Weekly Winner:  Seriously Spiced Steak and One Crazy Korean Pasta Salad

You can’t go wrong putting a marinated flank steak on the grill, right?  I mean, you can pretty much marinate it in anything, throw it on a hot grill and you’re going to have a great meal (and hopefully leftovers afterward).  And pasta salad is a very common accompaniment to anything on the grill.  It’s a barbecue staple.  This pasta salad, however is the craziest version I’ve ever put together. There were things in this salad that I never could have imagined putting together in any kind of dish.  I mean, squash, pineapple, and …. peas???  With mayonnaise?  But you know what?  It worked!

Gochujang Flank Steak and Korean Pasta Salad is not for people with timid taste buds.  The steak has some nice subtle heat, but the pasta salad is very spicy. That’s where the pineapple and mayonnaise really works their magic to help cool down the fire in your mouth. But its an addictive heat and can be mitigated by using less gochujang (which I actually might do next time).

The recipe comes from Food & Wine, and if you really want to shake up your next cookout and spice things up a bit, this is your recipe. The recipe calls for cooking the flank steak in a skillet on the stove. That seems sacrilegious to me.  Fire up the grill and let that thing rip!

Gochujang Flank Steak and Korean Pasta Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

STEAK:

6 Tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)

3 Tbsp mirin

1 Tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

4 garlic cloves

1 Tbsp chopped peeled fresh ginger

1 2-lb flank steak

1 Tbsp canola oil

PASTA SALAD:

1 lb fusilli

1 cup mayonnaise

3 Tbsp gochujang

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise

1 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise

1 8-inch long slice of pineapple (from 1 peeled, quartered and cored whole pineapple)

1 Tbsp canola oil

1 cup thawed frozen peas

3 scallions, thinly sliced

Kosher salt

Procedure:

  1. Make the Steak – In a blender, puree the gochujang with the mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger until smooth.  Put the flank steak in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours.  Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, make the Pasta Salad –In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the fusilli until al dente.  Drain and rinse under cold water until cool; drain well.  In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the gochujang and lime juice until smooth.  Fold in the fusilli.
  3. Heat a large cast-iron skillet.  Lightly brush the zucchini, squash and pineapple with 1 tablespoon of the oil and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until charred and tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a work surface and let cool.  Cut the vegetables and fruit into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the pasta.  Fold in the peas and scallions and season with salt.
  4. Grill the Steak – Remove the steak from the marinade, letting the excess drip off, and grill over a moderately high heat, turning once until desired degree of doneness
  5. Transfer the steak to a work surface and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice steak and serve with the pasta salad.

Weekly Winner:  This Little Piggy Went to Korea – and the possibilities became endless

Every once in a while a recipe really surprises me.  I’ll pull it because I think it sounds tasty (obviously, otherwise why bother?) and interesting in some way but when it all comes together at the dinner table, I’m pleasantly surprised.  That’s exactly what happened with Korean-Style Pork and Rice.

I’m a big fan of gochujang, and my love for pork knows no bounds, but somehow while I was reading through this gem of a dinner, I totally underestimated the results.  I thought it would taste good.  I knew it would be quick, easy and make a nice mid-week meal, but Wow!!  This blew me away!  It was spicy, tangy, savory, fresh and comforting all nestled in a big bowl of happiness.

Almost immediately, my husband and I started thinking of all the spins we could put on this pork preparation.  While it’s perfectly scrumptious as is… what about Korean Pork Sloppy Joes?  Korean Queso Fundido (swapping the chorizo for this)?  Korean Pork Tacos or Burritos?  The possibilities are truly endless.  But rest assured, you’ll read about it all here when it happens.

The original version comes from Cooking Light Magazine.  The only change I made (besides, obviously omitting the cilantro) was to use some leftover brown rice that I had made the day before for something else. Go ahead and use the precooked brown rice it calls for … I won’t judge.  I’ve definitely been known to reach for that in a pinch.

Korean-Style Pork and Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

12 oz. lean ground pork

3/4 cup finely chopped white onion

3/4 cup finely chopped green onions, divided

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/3 cup water

2 Tbsp gochujang sauce

2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 (8.8 oz) pkg. precooked brown rice

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

4 lime wedges

Procedure:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add pork; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.  Add white onion, 1/4 cup green onions, and garlic; cook 4 minutes.  Add 1/3 cup water; cook 1 minute,scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
  2. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/2 cup green onions, gochujang, soy sauce, and brown sugar.
  3. Heat rice according to directions
  4. Place 1/2 cup pork mixture and 3/4 cup rice in each of 4 bowls; top with vinegar, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Weekly Winner:  Best. Meatloaf. Ever.

