Next week is July 4, Independence Day, that most American of holidays. To mark the occasion, this week's #SundaySupper theme is celebrating with family and friends. To me, a summer celebration is incomplete if you don't fire up the grill. What can I say? I love the grill. I loved the flavor of the smoke; I love how elemental and self-sufficient it is.
Grilling is also how I remember the most festive celebrations of my childhood. In the white light of summer, my cousin and I would run around in the woods until the call floated through the cool twilight air, "Dinner's ready!" My mother's signature dish was always chicken or beef satays served with peanut sauce. All the cooks in my family wanted her recipe, but she still keeps it a secret to this day.
In part to honor that treasured memory and my mom and in part to try and swipe that dish (sorry mom), I decided to try to re-create something like her satays and peanut sauce. And I think I've succeeded pretty well. I used pork instead of chicken or beef (because most of the meat I eat comes from Haskins Family Farm, who sell mainly pork and chicken), and I served it with some grilled corn and a super-simple salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and vinegar instead of a baked potato with sour cream, but I stayed true to the memory of family festivities.
Although the meal has a distinctly Asian flavor, it celebrates the history of America by highlighting some New World ingredients, such as peanuts, and showcasing how they incorporated themselves seamlessly into dishes from faraway lands. Other ingredients that have become pillars of Old World cuisines but originated here in the Americas are tomatoes and peppers. How much more American can it get to celebrate a gracious and delicious expression of the melting pot?
For this dish, you will need some wooden skewers (which you can get at most grocery stores). To minimize burning them, soak them in water for at least an hour before you thread the meat on them. Also, be prepared to get your hands messy. It's just that kind of dish.
FOR THE MARINADE
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 rice wine
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 Tbsps honey
- 1 tsp dried ginger (or 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped, if you have it)
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2-3 lbs pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 16-oz can light unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1 shallot, chopped finely
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tsps vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- salt to taste
- chopped chives or green onions (optional)
- Combine the marinade ingredients with the meat in a ziplock bag. Push as much of the air out of the bag as possible. Place the bag in a bowl or on a plate and refrigerate for at least six hours up to 24. Flip the bag a few times while it's marinating.
- About two hours before you plan to grill the meat, grab a handful of skewers and soak them in water. (Don't worry about using too many; you can re-use the ones you didn't use, just let them dry out a bit.)
- About an hour before grilling, get the meat out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature (or thereabouts).
- Start your grill. You will be using pretty high, direct heat for this dish.
- Thread the meat cubes onto the skewers (about eight cubes per stick).
- While you wait for the grill to come up to temp, make the peanut sauce. In small sauce pan, heat the vegetable and add the shallots. Let them brown a bit.
- Add the coconut milk to the pan. Mix in the peanut butter, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, and salt. As it cooks, it will thicken a bit. Keep it warm.
- Grill the satays, turning them about a quarter turn every two to three minutes.
- Serve the satays with the peanut sauce, sprinkle some chives or green onions on top.
Fabulous Pairings by Martin from ENOFYLZ