The supermarket ads this week scream “Grill, grill, grill!” It’s our American way of saying farewell to summer, and there are many options for doing so. Even in California, where we can cook outdoors practically all year round, Labor Day weekend still calls for grilling up a storm.
At my house, much of what we grill up is Asian-inflected. I’ve written lots of grilling recipes in my cookbooks and there are more at Viet World Kitchen. Here’s a collection of Vietnamese and Thai ideas to get you going, either now or later, to savor or extend summer.
Viet Restaurant-Style Lemongrass Pork – I never tire of this recipe. It’s sweet, salty, and delicious. You can use the marinade on chicken, too.
Grilled Goat Chops with Lemongrass and Galangal – Goat is the lamb in Vietnam, which means you can totally use these seasonings on lamb! Use them for ground lamb patties or lamb kebabs. Lemongrass and galangal are fabulous pals.
Grilled Shrimp on Sugarcane - A Vietnamese classic and favorite. If you can’t find sugarcane, substitute lemongrass stalks.
Grilled Beef in Betel Leaf - Wild betel leaf (la lot) is related to pepper, and gives off a remarkable incense-like scent when heated. It’s classically prepared with beef in Vietnam.
Grilled Okra - I borrowed this idea from Aussie chef and television food show host Luke Nguyen. Okra is terrific when grilled because the slime cooks off and the pods make great finger food. It’s one of my favorite summer vegetables. Hmong farmers bring it to our farmer’s market and I eat up all I can.
Grilled Beef and Jicama Salad - Because we all need to maintain a balanced diet, how about grilling up some meat and using it as a salad element? It’s low-meat eating and refreshing.
Pok Pok Pork Ribs - Andy Ricker’s recipe from the Pok Pok cookbook requires marination time in the fridge but you can spend that idle time by making the dipping sauce that goes with it. The ribs are delicious and worth the time investment.
Thai Turmeric Grilled Chicken - On the other hand, you may want to stick to chicken. This turmeric chicken from Leela Punyaratabandhu’s Simple Thai is super easy. Instead of dried turmeric, use 1 ½ tablespoons of grated fresh turmeric for extra vibrant results.
Thai Grilled Chicken with Homemade Sweet Chile Sauce - A 2009 meal in Sydney at David Thompson’s restaurant got me hooked on Thai grilled chicken. If you’re not familiar with him, he’s one of the world’s foremost experts on Thai cooking. He’s got a wry sense of humor, too.
I hope these ideas feed your culinary exploration and enjoyment.