Planet Barbecue offers truly interesting ways to cook everything from meat to vegetables, and it is the perfect book for someone who wants to explore the local Asian grocery stores but doesn't know what to buy.
Any of Raichlen's Asian recipes are a fine starting point because he proposes authentic ingredients that you can find easily -- chicken flavored with lemongrass or fish sauce, pork belly cooked with Korean chili paste, rice vinegar and an Asian pear. But I started with fish. Whole fish are still a challenge for me, and Raichlen proposed a Loatian recipe that called for small snappers, oyster sauce, garlic and lime.
Let Planet Barbecue be your inspiration to belly up to H Mart food counter and ask for a whole fish. They'll remove the scales, fins, guts and tail. Leave the head. Whole fish cook up moister than fillets, plus you can try all kinds of species -- snappers, trout, kingfish, grouper. Your first attempts won't be elegant. I'm certainly still suffering from skin that sticks or fillets that shred as I remove them from the bone. The benefit is flavor, especially when they're paired with an inspriation like Raichlen's enotake muchrooms wrapped in bacon.
Enotake (as called "enoki") are a perfect starter to try an Asian grocery. They're thin, small mushrooms, dozens of tiny caps growing from a thick block of mushroom that holds them together. Completely unique if you only shop at Giant. Completely affordable at $2-3 each. Raichlen cuts the clusters into one-ounce chunks, then wraps each in bacon. It looks exotic. It tastes delicious, and bacon and mild mushrooms should be accessible to your most meat-and-potato friend.
Grilled Fish And Enotake Mushrooms
From Planet Barbecue
Note: Raichlen suggests a simple technique for whole fish Get the book or find your own recipe on the Web, and you'll find terrific fish at the Asian grocery stores -- especially at my favorite, the H Mart in Catonsville. Pick your fish, and they'll remove the tail, scales, fins and guts. Keep the head. While you're there, look for enotake mushrooms in the produce section.
Four ounces of enotake mushroom, cut into one-ounce clusters
Four slices of bacon
1) Cut most of the spongy base off each cluter of enotakes, leaving enough intact to hold the mushrooms together. Wrap each cluster crosswise with a slice of bacon, tying it in place with a piece of butcher string or pinning it in place with a toothpick.
2) Set up the grill for direct drilling and preheat it to medium-high. Keep one part of the grill fire-free for a safety zone.
3) Brush oil on the grill grate. Arrange the enotakes on the hot grate and grill them until the bacon and mushrooms are browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side, 8 to 12 minutes total. Turn them with tongs. If the bacon fat drips and creates a flare, move the mushrooms to another section of the grill.
4) Transfer the grilled enotakes to a platter. Snip off the string or pull out the toothpick. Discard them and serve the mushrooms at once.
Tomorrow, I'll post about lamb kabobs and the Middle Eastern markets. For more about mushrooms, check out my prior post where I wrote about the same fungus under the name "enoki" mushrooms. For more about Asian foods, check out my post about Asian grocery stores. Or check out posts about all of the cookbooks that I have recommended.