Photos by Derek Dercep.
I am currently writing this post from Lake Muskoka in Canada. My friend OWNS a freaking island here. Apparently, this lake is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for summer vacation destinations. Screw the Hamptons, this island is so much better!!! (Although I've never been to the Hamptons). Life is good, eating good, drinking good, the only noise I hear is a boat. Only access to the island is via boat. I feel so grown up.
Anyhow, I went to Ogunquit, Maine for July 4th weekend. This has become our tradition, and was our fourth year there.
Bowtie Night. From left: Adam, Michael, Ernie, Chris, Christian, Nate, Eric, me and Donald.
The owner of the B&B (we stay at the same place every year) knows us well enough that they let us cook up a 4th of July BBQ every year.
By the way, the pictures here were all taken by my friend Derek Dercep. He spent $2,000 on his camera, and the result is so obvious. These pictures look the way it should, unlike all the photos I take...
I recently had a program at work about Japanese grilling and I really wanted to try some recipes from the book. Technically, I could use my oven to mimic the recipes, but nothing is better than using and actual grill.
Here's the menu for the big day:
Baby back ribs with homemade BBQ sauce
Cedar plank salmon glazed with wasabi sugar ginger sauce
Garlic-soy-olive oil-marinated pork loin
Grilled corn brushed with soy sauce and sugar
Seared Tuna steak with avocado scallion puree
Nuked potato with grill marks on them
Before starting, I grilled some watermelon to get the sugars concentrated, and put them in the fridge.
I always make my BBQ sauce. It's very easy--mix ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and liquid smoke. You can adjust the taste to your liking. If you want, you can add some honey, or chili sauce to make it spicier.
To make the potato, nuke them as Yoko did on Japanify: wash, then microwave them for about nine minutes (these are large Russets). Slice them pretty thick, and coat with olive oil and salt. Put on the grill for get nice grill marks.
Below is me trying to get light for my cigarette from the grill. Don't do it.
Potatoes are nicely grilled.
Unfortunately the grill never got too hot, and I was also naturally impatient to keep the lid down, so they didn't get enough grill marks. Oh well.
Next is the corn. First, you just throw them on the grill with the husks and keep them there for about 2o minutes. Take them off, and peel them when it's cooled down enough. Put them back on the grill, and brush with soy sugar mixture. Again, I don't have exact measurement for this, but you mix sugar and soy sauce and boil them to dissolve the sugars.
Cedar plank salmon was from the book, The Japanese Grill (original recipe was Arctic Char, but Maine doesn't seem to carry any of the fancy stuff). The book is interesting. With a little attention to detail, the boring American-style barbeque can become very fancy. For this one, soak cedar plank in water overnight. Take salmon out of the fridge and bring it back to room temp. Sprinkle salt all over, and leave them for about 30 minutes. This gets rid of water inside the meat, and will concentrate the flavor.
To make the glaze, mix 2 tbsp wasabi, 2 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp grated ginger.
Wipe salmon with paper towel then pour the glaze over.
The glaze on its own is very spicy, but don't worry. It definitely gets milder once it's cooked, plus the ratio of glaze and salmon meat makes it just the right balance of spicy and sweet.
Baby back baby back baby back ribs. I bought McCormick's pork rub and rubbed (at home I make my own rub, but I didn't want to bother bringing it on the plane), then put it in heavy duty foil, tightly sealed it, and put in 250˚F oven for about 2.5 hours until meat falls of the bones.
Oh, the pork loin. I wasn't sure if the baby back was enough to feed nine people so I bought extra pork loins, and marinated them in soy sauce, garlic and olive oil for about two hours. I also added tuna steak in the marinade for an hour or so. What you see in the center is tuna, right is pork loins and left is of course plank salmon.
The almon cooked for about 15 minutes. As soon as the inside is pink enough, you can take it off the heat.
And the baby backs. Generously glaze over with BBQ sauce:
And flip them a couple of times to get nice color on them.
I was being shy, trying to hide the penis, but totally failed...
Is this pork porn or what?
Salmon looks fantastic.
Cut a couple of slabs each.
Tuna was just barely seared. Cut into bite size pieces. The avocado puree is: 3 avocados, lime juice from 4 limes, and 1 bunch of scallions. Process them until it's all pureed. Then add salt to adjust taste. It's similar to guacamole, but a little more Asian. To finish, I drizzled soy sauce over it
This was good, like AWESOME good. I also made balsamic vinegar reduction and drizzled on top of watermelons.
After the dinner, we cleaned up and changed into our rhinestones for our big night out.
Japanese-style BBQ is something you should definitely try. The book The Japanese Grill is something you should give your dad/husband/boyfriend who think they know all about grilling--this will totally widen the variety of grilling you can try, using the same ingredients. Try it!
BBQs are definitely fun, and I wish I had that option in the city. Maine is wonderful. Writing this on a private island is even better.