Monday, November 19, 2007

Spicy Grilled Veal with Cauliflower Greens

This started as a recipe for dwaeji galbi - spicy pork ribs - from Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee's cookbook, Eating Korean. It is a delightful introduction to Korean cuisine filled with history, tradition and family stories that bring Korean culture to life.

This particular recipe was one that Cecilia enjoyed at a campfire when she was young. Although the original called for pork, I thought it would be tasty with the grass-fed veal cutlet I'd had in the freezer for months. Who ever heard of veal standing in for pork?

Spicy Grilled Veal

1-2 lbs. veal cutlets (about 1/2 inch thick) - but feel free to substitute any other meat, seafood or grillable vegetables! Cooking is all about experimenting and I can't wait to try this marinade on other canvasses.
1 Tbs minced ginger
2 minced garlic cloves
1/3 cup red pepper paste or chili paste (I used a Korean import from T.UP. Trading Inc, which I chose for its four simple ingredients: red pepper, sweet rice, water, salt. I find that when buying unfamiliar condiments it's worth the extra dollar to get the best quality. This one was $7 for a kilo.)
2 Tbs brown rice syrup
2 Tbs Muscovado, not packed
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs sesame oil

Mix all ingredients and marinate veal for at least 3 hours. I prepared mine on Sunday morning and cooked it Monday night. I let it sit at room temperature for about a half hour while I preheated a cast-iron grill pan in a 300 degree oven. I greased the pan with organic lard (America's favorite pre-Crisco cooking oil), then plopped the marinated cutlet on top. I baked it for about ten minutes, then turned off the heat and opened the oven door. After letting it sit for another ten minutes to let the juices redistribute, I sliced it into neat diagonal half-inch strips.

While the veal was resting, I steamed the cauliflower greens. I've been getting this amazing organic cauliflower from the farmers' market lately, but for each head of cauliflower, very little of it is actually floret. The same is true for broccoli. I saved about two cups of the greens and stems, sliced them into half-inch chunks, and steamed them with a tablespoon of the spicy marinade. After draining them, I tossed in a little pat of butter. Local organic vegetables, especially from this particular Amish farmer, have so much more flavor than the conventional versions they shouldn't even be called by the same name. I am heartbroken that my vegetable vendor will not be back until May. Organic foods from faraway countries like Chile and New Zealand just aren't the same.

The spicy grilled veal was reminiscent of Chinese char siu (roast pork) in flavor, color and texture. Faintly sweet, salty, with a pleasant balance of soy, sesame, ginger and garlic. The spiciness is indescribable. It excites the other flavors without overpowering. This marinade/sauce would be delicious with scrambled eggs, fried rice, pizza...just about anything! I would be delighted to use it again and again.

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