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The Yakiniku Experiment October 6, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Ramblings.
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The one question I’m asked the most by people back home is, “Do you cook?”

The simple answer: no, I don’t. I have few talents, and culinary expertise is not one of them. If stranded on a deserted island with only a supply of eggs to sustain me until help arrives (assuming the cholesterol won’t kill me first), I would probably break them all uselessly or burn them hopelessly, two outcomes I’m familiar with the only two other times I tried to cook an egg – which, by the way, I don’t much enjoy eating. So most of the time that I’m here in New York, I go for much of the usual fare “to go” that can be had for around $5.

I’ve also always thought that cooking is an extremely inefficient activity, more so for a person eating alone. By inefficient, I refer only to the time it takes to prepare a meal. Certainly, a good case can be made that, barring exotic, exquisite, or otherwise pricey ingredients, a person will always come out ahead cooking for oneself. But cooking takes an inordinate amount of time – from preparing the ingredients, doing the actual cooking, and thereafter cleaning up – especially when one considers how much shorter it takes to simply eat the meal. A pathetic analysis, I know; but it is what it is.

So no, I don’t cook. But I do grill.

There is a difference. Grilling is to cooking as sudoku is to math: it can give the illusion that a person is good at it, but really one has little to do with the other. Anyone can grill; it’s idiot-proof. Take any slab of meat appropriate for grilling (which is most anything, really), season it any which way and throw it on a hot enough grill, and a person can fashion himself or herself the greatest chef in the world. Yet anything grilled tastes practically the same, with minute variations in flavor: in my case, those flavors have rotated somewhere between bland and salt and peppered. This is how I have been living on those occasions when I prepare food for myself, thanks in part to a $20 grill that bears the name of one Rev. George Foreman.

Recently, however, while ruminating on this sad state of affairs, an idea dawned on me: why don’t I try grilling meat Yakiniku style? It saves on time (one eats as one grills) and preparation (no real need to marinade), and I already have the necessary equipment (a grill is a grill is a grill, after all). Further, considering the variety of Japanese and Korean grilling sauces out there to accompany such food, it certainly began looking like a very appealing improvement my salt and pepper dining experience.

One visit to an Oriental grocery store and two meals later, I’m proud to report that the experiment was a resounding success! I wonder why I never thought of this before. At least now I can look forward to more flavor in my self-prepared menu.

So long as I remember to buy the damned sauces next time.

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Comments»

1. Jon Z. - October 7, 2006

bah, your survival chef skills are weak. 😛

cooking only takes as long as the instant noodles packets say.


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