Have you ever noticed the commercials for the big corporate restaurants? They make a huge deal about their “new” menus. They promote these menus endlessly for months at a time. Upon closer inspection, the “new” menus are usually just a reorganization of the same ol’ offerings: a couple of combo platters, maybe a different seasoning blend on their frozen fries, or a new twist on their bottled ranch dressing. Ugh. Where’s the seasonality? The variety? The fun? Where’s the humanity?
I’m a huge proponent of seasonal menus, yet I’m starting to think I’m alone. Even independent restaurants seem to be ignoring seasonality these days, especially upscale places. I can’t figure it out. Maybe diners aren’t interested in variety and change. Perhaps people want to stick with what’s familiar when dining out–especially when the meal is expensive.
Eating is FUN. It’s one of my favorite activities, right after cooking, of course. It’s especially fun to eat lighter, spicy, more delicately prepared foods in the summer when the temps outside are sweltering. The best part of changing or lightening your cooking style for the hotter months is that you can continue to enjoy your favorite proteins. Simply change the sides, the cooking techniques, cuts and even portion sizes.
The grill is my favorite piece of summer cooking equipment. The mere aromas of charcoal and hard woods burning should be enough to inspire anyone to cook on a grill. When you add the sweet smell of the smoke created by the flare-ups from the fats dripping from the meats and vegetables as they caramelize, you have recipe for a mouthwatering meal!
With this in mind, I decided to cook some short ribs the other night. NOT the big, thick, rich, succulent, red-wine-braised variety I often enjoy in the winter. Instead I’m cooking a thin, spicy, citrusy, sweet, salty version perfect for grilling: the brilliant Korean short ribs called Gaibi.
First I chose a cut known as flanken. This means they’re cut across the bones, leaving about portion that’s half-inch to one-inch thick, by six to eight inches long. Perfect for quickly absorbing the Gaibi marinade flavors. Plus, they require very little cooking time. To be honest, the short cooking time is actually a disadvantage, considering the amazing aromas wafting up from the grill. Just thinking of the smell makes me salivate. I marinated these ribs for a couple days and served them with kimchi and farmers market vegetable fried rice.
Here’s the marinade recipe. I hope it inspires y’all to Chef-Up summer meals and avoid that corporate garbage.
Chef Bill’s Korean Short Ribs Marinade
• 3 ounces soy sauce
• 3/4 cup brown sugar
• 2 ounces mirin
• 1 tbsp. sesame oil
• 1 tbsp. black pepper
• 1/2 tsp. Korean chili powder
• 1 onion, julienned
• 8 garlic cloves, smashed
• 1 Asian pear, peeled, seeded and sliced
• 2 tbsp. ginger, peeled and sliced
• 1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1. Puree all ingredients, mix with the ribs.
2. Refrigerate at least 24 hours and up to two days.
Email Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Fernandina’s Amelia Island Culinary Academy, at email@example.com, for inspiration and to get Cheffed-Up!