On The Fourth, Go Global On The Grill | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

On The Fourth, Go Global On The Grill

The author’s chicken wings with gojuchang sauce. Photos by Ronnie Fein/JW

A world of sauces and marinades awaits the adventurous grillmaster.

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The Fourth of July has always been an important holiday in our family. When I was a kid, it was a day to celebrate that my grandparents immigrated to this wonderful country and to acknowledge that America provided opportunities the Old Country had not.

We would eat outdoors in our suburban backyard where dinner was basically plain grilled meat and corn-on-the-cob. It was simple fare, basic, celebratory enough.

But the food world sure has changed since my grandparents’ day. And so, to celebrate Independence Day, even though plain grilled meat is still fine, these days you can fire up some pretty spectacular stuff on the barbecue and make your meal burst with the kind of flavors my grandma never knew but, good cook that she was, would surely appreciate. 

One of the easiest ways to accomplish that is to flavor whatever you’re grilling — beef, chicken, veal, lamb, even fish — with globally inspired sauces and marinades. 

Here are but a few fabulously tasty choices:

Chili sauce/paste: There are several types including the well-known Thai Sriracha, made with chili peppers, vinegar and garlic, but while all are spicy-hot, they don’t all taste the same. Sambal Oelek, an Indonesian version, is less garlicky than Sriracha. Gojuchang (Korean) is sweeter because it includes miso, made from fermented soy beans; it is also thicker than both Sriracha or Sambal. Harissa, from Tunisia, has a totally different flavor that includes fragrant spices such as cumin and coriander, and is thick and paste-like. All of these products are available in kosher versions, and all can be used as marinades for meat or can be brushed onto steaks, chops, kebabs, chicken parts and so on during grilling. I store all of these sauces in my fridge because they are so useful for enhancing dishes as diverse as baked beans, popcorn, soup and salmon.

Chimichurri is an herbaceous sauce from Argentina and is similar to the more familiar Mexican salsa. It is made with lots of fresh parsley, olive oil, garlic and chili peppers. There are green and red versions (depending on the type of pepper). It can be used as both a marinade and a dipping sauce. Pebre sauce, from Chile, is very similar, but includes fresh cilantro, giving it a spikier flavor. Both these sauces should be made from scratch and used within a few days because they lose flavor quickly.

Chermoula is also prepared with fresh herbs — parsley and cilantro — plus some North African spices, usually cumin, and may also include coriander. In Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, where this condiment is king, it is typically an accompaniment to fish and seafood, but I have used it as a marinade and salsa accompaniment for meat and vegetables. 

Don’t like spicy? There are many choices here as well. Including Teriyaki, the Japanese sweet soy/mirin marinade; vinaigrette (best with fresh herbs included); Ponzu (a citrusy-soy based sauce); Hoisin-based glazes and many others.

All of these dishes are way beyond what my grandma used to cook. But while that takes nothing at all away from my good memories of July 4ths past, I’d like to create some delicious memories for my own grandchildren too, by celebrating with 21st-century-style eats.

Chicken Wings with Gojuchang Sauce

But if you want to go more traditional on the Fourth, here’s a sauce for your brisket.

Applesauce and Tomato Barbecue Sauce

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