The Food Freak

Cooking, dining, and appreciating food through the written word. A young West-Coast food-lover has been displaced to numerous small towns and cities on the East Coast; in New Jersey, New England, and now the Hudson Valley. This is his story.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

An experiment for a Friday night

The Hudson Valley has no large asian supermarket as far as I can see. This means, among other things, no jars of Korean BBQ sauce in my pantry, a staple in my home for quick 30-minute, no-thought meals. I just throw any piece of meat I can find from the fridge or freezer (most likely some form of dark-meat chicken or lean pork chop) into a saute pan with a healthy dose of Korean BBQ sauce, cover and braise in the oven, with white rice and a steamed leafy vegetable, and I have a flavorful meal with 10 minutes work and 20 minutes cooking time. As you see, the lack of an asian supermarket trickles down to being a serious problem of daily life, leading to more time cooking, and possibly affecting everything from work productivity to daily stress. This is one of the Food Freak's main anxieties.

The essense of BBQ sauce is the combination of sweet, savory, and spice. Americans use salt separately from their sauces, and use the sugars for color and caramelization. Their sauces tend to be tangy, using the acid to balance the enormous amounts of sugar that are common to everything American. Asian BBQ sauces emphasize savoriness and spice more than sweetness. Asians tend to use soy for flavor and color and lighter fruit juices for sweetness, although small amounts of brown sugar are common. A good Korean BBQ sauce uses Korean pear juice (those large round pears that look like pale-green apples), is never too salty, and has a healthy amount of garlic and ginger chunks. Differences in the ratios of soy to herbs/spices to pear juice will render different sauces for different meats. The Koreans have perfected the right combinations for beef, which differ from the right combination for pork, which differ from chicken. I myself found a sauce I thought was useful for all kinds of meats, including salmon and white fish.

Which brings me to my point. Not having any Korean BBQ sauce has forced me to think creatively. Soy is available everywhere. Using the good Tamari I have in my fridge, I am going to try to make myself a small batch of all-purpose Asian BBQ sauce using what I know about good Asian sauces. I will try to find pear juice or pear nectar, but if I can't find it, a good apple juice will have do. At first, I will try equal parts chopped garlic, to chopped ginger, to chopped shallots, and a splash of rice wine vinegar for a little acidity. Cooked together with the tamari and reduced to at least a half, I will see what I come up with. I am sure I will need to add water and corn starch, but let's see how things work for now.

I am sure that, after a good amount of experimentation, I will be able to concoct something useful. Once I do that, its all a matter of jaring, freezing, and then plenty more 30-minute dinners! If I discover something exceptionally good, I will post it here.


Anonymous athina said...

There is quite the Asian market if you head south on route 9. It is a small shack, by itself on your right-

Kabayan Oriental Grocery
2904 Route 9
Fishkill, NY 12525
Description: Oriental Grocery
They seemed to have a wide array of asian pantry items, as well as frozen seafood that I was a bit wary of. But you can't go wrong with the dried/packaged/bottled goods.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Raniya Sheikh said...

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9:25 AM  

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