The Language of Grilling

Pork on the grill

We’re getting there, inch by inch, nail by nail. I sit in the stupor of a still afternoon—no rain, no wind, just heat in the shade of this mulberry tree. A brilliant swallowtail floats by. Jerry swears at the floor as he installs T moulding while I write.

We have progressed to the finishing touches, and we are fried. Burnt. Drained of domestic duties, eagerly awaiting our flight to Singapore in a few weeks. We love this little hacienda, and we will welcome its needs again, in time. But our minds are ready for a shift again—back to work, the kind that pays the mortgage and keeps us well-fed.

We wouldn’t even be this far, had it not been for an exceptionally generous gift—the gift of time. A few weeks ago, my brother arrived with nothing in his hands (lost luggage) but the utter will to work. On our house! Four days, he pounded nails, shopped for trim, sawed wood, drilled new holes into my newly painted kitchen walls 🙁 and installed a new outlet for the fridge 🙂

Had my brother not come, we’d still have an untrimmed front door with sickly green foam fill oozing from the space between wall and door jam. Had my brother not come, I would have no shelf in the pots-n-pans cabinet, nor a book nook in the old closet by the back door.

We threw a barbecue, Thai-style. I got down on my little rattan stool and used my special papaya-salad mortar and pestle to pound a spicy mean som tam. And we grilled pork, over mesquite charcoal, the kind that comes in little logs, as though straight from the earthen pit where it’s made. Grilled pork is a recent obsession of ours, ever since we discovered the fabulous, succulent rolls of meat sold by El Mezquite Market down the road. If you’ve been to a Redcoates dinner lately, we’ve probably fed you pig.

But pig has treated us well in this house, on this patio, and I think it’s the perfect thing to share. Good food serves as a language all its own: Welcome. Thank you. Come again.

We’ve prepared our pig several ways, but we generally do some variation of this Thai-style marinade. Very simple, very tasty:

lots of garlic, minced

fish sauce, a healthy dose

plenty of lime, squeezed

hot roasted chili flakes, your preference on quantity

cilantro, chopped

a pinch of turmeric

coriander seeds, crushed

palm sugar, just a touch, shaved

coconut milk, enough to cover the meat

Cut your pork into nicely sized grilling pieces. Mix all ingredients, setting some aside. Cover the meat generously with marinade and let stand a few hours to soak up those juices. Use remaining marinade to baste meat while grilling. Don’t overcook. Serve and enjoy!

Pork on the table

5 thoughts on “The Language of Grilling

  1. Very delicious already, I like it very much!

    Do you know P.M.Hun Sen has just released an order to stop all importation of pigs from our neighboring countries. One of thousand reasons is due to businesses people have imported some unhealthy pigs. Now all Cambodians who have pigs farms are very happy with this news. I hope I will have opportunity to eat Cambodian pork forever. Yesterday night (Aug.17) while I was driving on the way back to PP (at night time), I saw at least three police check points, and I saw policemen stopped all big trucks and checked if there are pigs in the trucks and would ask where are they from. I wish they continue to do this. But how can this order is enforced?

    I hope to see you in Cambodia again. Best-Rith

  2. Rith, thanks for the update on Cambodia’s ban on pig imports. Very interesting. I’ve been touring New Mexico with my parents this week, out of the Internet loop, and I hadn’t heard. Will look into this. You are right, enforcement would be tough.

    And yes: Cambodia has tasty pig.

  3. That looks like a familiar and tasty meal! You’ll have to show a full shot of the backyard in BBQ mode!

  4. I think Hun Sen was just planning a big bar-b-q. Do you really think he’d pay for his own chops and bacon when he can get the cops to shake it out for him?

  5. Last vivid recollection of Cambodian cops and meat: shaving, skinning, boiling and roasting dog behind our Phnom Penh apartment. Ooh… but that’s another story entirely….

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