Excerpt: 'The Asian Grill'

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Karen Grigsby Bates recommends The Asian Grill by Corinne Trang in her annual summer roundup of book choices for Day to Day.

Spicy Thai Basil-and Lime-Marinated Jumbo Shrimp

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Jumbo black (sometimes called "blue") tiger shrimp are meaty, sweet, and firm and perfect for grilling. Generally, I buy them "Asian style," meaning whole, with the heads still on, because the heads are full of sweet tomalley and roe. (Guests can eat or dispense with the heads as they please, but the whole shrimp make for a nice presentation.) The marinade combines Thai basil and lime with a base of fish sauce and sugar. Tiger shrimp are particularly good with this marinade, their sweet flavor and firm texture holding up to the bold flavors. You can slice and toss the shrimp and vegetables in a big bowl and serve the ingredients like a salad, too. The marinade in all its forms is well suited for other seafood, including scallops, lobster tails, squid, and fish steaks.

Serves 6 or more

24 jumbo tiger shrimp (about 10 per pound) deveined

1/4 cup fish sauce

1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice

1/4 cup palm sugar or granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large garlic clove, finely grated

1/4 cup packed fresh Thai basil, mint, or cilantro leaves, minced

1 to 2 fresh red Thai chili, stemmed, seeded, and minced

Using a paring knife, cut, through the back shell of each shrimp. Remove the dark vein. Run your forefinger between the shell and the flesh of each shrimp, separating but not removing the shell from the flesh.

In a large bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, lime or lemon juice, and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the oil, garlic, basil or cilantro, and chili. If you wish, pour the marinade in a blender and pulse until smooth.

Place the shrimp and marinade in a resealable gallon plastic bag. Squeezing out the air, seal the bag. Holding on to the two ends, shake the bag to coat the pieces evenly with the marinade. Refrigerate for 4 hours, turning the bag over every 30 minutes or so to redistribute the marinade.

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill to 500°F (high). Grill the shrimp, turning them frequently to prevent burning, until evenly pink and golden on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes.

Miso-Marinated Sirloin

In this dish, inspired by Hiroko Shimbo, a well-known Japanese chef and author, red miso paste is used to marinate a sirloin steak. The fragrant leafy herb known as shiso, or perilla leaf, adds a mild mustardlike spicy note that is particularly well suited to beef. While the marinade is bold, it transforms itself when the meat is grilled, becoming subtle, with sweet, salty, and nutty flavor notes. This dish is wonderful served with fresh leafy greens, or with Grilled Vegetables tossed in Miso-Ginger Dressing.

Serves 6 or more

1/2 cup aka-miso (red miso)

1/3 cup mirin (sweet sake)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 garlic clove, finely grated

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sake

8 fresh shiso leaves, minced

3 pounds 1-inch-thick sirloin steak, cut into 8 pieces

In a small bowl, whisk together the aka-miso, mirin, and sugar until smooth. Stir in the garlic, vegetable oil, sake, and shiso.

Put the meat and marinade in a resealable gallon plastic bag. Squeezing out the air, seal the bag. Holding on to the ends, shake the bag to coat the pieces evenly with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 6 or up to 24 hours, turning the bag every hour or so to redistribute the marinade.

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill to 500°F (high). Grill the steaks about 7 minutes for medium-rare, turning once.

Adapted from The Asian Grill by Corinne Trang. Copyright © 2006, Corinne Trang. Reprinted by permission of Chronicle Books. All rights reserved.

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