We know, it’s summer and people want to grill. They want to arrange raw food over a wood or gas fire and watch it cook. They want to wrest eggplant slices from plunging through the grates with a smooth tong maneuver. They want to brush sticky sauce on protein, and savage marshmallows on a stick.
It pains us to admit that although we love grilled foods, we hate to grill. Even the male half of our equation can’t be persuaded to dump a bag of hardwood charcoal into a chimney starter. He resents the lingering American ethos that insists “where there’s a man, there’s a grill.” For my part, I singe from the fierce “one Mississippi” heat and cough up the smoke that circles around me no matter where I stand. So it is perhaps not surprising that we headed indoors this summer to work on our newsletter.
The dishes we developed exercise their own right to be indoors—indoors with all doors and windows closed—that is, with their lids slammed shut. Two of the principal recipes noted here demanded nothing more than a touch of water, salt, and a lid to deliver perfect grains shining with flavor. The other two have their own secrets to tell.
In spite of their dark quarters, these recipes glow in shades of summer light.
A click on each image will take you to its recipe.
A bowl of Korean steamed eggs and an act of minor defiance got this summer house party started. Glenn has been very keen for me to make a Southern dish called “rice and eggs,” an idea I’ve resisted with success for years. (Sounds like such a snore.) The idea of a Korean egg dish that brings the custardy, creamy lightness of warm sunshine and holds elegant umami flavors within, was something else altogether. Gyeranjjim pleases morning or evening, plain or elevated with a garnish of tobiko, fresh blue crab, white shrimp, or even lobster. And guess what? He loves it.
No-Peek Carolina Gold Rice Middlins
Here is the rice portion of our rice-and-eggs program, a recipe as simple and satisfying as any rice dish can be. Those of you who have been close to Anson Mills farming or recipes know we’re rice people. You might also know that rice grits, brokens, or middlins—not whole grain Carolina Gold—were responsible for the emergence of the Carolina Rice Kitchen cuisine, and that grits remain our favorite way to consume rice. They accept and magnify flavors more than grain-for-grain Carolina Gold.
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Carolina Gold Rice would not make the cut at a modern rice mill. The grains are fragile and break to grits with little provocation. Whole grain Carolina rice and its cookery was a luxury enjoyed only by wealthy Southerners. The most important canon of Carolina Rice Kitchen cuisine recounts how Gold Rice middlins define breads, ferments, and an astonishing array of simple dishes that are still nearly extinct in the American South.
And here is another simple dish: No-Peek Carolina Gold Middlins—"no peek" meaning you must resist the temptation to lift the lid (even once!) during cooking. Made with just water and salt, no-peek middlins are quick, easy, deeply Southern—and Asian at the same time (except for the salt). They are superb with gyeranjjim or any saucy dish.
As a condiment or “come lately salad,” we chose to offset the smoothly suave gyeranjjim with scratch kimchi (known as mak or “careless” because the cabbage is chopped rather than fermented in quarters). Fermented in a covered vessel with some expected and some unexpected ingredients—for instance, did you know kimchi is frequently made with a rice flour porridge?—this recipe produces vegetables of astonishing crispness and complex layered flavors in which searchlight bright acidity shines through spice to a slightly sweet finish. It’s coleslaw gone to heaven.
Maple Farro with Peaches and Yogurt
For dessert (or breakfast) we chose our best bud, Farro Piccolo, the most congenial whole grain that we grow. It, too, is cooked covered in a small amount of water. Then it is cooled, tossed with maple syrup and a dash of lemon peel, and layered with fresh peach compote and Greek yogurt to create a parfait. There’s a story here, but you’ll have to turn the page to read it. So bright and summery is this dish we recommend killing the lights and using it for illumination.
Leave the grilling to friends, y’all, and Good Food!