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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Luster Grill

You could marinate, baste, and grill a piece of cardboard with teriyaki sauce and I would devour it.  I love the yin-yang qualities of sweet and salty teryiaki.  In Japanese cuisine, teriyaki refers to a method of cooking as well as to the sauce.  Teri refers to luster in Japanese while yaki means to grill.  The sugars in the sauce create the luster on the food as it caramelizes over the grill.  Since teriyaki sauce is made from fermented soy beans, it also provides an umami taste sensation to the grilled food.  The fifith sense, umami,  is the unkown flavor enhancer that makes things taste fabulous without us ever knowing why.  We recognize bitter, sweet, sour, and salty, but umami just is.  It floats through the food and enhances the flavor  that we experience while eating. The amino acids or glutamates that exist in certain foods or exist from the fermentation of certain foods touch our tongues in much different ways than the four regular taste senses.  Umami rounds everything out.  Before the culinary world and home cooks embraced umami and understood that certain foods naturally carry the mystery flavor enhancer, they relied on MSG or Monosodium Glutamate.  Think Ac'cent.

Teriyaki is made from fermented soy beans (soy sauce), mirin, and sugar.  The perfect sauce.

What could be simpler and tastier than organic chicken marinated in a delicious well  made teriyaki sauce and grilled over high heat to turn the sugar in to salt candy?

Last night I did just that.  I marinated skewered chicken, roma tomatoes , and green peppers for several hours until they were stained a beautiful dark brown.

After heating a cast iron grill pan until screaming hot and smoking, I smacked the skewers onto the grill in a blazing sizzle.  I let them almost char to achieve mouthwatering grill marks, turning them several  times to cook through.

While they were grilling, I took leftover carryout rice from the freezer and sauteed it in olive oil with chives and green peas.  I whipped two eggs with  toasted sesame oil, pushed the fried rice to one side of the pan, and scrambled the eggs on the other.  Once the eggs were set,  I mixed the rice with the eggs, plated it, and topped it off with the skewered teriyaki chicken and vegetables.  I didn't have any scallions, so I simply threw fresh cut chives over all of it and served garlic chili sauce to the side for fiery heat.

The chicken was tender and moist with a sticky sweet  umami char that paired nicely with the soft acidity of the broken down tomatoes.  The green peppers, still crisp and sugary brown, burst with pepper juice when eaten.  Palate cleansing.  The rice bed provided balance as a sauce soaker while  the chili sauce cut through any cloying sweetness with its vinegary heat. Pungent bitter chive straws snapped with freshness to finished it off and complete the sensory taste wheel.

Luscious.  Luster.  Grill.

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