here in the north, hot spicy foods are often perceived as good ways to warm up as the weather turns chilly. With tailgating season coming into its own and grill-masters soaking up the last opportunities to cook over an open flame, I wanted to throw out a few alternatives to brats and store-bought potato salad for those who like to spice things up.
Galbi, or Korean barbecue, is traditionally short ribs grilled in a sweet soy marinade. I'm half Korean, and let me tell you, the Koreans like their beef as much as any respectable Texan rancher. Considered one of Korea's national dishes, it's certainly versatile enough to please Packers and Badgers fans who are willing to do a little more prep than just plopping a sausage on the grill.
Whether I choose to serve my version of galbi or burgers, I can't stand a cookout without potato salad. The second recipe is based on my dad's, which was based on my grandmother's mustardy potato salad. Mine is a third-generation spin-off that borrows more from the power of deviled eggs.
My dad makes his version to go with his grilled meat entrees. I've continued that tradition. My version has made it to many a cookout over the years, and it's one of my most requested recipes, but up until now I haven't really written it down. I'm finally making good on putting this recipe out there.
See? There's no reason to sweat the grilling season. Unless, of course, you like it hot.
Galbi Damned: A Fiery Korean BBQ
Short ribs can be tricky to track down. Korean barbecue calls for short ribs cut across the bone ("flanken"), which are even harder to find, but you may have luck at an Asian market. I also tried this with short ribs off the bone, cut into half-inch strips (the Willy St. Co-Op has short ribs from Black Earth Meats). You will be able to find Korean red pepper flakes at an Asian market as well. I used wheat-free tamari to accommodate my partner's gluten intolerance, though soy sauce is traditionally used. Soju is a Korean alcoholic beverage distilled from rice that makes a refreshing (and more potent) alternative to beer if you're wondering what to do with the leftovers.
- 1-1/2 teaspoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochu garu)
- 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
- 6 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons chili oil
- 4 tablespoons soju or vodka (sherry cooking wine is also tasty)
- 2/3 cup wheat-free tamari
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 3 pounds short ribs, cut across the bone into half-inch strips, if possible
- 2 scallions, sliced thinly
In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except short ribs, until sugar is dissolved. Put meat and marinade into a gallon-size plastic bag and let marinate several hours or overnight, turning the bag over at least once.
Fire up your grill to medium hot. Put ribs on grill and baste with marinade throughout until it starts to caramelize, cooking about 6-8 minutes or until desired doneness. Garnish with scallions.
Deviled Potato Salad
I prefer the taste and texture of "Follow Your Heart" Vegenaise to mayonnaise, and Coleman's mustard is a wonderfully pungent brand of yellow mustard, though feel free to use your favorite brands. Cipollini onions lend a nice sweetness, although you can use standard red onions too.
- 2-1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
- 1 cup Vegenaise
- 2 tablespoons Coleman's mustard
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup cipollini or red onion, minced
- 3 tablespoons parsley, coarsely chopped
- 4 hardboiled eggs, diced
- 4 dill pickle spears, diced
- Salt to taste
Cut potatoes into three-quarter-inch rounds, then quarter each round.
Put potatoes in pot of cold salted water, cover and bring potatoes to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently until tender, uncovered, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
In a large bowl, blend Vegenaise, mustard, vinegar, paprika and cayenne. Toss potatoes with remaining ingredients and salt to taste. Chill 1-2 hours before serving.
Charcoal vs. gas
Charcoal is tricky, but brings it out the best grill flavor
Some people are staunch advocates of propane over charcoal, or vice versa. The smoky, grilled taste of barbecue is created from meat drippings hitting the coals below. The benefit of propane grills is that you'll have more control over the temperature since most come with a heat dial, and you'll get a cleaner burn.
I do have a loyalty to charcoal. For the "Galbi Damned" recipe, I used natural wood charcoal (available at the Jenifer Street Market, Willy Street Co-op, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and other stores). I've given up cigarettes, but I won't give up charcoal, cancer or not. It just tastes better to me. Charcoal is also what I use simply because I decided that at this stage in my life, I didn't want to spend much more than $50 on a grill.
As for heat control, charcoal can be tricky. For medium heat, the coals will be glowing orange and you'll be able to hold your hands a few inches above the grill for 6-8 seconds. At a hot temperature, the coals are brighter and you'll feel the urge to move your hand in about half that time. For the galbi recipe, which is grilled over medium-high heat, you can use these guidelines to find a happy medium. The number of coals you need will depend on the size of your grill, the type of charcoal you buy, and how much meat you're cooking. Most bags of charcoal also have guidelines on them if you need help eyeballing the right amount. I have a chimney starter (which I highly recommend for quick start-up and avoiding lighter fluid entirely), and I fill mine almost to the top for the ribs recipe.