I've been searching for the perfect dinner-for-a-new-guy menu, but I fear my approach has been all wrong. There is no Perfect Dinner Date Meal. I think I knew that, but I've been mentally trying to force a cookie-cutter menu on a variety of unique individuals. I don't think they have noticed, but it's not working for me.
Please don't misunderstand, I'm not the "'Ho of Burnside," I've only made a few Dinner Date Meals. I'm just thinking out loud.
Cooking for friends goes beyond accounting for personal taste. My friend Hilary hates mushrooms. My neighbor Hugh won't eat Brussels Sprouts and is allergic to strawberries. Priscilla, my BFF and reliable +1 will eat anything. So far everyone loves macaroni and cheese -- especially my friend Lee (who is not above guilt-tripping me for it).
As for the fella's, Jason has a basic palate. He loved the pizza and chocolate mousse I made a few weeks ago -- but hated the chicken liver appetizer we shared a while back.
Jay has food issues while he's undergoing chemo so I understandably defer to his taste preferences. OK, I'm even going to eat (shudder) vegan cheese (on a pork-packed Sizzle Pie) this weekend.
New-guy-Spike is more adventurous so I'm making a Korean dish, beef bulgogi with kimchi. I'm sure he's had it before so I look forward to his input (insert double entendre here).
Beef Bulgogi and Kimchi
(Adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman, The New York Times, 6/5/11)
2 pounds rib eye or skirt steak (I'm using a flat iron because it was on sale, and it's delicious).
2 bunches scallion (divided use) 1 bunch roughly chopped for the marinate, one bunch cut on the bias as garnish
8 - 10 garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup soy sauce (reduced salt soy is OK) I prefer Hawaiian soy sauce.
ground pepper TT
Place rough chopped scallions, garlic, honey, soy, oil and pepper in a blender or food processor. Process/blend (adding water if needed) until smooth.
Trim and thinly (<1/4 inch) slice the beef.
Marinate the meat for 15 minutes to two hours.
Grill over hot coals until brown on the outside but still rare.
1 head butterleaf lettuce, leaves carefully washed
Gochujang (Korean bean paste) *
Serve with lettuce leaves, garnish with kimchi and gochujang.
(again adapted from Mark Bittman, ibid.)
Layer the leaves of one small green cabbage and a peeled, cubed (1/2 inch) daikon radish in a large bowl with <1/2 cup kosher salt. Brine until the cabbage is wilted, 1 to 2 hours. You may need to massage the leaves and/or weight them to allow the salt to work. Rinse thoroughly!! Roughly chop cabbage and toss with two bunches scallions (cut on the bias), 1/4 cup fish sauce, 1/4 cup minced garlic, 2 - 4 Tbsp sugar (I think I used 3), 1/4 cup minced garlic, 2 Tbsp minced ginger, and 2 Tbsp gochugaro (Korean chili powder). Use less if you need to sub chili flakes for the gochugaro.*
* Go to an Asian market for these spices. The depth of flavor that the gochugro adds is remarkable. No, the individual spices aren't easy to find -- I had to ask for help after wandering around for 45 minutes -- but it's worth it.
I (heart) cooking +
I (heart) boys.