In the dog days of summer, it’s hard to spend a lot of time over a kitchen stove or oven. That is a lot of heat trapped within the four walls of your house, and a sweaty cook is not so sexy. Unless you’re cooking in a swimsuit, maybe, and even then you’d probably look better sans sweat in the swimsuit.
Pause, as I imagine legions of handsome cooks out there cooking in their swimsuits, bodies dangerously exposed to steam and errant sprays of hot oil. Mrmm. Hot. Oil. Steam. Steamy.
Oh–where was I? Oh yes, I was talking about how it can get really too hot to cook indoors during the height of summer (even here in Berkeley, where we are facing an alarming and unusual summer heatwave). In summer time, why lock yourself indoors anyhow? If you’ve got a barbecue, then it’s time to take the cooking outdoors (and dining outside, al fresco, is a wonderful thing on summer evenings).
It’s refreshing to make a meal in the outdoors (I even like to cook while backpacking, while watching the sun set and the stars pop out), and somehow the experience becomes more communal while everyone’s gathered around a barbecue. The grill just seems less intimidating to people, harkening to our primitive caveman days.
My favorite barbecue is NOT Texas barbecue (though I do respect it a lot, and love to eat the wonderful stuff), but Korean barbecue. I’ll even marinate a regular “American steak” in Korean marinade before barbecue’ing it. I grew up on marinated beef, and I’ve never fallen in love with “dry rub” on a steak. It tastes…too dry. For me, anyway.
So I share with you my recipe for Korean barbecue marinade. The requests for my Korean BBQ marinade recipe increases during barbecue season, so I thought I’d just post it up here for all of you. I use it to marinate bulgogi (wafer thin slices of beef), galbi (short ribs…for barbecue: cut the long, thin way), chicken, and “western steak” (rib eye, porterhouse, you name it). I’ll stick the meat and marinade in a ziploc bag and marinate it at least 2-3 hours, and optimally overnight before heading outdoors to the shaded terrace and the beckoning grill.
Korean marinade (makes about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup vermouth or dessert wine (sauternes, late harvest zin, auslese, muscat, whatever’s sweet…or vermouth works best…if you don’t have those things, use regular white or red wine and up the sugar)
- 1/4 cup sugar (the marinade should be sweet but not TOO sweet–add more if you put in regular wine instead of dessert wine, add less if you don’t have a sweet tooth like I do)
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 3 cloves of garlic chopped fine
- ground black pepper to taste
- a handful of scallions, chopped (optional)
- a handful of minced asian pear, or pear (optional)
Easiest directions ever! Mix all the above ingredients together until well blended.