Spring is the best season in the Washington DC area. In addition to all the beautiful flowers and cool sunny weather there are no mosquitoes. This enables us to have a barbecue outside without become a meal ourselves for these pesky insects. During this mosquito free interlude we really enjoy sitting outside and doing “Yakitori” style cooking. This is one such occasion. We did not plan to do Yakitori but it was such a nice sunny day and when we checked the fridge we saw we had some ingredients that could be grilled so we did it on a whim. Instead of the usual chicken or pork, we grilled New York strip steak and also cooked mushrooms two ways.
We have this yakitori grill from Japan which was purchased from a New York company “Korin 光琳. Given the ingredients I had, I knew I would not be grilling for a long time so I put just enough lump charcoal in the chimney starter to cover the bottom 1/3 of the grill (below left). Since it is still early spring, it gets a bit chilly when the sun goes down, so we wheeled out the infra-red outside heater which was very effective in keeping us warm and providing a golden ambient light while we cooked (below right).
Rather than grilling steak in usual way i.e. as one big piece, I trimmed the fat cap and cut it into cubes and skewered them (below, left). I seasoned it with salt and pepper. This was one American size serving of New York strip steak but perfect for two of us.
I also had a box of assorted shimeji (both white and brown) as well as Royal trumpet mushrooms). I cooked the shimeji mushroom with miso and butter with the addition of sliced onion in an aluminum foil pouch as before (below right).
I just tore the trumpet mushroom in half lengthwise, coated with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and put on a skewer. I grilled the pouch of mushrooms in miso, steak cubes, and royal trumpet mushrooms. As you can see all the trees were pushing new-growth leaves (below, right upper).
Once the beef, royal trumpet mushrooms (above, left) and shimeji with miso and butter in a packet (above, right) were done all I needed to do was to make grilled rice balls (below). I used the leftover miso sauce on the bottom of the mushroom packet which worked very well. As I mentioned before, this is the best way to make the perfect grilled rice ball. All the surfaces had a nice savory crust. This can only be accomplished by slow patient cooking on a hot charcoal fire.
Japanese often grill beef in small pieces such as in “Yakiniku” 焼肉 or “Dice” steak or “Saikoro steak” さいころステーキ in which cubes of steak are grilled. What I made is a sort of hybrid between them. The cubes increase the ratio of caramelized surface crust to tender meat inside. I think this gives the meat more flavor and dimension than when it is cooked as one large piece. The cubes were small enough that we (at least I) could use only chop sticks to eat them. Although this was US prime not “Wagyu”, this was quite good.