We love to travel, and with that travel we get to eat… a lot… I’m not sure about you, but some of my strongest memories are associated with smells or tastes. I will smell plumeria lotion and be taken back to a trip I took to Peru, when I was in high school, and I wore that lotion every day. Or I will eat a favorite snack and remember the movie that I was watching the last time I ate that food (too this day I think of The Princess Bride every time I eat tootsie rolls) . Memories are closely linked to smells and tastes for me. For that reason Tavis and I regularly try to recreate the foods that we really enjoyed from different trips and adventures that we have been on.
For a while, Tavis had been asking to go to Disney’s ‘Ohana restaurant. We would go to Disney with our camper last minute when we had time but we would never be able to get reservations. For him it was a favorite from his childhood trips to Disney, for me (although I had been when I was really young) I didn’t remember ever going and was eager to try it out. ‘Ohana is an all you can eat family style buffet, that means they bring a pre-set menu of food to your table and will continue to bring as much as you want of any dish, until you make them stop! We finally were lucky enough to score a reservation (read: I planned ahead enough this time to make the trip reservations in advance and there were tables available) So even though it was months past his birthday, we went to ‘Ohana to celebrate Tavis’s birthday (5 months late…). There are tons of delicious dished to fill you up, but one of our favorite was the steak shish kabobs. It was the perfect combination of marinade and wood fired grilling and we were in love… with the steak. We set out on a mission to re create this dish and add it to our rotation of dishes. On the menu it is called “Szechuan Serloin Steak – prepared over an Oak fire”. (I don’t have a picture at the restaurant but this is a picture from earlier in the day, we always camp in our Airstream at Disney’s Fort Wilderness when we go to Disney World)
Tavis always jumps at the opportunity to cook ANYTHING (when I say anything, I really mean ANYTHING!!!) on his Big Green Egg (BGE). You think I am kidding about that but I will be getting ready to make chicken noodle soup and he will be like “that would be SO good if i cooked it for you on the egg!!!” I will think that he is joking but as soon as I laugh at him, for the suggestion, he will explain how he is going to get his grinder out of the garage so he can cut the handles off of my enamel coated cast iron dutch oven (so that the lid on the egg will close properly) and he is going to cook the soup for me on the egg… I eventually talk him into just roasting the chicken for me on the BGE and not mutilating my dutch oven… Ok, back to the steak, FOCUS!! So when we were at ‘Ohana, Tavis went over to the open kitchen to watch the chefs cooking over the fire and gleaned as much as he could from how to cook them to perfection and how to adapt this to the BGE.
With the help from a few other recipe sites, and some trial and error, we were able to recreate the marinade, which is WAY more simple than I thought it would be!
1 and a half cups Vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
1 table spoon of fresh ground black pepper
Yup, that is it! I use this recipe for just grilling regular steaks as well as the shish kabobs. It is the perfect amount for 4 regular size steaks (6-10oz each). I grill them whole or cut them up into 1-2 inch cubes. Mix the marinade up and thoroughly coat the steak, it doesn’t have to cover it but the garlic and pepper should stick to the meat. Place it in a covered dish and set in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours. It has the best flavor when you use fresh (not dried) garlic and you marinade for the full 24 hours. Make sure to stir/flip the steak 4-5 times while it is soaking.
If we are cooking the steak as shish kabobs we put the meat and onions skewers by themselves and put the veggies; bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini and more onions on separate skewers so that we can regulate the cook time and not burn anything. We put the veggies on low heat on the gas grill while we get the BGE fired up, we cook the meat very hot and very quickly (think searing). When the meat is done, we put the veggies on the BGE to finish them up and get some of that great oak flavor. If you don’t have two separate cooking areas, you can cook the meat first and wrap it in foil to keep it warm. Lower the temperature and cook the veggies to your desired tenderness.
To keep the veggies from drying out I sometimes whip up a little something and baste them while they cook. I like to use a soy based marinade because I love the flavor that it adds. I usually use some variation of this:
1/2 Soy Sauce
1 cup pineapple juice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
The key to getting the flavor is the oak (or sometime hickory), we tried this on the gas grill (with no wood smoke) and it is no where close to the same flavor. For the BGE we fire it up as we normally would with lump charcoal (no additives or chemicals or starter fluid) once we (Tavis) get it up to the right temperature (as hot as possible), right before we put the steaks on we add some oak chips that have been soaking in water, this is where the flavor comes from. If you are cooking on a gas grill alone, try using a smoker box with some wood chips to create the smokey flavor, it doesn’t take as much smoke as you would think.
Let me know what you think, do you have a favorite recipe that you closely associate with a great memory?