Sunday, September 13, 2015

Kalbi Flank Steak and Wild Rice Corn Salad

My son and his wife were visiting over the course of 2 weekends and whenever they are around, we tend to try new recipes and revisit old ones. We all love food and we all love wine and between us we really have an excellent time at table. They brought some wines with them that were discovered earlier this year on a trip out to the Seattle area. The winery, tiny and kept that way on purpose is called Harbinger, and the 3 wines they brought were all wonderful. My favorite of all was a Tempranillo blend caller "Bolero", and not far behind was a Sangiovese called "Rapture". Another really good one was a Cabernet Franc.
Wild Rice and Corn Salad

On the last evening they were here, I had marinated a flank steak with Kalbi type flavorings. The firt time I ever heard of Kalbi was on a cruise ship. On the first afternoon onboard there is generally a sort of cafeteria style lineup of foods, and I tried some thin strips of meat that were just out of this world. I raved so much that the chef gave me the recipe. Unfortunately, trying to pare down a recipe for thousands into a recipe for home use obviously didn't translate well, and when I tried it at home it fell so far short that I never tried it again. That was a long time ago.

Many, many years have passed since then, and I have become far more confident of concocting my own recipes. When recently I was reading a little blurb on a restaurant somewhere that served Kalbi, made using some sort of short ribs, I was first just struck by the name. I know the thin strips of meat I ate onboard the cruise ship were not short ribs by anyone's definition, but the flavors certainly came up in the "Asian" category. I revisited the recipe.

I added some things and took out others and generally just made it my own way, using a flank steak. Flank Steak can be a really tough cup of meat if overcooked. It can also be difficult to eat unless it is sliced across the grain. There is little to no fat on a flank steak, so long cooking will only dry the meat further. I have made many many flank steaks through the years, and I truly love them. They play well with marinades and are quick to broil or grill. A match made in heaven for a Kalbi flavored marinade.

Kalbi Flank Steak

Kalbi Flank Steak
serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 to 2 pounds flank steak

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Mirin (or use Sake)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dark (toasted) sesame oil
1 - 2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper
1 walnut-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated or minced

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large flat container or a gallon sized zip-top bag. Place the flank steak into the marinade, coating it on both sides. Press out all the air if using a bag. Marinate the steak for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight, turning occasionally so the meat is flavored on both sides equally.

Preheat a broiler or a grill. Grill or broil the meat over high heat for about 6 minutes per side. It should stay pink in the center, or it tends to toughen. Once grilled to desired doneness, set the meat on a platter and cover with foil for a few minutes before slicing. Slice the meat across the grain either very thinly, or in less than 1-inch thick slices to serve. 

Racking my brain for something new to make as a side dish for this meal, I finally settled on something with a wild rice base. This came about because as it happened, I had about 3 cups of cooked wild rice in the fridge. It had set on the burner for too long and had all burst open. none of those pretty black strands for this dish! There was nothing wrong with the flavors though, and adding in a lot of other flavors would only be absorbed the better for its burst open state. As I sat thinking about what I had and what I would like to add, I came up with this recipe, and as it happens it was truly inspired. We were practically inhaling it! It made a perfect side for the Kalbi Flank Steak.
Wild Rice and Corn Salad

I used 3 cups of cooked wild rice and 1 cup of white rice, as these were the amounts I had already existing in the fridge. The quantities can be changed, reversed, or used half and half, but about 4 cups of rice will be needed in total. You will need to cook about 3/4 cup wild rice in about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of water with 1 teaspoon salt for nearly an hour, covered. For 1 cup of white rice, cook 1/2 cup white rice with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water, covered, for 15 minutes.

Wild Rice and Corn Salad

Serves 6 to 8
Wild Rice and Corn Salad

3 cups cooked wild rice (3/4 cup dry wild rice)
1 cup cooked white rice (1/2 cup dry white rice)
2 tablespoons pine nuts or cashews
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
3 - 4 scallions, chopped
2 ears fresh corn, shucked
2 to 3 ounces crumbled Feta cheese
chopped cilantro to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 - 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon crushed Sichuan / Szechuan peppercorns, optional
1 teaspoon Asian Dark Sesame Oil

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more, if needed

Have the rice cooked and cooled well ahead of time, or the day before.

Heat a grill or broiler and grill the corn until there is some char on about 1/3 to 1/2 of the kernels, turning often to grill evenly.

Place both the cooled rices in a large bowl and fluff the rice to separate the grains. Add in the pine nuts, green and red pepper, scallions and Feta. Cut the kernels from both of the cobs of corn and add them in. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the rice mixture and toss well. Add in cilantro and mix well. I used at least 1/2 cup of cilantro. If this is not to your taste, alter the amount as needed. Taste the mixture and add in the salt if needed.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.