Friday night Mike and Claudia, our favorite celebrities, came over, but this time Mike cooked for us. It had been suggested by my wife that some Korean barbecue might be in order, since she had seen him make it on Bourdain’s TV show (he loaned us the DVD) and couldn’t shake the craving. (If you watch the Hudson Valley episode, you can see it too, as well as Mike’s then 10-year-old daughter completely pwning Bourdain while Ruhlman looks on, laughing). Good times.
So I picked up some short ribs from Fleisher’s and they brought the rest: shiso, sticky rice, denjang, gochujang, wine, sake, and a case of young coconuts for drinking. First up, after the coconuts, sticky rice rolled in shiso with the two pastes. Claudia made them, and they are a very addictive appetizer indeed. Here she is pretending to have a good time:
Next, Mike broke down the short ribs into thin slices, kindly saving both fat and bones for me to play with later. I had sharpened all our knives that afternoon, but he only gave me a C for the job I did. In my defense, Milo broke my sharpening stone last year, so it’s harder than it should be. Never underestimate the “my kid ate it” excuse. Also, I’m lazy.
He whisked together a marinade using the pastes, fish sauce, scallions, sesame seeds, and probably some other things I didn’t notice. Yuzu juice I think. So I pretty much failed this part. I blame Claudia, who was throwing paper airplanes and spitballs at me the whole time.
He also made some quick pickles: daikon kneaded with salt, asparagus with red radishes, and a wonderful salad of shredded scallions. We picked some fresh pea shoots, and a green salad for which he made a pretty insane dressing from preserved yuzu, ginger, walnut oil, and Indonesian long pepper. I got much geeky gratification from his delight that I have such things as preserved yuzu and long pepper on hand. My one A of the night. Claudia just kept making dick jokes.
Then we headed out to the screen porch where the shichirin was hot and ready. Armed with shiso leaves, we grilled the meat to rare-ish, then assembled all manner of variations inside the leaves. Grilled meat with pickles and salty, spicy pastes are such a winning combination, and when made at this level, with this quality ingredient, the result was something very special.
Then he did most of the dishes and took the whole stove apart, reprimanding me for not cleaning it that way every night. My wife thought that was better than dessert.