When I first started cooking with Hawkins, I would declare a given night out of the week to be “Steak Night,” and we would look forward to a tasty treat, usually at the end of a rough day.
Last Thursday was a grueling day, starting with early morning meetings, plenty of news in the day, and a late day meeting to finish. What a great night for steak night, if there ever was.
The night before, Hawkins and I got the ball rolling by buying our steaks. This time out, we picked New York strips. I like ribeyes best, but he is a strip-steak fan and bought the meat for us. I never have been satisfied with plain teriyaki marinades, so I doctor them extensively.
The trick to infuse a steak with extra flavor is to marinate it for about 24 hours, what I call “the long soak.” Teriyaki is a compound word in Japanese of teri, meaning “shiny,” and yaki, which means grilled. The marinade gives the meat a sort of shine. Put your steaks in a sealable bag and add a half-cup of teriyaki sauce, a quarter cup of soy sauce, two tablespoons of rice wine, one tablespoon of garlic and a half-teaspoon of ground ginger. The secret to my teriyaki is a non-traditional ingredient, pineapple juice. If you have a can, add a quarter cup, or the juice from one eight-ounce can of pineapple chunks. If you use the canned pineapple, take half of the contents and add it to the marinade to cook with the steaks. The marinade works well with chicken, too.
Grilling steak is something that everyone feels differently about. I think the best flavor comes from charcoal, but if you have a gas grill, or prefer it to charcoal, be my guest. Hawkins and I like our steaks medium rare. With a strip steak, take a second to cut the line of fat at the edge with a knife to prevent curling. Let the coals in the fire burn to an even grey, with bright red edges for an even heat, and a better flavor in the meat. Our steaks were probably about eight ounces, and less than an inch thick. We cooked them for about four minutes per side. Thicker steaks, different grills and fire size change the times for cooking outside. My only advice is to get to know YOUR grill, find the hot and cool spots and experiment a little. New grills and new meats take a little time to get used to.
We put the pineapple onto a skewer and grilled it off the direct heat of the fire. It complimented the meat as a nice side dish.
I usually serve teriyaki with what I call “Spooky Fried Rice.” It’s not particularly frightening, I just branded it with my nickname, Spooky (an X-Files reference.) Steam a cup of rice to begin the recipe. As usual, I use brown rice, but white rice is traditional. In Japan, brown rice is considered to be low quality. I like the flavor and appreciate the health benefits of brown rice.
After your rice is steamed, set it aside. Scramble one egg and cook it in a small skillet. We’ll save it for what comes next. Take a large skillet or wok and add a tablespoon of oil. Sauté one-half of a diced onion and a teaspoon of garlic until translucent. Fried rice is almost like a potluck. If you have spare veggies in your refrigerator, carrots, green onions, frozen peas or corn- whatever you have. Add about a quarter cup of each and sauté until they begin to soften. Add the steamed rice and the egg at that point. For seasoning, add a quarter cup of soy sauce and blend well, stirring constantly until the rice begins to fry in the oil. A pinch or two of ginger adds an interesting flavor.
This meal goes well with stir-fried vegetables. To keep it simple, you can grab a bag of frozen vegetable mix and sauté it in a pan with a few dashes of soy and teriyaki sauce.
As I have said before, soy sauce is pretty salty. Be careful how much you add. If you want flavor with little salt, or have been prescribed a low sodium diet, look for low sodium soy sauce.
We started a movie before I had to go to a meeting, and resumed after I finished cooking. The name of the film was “The Last Kiss.” Though I always enjoy dinner and a film with Hawkins, I have to say this one depressed me to no end. I had to quit watching and went home with a half-hour or so left. The acting was fine, with Zack Braff, but it was not for me. I think it took Hawkins aback that I abandoned it so quickly. He agreed that it was somber, but stayed with it. The next morning, he said it was a good film, but I had no wish to return. Despite the downer of a film, dinner tasted great, and a good time was had by all. Good eating.