I may have mentioned that when I was younger I was never a big meatloaf fan.  Didn’t mind it, but never sought it out.  I’d almost always would rather have a hamburger or something with meatballs.  A big loaf of meat just wasn’t my thing.  But apparently, with age comes wisdom.  I find that now I have joined the “pro-meatloaf” team.  I’m sure part of the reason is that I have been asked by various clients to make meatloaves for them so I’m always anxious to try out a new recipe.

Which is exactly what happened last night.  I found this recipe for Gochujang Glazed Meatloaf and thought it sounded tasty. The few things I have made using gochujang (Korean Chili Paste) I have really liked.  The problem was, to properly test the recipe I felt like I should make the whole thing.  That’s a lot of meatloaf for two people and I didn’t really want a bunch of leftovers.  That’s when it’s nice to have friends you can call up and say “hey, feel like being my guinea pigs for the evening?”.  I know they are big fans of meatloaf and always like spice, so this seemed like a perfect fit.

Not only was it a hit, it was without a doubt, the best meatloaf I’ve made to date.  Truly.  I had every intention of taking a picture of it as it came out of the oven or after it was sliced but it just disappeared! So I must rely on the magazine’s picture (which is far more artistic than mine would have been) but trust me when I say, mine looked exactly like this (before it was devoured).

The recipe for Gochujang Glazed Meatloaf comes from Good Housekeeping.  If you are leery of heat, don’t worry, this isn’t a super hot recipe.  It’s just enough of a kick to make it far more interesting than your typical ketchup-brown sugar glaze.  I must admit I was a bit skeptical about only using 6 saltine crackers as a binder for two pounds of meat, but it worked.  Beautifully.

Gochujang Glazed Meatloaf

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef

1 lb. ground pork

1 small onion, grated

6 saltines, finely crushed

1/2 c. packed fresh mint, chopped

5 tbsp. gochujang, divided

1 large egg

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. ketchup

Directions

Mix beef, pork, onion, saltines, mint, 3 tablespoons gochujang, egg, and salt.

Mold into loaf on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in 425F degree oven for 25 minutes.

Stir together ketchup and remaining gochujang; brush over meatloaf. Bake 30 minutes or until cooked through (160 degrees F).


Weekly Winner: Seeing Summer Out With an Amazing Slab of Pig

IMG_0461.JPGIt just seemed fitting to celebrate Labor Day with throwing something on the grill.  After all, it is how we welcome in summer, how we cook most of the summer, and how we say goodby to it.  When in doubt, we tend to throw something on the grill.  And in this household, if you’re going to bother to fire up the grill, it’s a pretty safe bet that pork will be involved.

The only real question this Labor Day weekend was, what to grill?  Ribs are a safe bet.  Always tasty and always a hit.  For just the two of us, the go-to cut is bone-in pork chops (as has been well documented in this blog.)  But in both of those cases, there’s no adventure to it.  We’ve been there and we’ve done that again… and again… and again.

So for this Labor Day Eve when we found ourselves in need of a Sunday Supper and a suitable celebratory meal welcome in Labor Day, I thought it would be the perfect time to give this little number a try.  Gochujang Pork Shoulder Steaks.  The recipe comes from Bon Appetit and intrigued me for a number of reasons.  First of all: pork shoulder.  For my money it is the best part of my beloved pig (well, maybe bacon is, but I digress).   Secondly: Gochujang.  I have just recently discovered this wonderful sauce.  It is a Korean hot pepper paste and it is perfectly spiced.  Its got heat, but will not overwhelm.  It also has a gorgeous red color that turns everything it touches to a burnished red loveliness.

Now for a word on the two different photos.  The top one is the one from Bon Appetit.  That picture also had a lot to do with me pulling the recipe.  It is gorgeous.  The lower one was our final result.  Not as gorgeous, but dang, was it good!

Gochujang Pork Shoulder Steaks

Ingredients:

8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 2” piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

½ cup dry sake

½ cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)

½ cup mirin

¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for grilling

1 ½ lb skinless, boneless pork shoulder, sliced ¾” thick

Procedure:

Puree garlic, ginger, sake, gochujang, mirin and ¼ cup oil in a blender. Set ¼ cup marinade aside; chill. Transfer remaining marinade to a large dish. Add pork; turn to coat. Chill, turning occasionally, at least 2 hours.

Prepare grill for medium-high heat; oil grate. Remove pork from marinade and grill, basting with reserved marinade, turning occasionally, and moving pork to a cooler area if flare-up occurs, until cooked to desired doneness, 20 minutes for medium.

Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain.

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