Asian BBQ & Grilling w/ Corinne Trang: Part 1

Corinne Trang

Corinne Trang is an award-winning cookbook author, Asian food historian, radio and TV personality. Lucky for us, she also recently moved to Westport. She is very serious about her BBQ…Asian BBQ that is, and she will be sharing her grill tips and recipes with us all summer. Here is her first installment including recipes for Five-Spice Soy Sauce Marinade, Grilled Bok Choy, and Mushroom Fried-Rice with Shitakes.

I’m excited that grilling season is finally here. For me, it marks the end of a harsh Winter and wet Spring, and the beginning of the bright hot Summer ahead. It also means firing up the grill just about everyday from now until Fall.

I think it’s fair to say that BBQ is all the rage these days. It’s been in the news for the last several years in a big way, and touted as a culinary tradition that can be as complex and refined as French or Chinese cooking, for example. I’ve tasted, seen, and engaged in lively and passionate conversations, and agree that barbecue is no small subject with regional variations to satisfy just about any palate.

For well over a decade, I’ve grilled on Weber’s classic charcoal kettles including the One Touch Gold and Ranch, which I used to test the recipes in my cookbook, The Asian Grill (Chronicle Books, 2006). 

This weekend I’m grilling on The Performer for the first time. It’s similar to the 22.5-inch One Touch Gold kettle in construction, but features Weber’s signature “Touch-N-Go” ignition system, which requires no lighting fluid. A bit apprehensive at first about connecting the propane tank to the gas connection, I am surprised at how easy it is to install. Tight fitted, it’s perfectly safe not to mention convenient, with the charcoal lighting up in less than 5 minutes, and gray ash appearing in just 15 minutes more. It’s fast, if not faster than using my favorite chimney, and I only had to fill each baskets three quarters of the way with charcoal to cook a meal “serves 4 to 6.”

So here I am on the Friday night of this long holiday weekend, with Kingsford Charcoal Briquets (efficient and long lasting, you only need a few) burning hot in the baskets pushed off to the sides of the kettle, I start the drumsticks over direct heat to crisp them lightly, then move them to the center for some indirect heat action. Put the cover down to enhance the flavor of this soy-sauce ginger, and five-spice-marinated chicken, I’m now staring at the bok choy on my kitchen counter thinking, “grill them…” and I do using a vegetable basket. Seasoned lightly with sesame oil, salt and pepper, I serve the bright green, crunchy and tender leaves along with mushroom fried rice as sides. Check out the recipes below:

Five-Spice Soy Sauce Marinade

(excellent for chicken, beef, pork, duck, venison, buffalo, and ostrich. You can also include 1 teaspoon per 6-ounce burger…just mix it into the meat and shape the patty.)

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup palm sugar (or regular sugar)

1 ounce ginger, finely grated (about 1-inch piece)

1 large garlic clove, finely grated

1 scallion, trimmed and minced

2 Thai chilies, seeded and minced

1 teaspoon five-spice powder

1) In a bowl, whisk the soy sauce and sugar, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the ginger, garlic, scallion, chilies, and five-spice powder.

2) With a fork, poke holes all over the drumsticks. Add to the marinade, tossing every 10 minutes for 30 minutes.

3) Place on the grill directly over the charcoal for 5 minutes, turning the pieces often so as not to burn them. Then move them away from the charcoal, to continue over indirect heat until the juices run clear, about 15 minutes more.

Grilled Bok Choy

(Use both white and green stem, the latter also know as “Shanghainese” bok choy.)

1-1/2 pounds baby bok choy, or other leafy greens

2 teaspoons grapeseed oil

2 teaspoons sesame oil

salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, toss the bok choy with oils and salt and pepper. Transfer to the Weber Vegetable Bastket and place on the grill directly over the charcoal. Stir-fry as you would in a wok, so as not to burn the vegetables. Cook until tender yet firm, about 10 minutes.

Mushroom Fried-Rice with Shitakes

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 large garlic clove, minced

4 large dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in water until soft, stems removed, and caps julienned

3 cups cooked brown jasmine rice

In a large skillet or wok over high heat, add the oil and stir-fry the garlic and mushroom until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and continue to stir-fry until hot. Serve with grilled vegetables and marinated chicken.

…and there you have it, a delicious first dinner grilled on my favorite equipment.