meats


meat.  to americans, it’s a meal.  to the french, it’s a sauce.  to indians, it’s a stew.  to the british, it is something to be boiled until hard and grey.

just kidding about that last part.  only not really.  sorry britain, i still like your comedy.

pork, chicken, beef, lamb, and all the others (snake, turtle, horse, dog, quail, frog, gator, snail, etc.) are unified under the glorious moniker “meat.”  it might be one of my favorite parts of a meal.  my favorite among the meats is pork (as i’m sure you already know), but each has their own special place in my heart.

for those lacking in culinary experience, meat is probably the most daunting among all ingredients.  why?  two reasons.

number one.  with the exclusion of beef, rare meats can be dangerous to those who consume them.  this is a fact that can hardly be said of vegetables and fruits, who on the whole are perfectly safe to consume in their raw form (even those they may not necessarily be at their maximum deliciousness).  and unlike vegetables, who’s plant fibers generally turn to mush when overcooked, meat becomes tough and nearly inedible if cooked for too long.  in other words, meats, regardless of the animal they come from, have a relatively finite sweet-spot that exists somewhere between “bleeding and riddled with bacteria” and “so hard you could drive a nail with it.”

number two.  in a much more general sense, meat is daunting to those lacking in culinary experience because it is the most “alive” of everything we eat.  regardless of the type of meat, it came from an animal.  and for you to have that sexy meal on your plate, that animal had to die.  this fact is (understandably) off-putting to a lot of people.  so much so that in today’s day and age, most people either intentionally don’t think about it, or they resign from the consumption of meat altogether.  yes, i’m talking about you pescetarian/vegan/vegetarians.

and where is where I shove my opinions down your throat.

embrace the fact that something died for you to eat well.  it isn’t morbid.  well, maybe it is morbid, but it’s real.  in japan, before every meal, even school lunches, the hands are put together in a prayer position and the word “itadakimasu” is spoken.  this phrase is often translated as “time to eat” or “i will take part in this meal.”  but that isn’t quite right.  itadakimasu isn’t spoken for the sake of the people around you, or even for the sake of the chef who made your food.  it is, in its origin, a greeting to the ingredients.  the closest translation might be something along the lines of “i will partake in these lives.”

we shouldn’t ever forget that meat is first and foremost an animal, just like us.  the more we strive to remember that fact of life, the more honest and eloquent our appreciation and utilization of one of nature’s most flavorful ingredients can become.

take a gander.

cheap man’s chashu

chinese char siu but without the pork and the expense.  chicken-thighs marinated for a few hours, stuffed with tasty herbs, rolled up and tied with twine make priming steaming material.  the result is melt-in-your-mouth soft and the best darn soup topping you could ever imagine.

japanese tuna ceviche

who says latin america has to have all the fun?  ginger, garlic, soy sauce, black pepper, and sesame oil provide a much needed change to the traditional ceviche we all know and love.

kara-age

fried chicken, japanese-style.  crisp, juicy, and begging you to take it on a picnic.

poor man’s pulled chicken

do you live in north carolina?  yeah, me neither.  use this slow-cookerless cheater’s recipe for tender, gravy-laden pulled chicken using nothing more than a pot, a pan, and a few easy to find ingredients.

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