I would love to re-introduce Sue Park as our featured guest blogger for our 3rd ghetto gourmet-
“Tail-End-of-Summer Foods: Barbecue and Beyond”. One of my closest friends, we both love to get our hands dirty in the kitchen, and fill our stomachs with all the good eats Seoul has to offer!
Sue has a daily show on TBS EFM (101.3) here in Seoul (which you must check out!), loves to pick our brains for what we like to eat, because she will try to figure out a way to cook for you! Sue continuously shares her positive energy wherever she goes!
For me, there is nothing more pleasurable and satisfying than being surrounded by good friends, drinking wine and sharing a truly delicious meal. The simple act of gathering at a table and partaking in a communal meal has the power of binding people together like no other. And, you can learn so much about a person simply by observing their habits at the dinner table as well as how they move and work in the kitchen.
The theme to the third part of our Ghetto Gourmet – Dining in the Rough series was “Tail-End-of-Summer Foods: Barbecue and Beyond." The hosts of our latest dinner series were Keeyeon and his wife, Youngwan (and their canine godson, Dubu). The designated chefs of the evening were Keeyeon, Linus and Bobby who were still laboring away when the rest of us arrived. Preparing a full course dinner for a group of ten is an arduous and daunting task for most cooks; not only do they have to serve all the promised items on time, but there is also the added pressure of having their dishes scrutinized and consumed by their guests who all share a deep passion for food.
On the rooftop was Bobby, busy flame grilling whole corn for his Cuban corn dish—barbecued corn brushed with butter and mayonnaise, drizzled with a dash of lemon juice and sprinkled with freshly-grated parmigiano reggiano and cayenne pepper. Also on the grill were eggplants cut in half, lengthwise, brushed with extra virgin olive oil and sprayed down with sake during the grilling process. These were later drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar and speckled with crumbled gorgonzola (yay to stinky cheese!). Bobby was also in charge of making barbecue sauce for Linus’ smoked pork which he did by combining classic barbecue sauce ingredients like ketchup/tomato sauce, honey, mustard, apple vinegar, garlic and onion seasonings. He also cooked up some deliciously sweet, tangy and savory baked bean casserole covered with slivers of crisp bacon.
Linus, the barbecue master from Alabama, had bought a big chunk of pork shoulder from the butchers the day before which he smoked using oak and apple wood mix for eight hours. For some weird reason, Linus kept calling this cut of meat, “pork butt”, (a southern thing, he explained, and is also known as “Boston butt” in the U.S.).
Linus explained that barbecue had traditionally been considered "poor people's food" in the U.S. Pork shoulder is generally considered one of the least desirable parts of the pig because the meat is so tough. Back in the days, pork shoulder, along with other cheap meat like pig head, feet and the entrails were all poor people could afford. None of it went to waste. The next obvious step was to transform all this “undesirable” parts of meat into something delicious.
The concept is simple science; if you gradually cook meat "low and slow" to a temperature of about 190 degrees (or 90 degrees Celsius), all the connective tissue (collagen) binding the tough shoulder muscles will break down, resulting in the most flavorful succulent meat--so tender that your fingers could effortlessly tear them apart like lasers to butter (hence, "pulled" pork because it is literally pulled apart by hand). Ingredients for his rub includes common core ingredients (plus a few of his secret ingredients he declined to disclose): paprika, ground pepper, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, kosher salt, chili and cayenne powders and various Italian spices.
Keeyeon and Bobby showing off some skillz...
Last but not least, Keeyeon. He also prepared an impressive array of dishes to go with Linus’ barbecued meat. The first was a beautifully-presented potato salad with spinach pesto, tossed with bacon crumbles, oven-dried orange cherry tomatoes, white truffle oil among other ingredients. I’m a sucker for anything carb and Keeyeon’s pasta salad—a mix of gemelli and casarecce tossed with roasted cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, capers, onions, oyster mushrooms and Noilly Prat vermouth—was a winner. The last dish to make it to the dinner table was his squid dish made with homemade seasoned bread crumbs, flat leaf parsley, celery leaf and apple mint sauteed in olive oil then deglazed with Noilly Prat vermouth.
Potato salad with spinach pesto, bacon crumbles, oven-dried orange cherry tomatoes, white truffle oil among other ingredients...
Me and Youngwan prepping the cuban corn...
Grilled eggplant with crumbled gorgonzola...yum!
Baked beans with crispy bacon...this was down right addictive!
Everyone busting out their cameras...
Pasta salad—a mix of gemelli and casarecce tossed with roasted cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, capers, onions, oyster mushrooms and Noilly Prat vermouth
Tom and honorary guest 'dubu'
Tom's old fashioned cocktail concoction...with my fave bourbon!
Mid way through dinner, Linus finally uncovered his pork butt, a large chunk of smoky meat with a dark exterior (burnt ends!!) and we ooh-ed and aah-ed (and possibly drooled) in unison as he proceeded to tear the still-hot pork with his hands and assembled the juiciest part of the meat (setting aside the dry bits) on a potato roll with a dribble of barbecue sauce and a pickle for a little zing. If I ever witnessed collective food orgasm, it was right then and there, seconds after everyone took a bite of their sandwich.
We all had about 2 each (these two photos courtesy of Tom)
Squid dish made with homemade seasoned bread crumbs, flat leaf parsley, celery leaf and apple mint sauteed in olive oil then deglazed with Noilly Prat vermouth.
Discussing our next ghetto gourmet...
Someone beyond pooped!
The dinner ended with Chuseok songpyeon my mom and I made the night before and yet more wine and whiskey. As the evening progressed, details became blurrier and blurrier. I opened my eyes the next morning with a massive hangover, craving a pulled pork sandwich.
Eunji making funny faces while Sid sips wine...meanwhile dubu just could not get enough attention from the ladies...
"Say kimchi to Andy!"
Cheers to another amazing dinner!
Thanks to Keeyeon and Youngwan for hosting our 3rd Ghetto Gourmet!
Participants: Keeyeon, Youngwan, Sarah, Linus, Sue, Andy, Eunji, Sid, Tom, Bobby & Dubu