At high summer it is all too easy to be pulled into a rhythm of cooking and eating that draws on the simple and satisfying flavours of the Mediterranean. Local, fresh produce, often harvested from our own front yard, are very comfortable when gently cooked and finished with a good olive oil, dried chilli, thyme, parsley, garlic and lemon. Less is more at this time of the year.
However, there is a whole world out there and sometimes it is good to bring a bit more vibrancy to the plate, especially as the August sky changes and the evenings cool slightly. Intensifying the flavours, and bringing heat, sweet, salty, and sour flavours to the dinner hour, can make the entire day seem more interesting.
Grilled Garden Veg with a Vibrant Thai Dressing
A collection of grilled vegetables were dressed with bold Thai flavours. I trimmed and grilled the veg on a charcoal grill and dressed them with a vibrant Thai flavoured mixture of fish sauce, palm sugar, ginger, and garlic. It turned out exceptionally well and brought new life to the garden veg at hand. For a full account of this method see Bon Appetit’s recipe. Our corn was not ready, so we used zucchini, green and yellow beans, and a collection of fennel fronds, basil, and mint. All was finished with a healthy squeeze of lime.
Gochujang Marinated Pork Shoulder Chops with Carrot Cilantro Salad
Gochujang is a deeply flavour, almost smoky and pleasantly intense chilli paste. Two pork shoulder chops were marinated briefly in a vibrant marinade of two heaping dessert spoonfulls of Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), one of honey, a drizzle of sake and rice wine vinegar, a thumb size piece of grated ginger, and a grinding of pepper. Then it was grilled over charcoal at a medium high heat.
The salad is very thinly sliced garden carrot, fish sauce, palm sugar, honey, rice wine vinegar (enough to make it sing), and loads of fresh cilantro, mint, and fennel. This would be even more interesting had I planted multi-coloured carrots this year.
Superb. Satisfying. Can’t get enough.