Fear of Frying
I'm a clumsy person. Oh, not spectacularly, but there's a reason that Dimples refers to our bathroom cabinet as the Bermuda Triangle of the apartment -- I can't get through an evening's ablutions without dropping at least one bottle of this or jar of that. I'm just not particularly well-coordinated. (And luckily I can buy most of my beauty regimen in plastic containers.)
Which means that dropping bits of food into inches of hot oil is really not a good idea. I don't even like to fry bacon -- too much opportunity for grease mischief. And for a long time, I was also frightened of my grill pan. Even though the bubblebubbletoilandtrouble thing wasn't an issue, something about all that heat and heavy cast iron seemed ominous.
But it's spring, and asparagus is everywhere -- and my absolute favorite way to prepare asparagus is on the grill. So last night, after some deep breaths, I reached for the grill pan.
I'm pleased to report total success! The asparagus, zucchini, and mushrooms soaked up tons of flavor from my on-the-fly marinade, which gets an extra savory-sweet kick from Chinese five-spice powder. And the tofu, which I marinated in a dark sesame marinade, grilled gorgeously.
And yeah, well, I did burn my wrist a little. On each side. But hey, what did I expect.
Spicy Grilled Vegetables
one medium bunch asparagus (thicker spears will be easier to manipulate)
two small zucchini
a handful of crimini mushrooms
soy sauce, preferably low-sodium
extra-virgin olive oil
Chinese five-spice powder
honey, if you like
Clean and trim your vegetables. Slice the mushrooms in half and the zucchini in to 1/3" planks. Add all the veggies to a large Ziploc bag.
Shake in about a tsp. white pepper, half a tsp. five-spice powder, and more or less a T. of honey if you're using it. Add anywhere from half a cup to three-quarters of a cup of soy sauce, then shake in a quarter cup of olive oil. Seal the bag, squishing out the air, and wiggle everything around. Toss the bag into the refrigerator for at least two hours and preferably overnight, turning it periodically.
To grill, heat your pan (or your actual grill) to medium-high heat. Make sure the grill is hot before adding the vegetables. Add the asparagus first; they will take longest to cook, about 3 minutes per side. Add the mushrooms and zucchini after you turn the asparagus for the first time. Everything should finish more or less at the same time.
Eat hot off the grill, or, if you must be more civilized, serve on toasted buns, with or without cheese. They're also excellent alongside grilled chicken.
* This is an intense marinade, and it's only fair to point out that I have a salty tooth. You may want to marinate the vegetables for a shorter time to see if you agree with me.
* Other veggies to try -- eggplant, sweet onions, red peppers, baby bok choy...