Melting Pot Meal for Buttermilk Graffiti

It's Cook the Books time here, and summing up our current selection, Buttermilk Graffiti, by Edward Lee. This CTB round is hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats. It's a sort of memoir, travelogue, food journey across America.  As the full title says: "A Chef's Journey to Discover America's New Melting-Pot Cuisine."  Lee is a very empathetic fellow, totally engrossed and patient with all the people he interviews along the way.  The title he chose didn't grab me, though it has meaning for him.  Also, I am not averse to trying new things, but Lee's cooking was a little out there for my taste, with some weird food combinations.  That said, his journey and the people he encountered along the way were certainly interesting.  I especially enjoyed Captain Wally's story in the Trawling for Shrimp chapter.  Characteristically, Lee says, "I find myself driving to a stranger's home for no other reason than to cook food.  It is humbling to witness the kindness of people."

More from the Publishers:
"American food is the story of mash-ups. Immigrants arrive, cultures collide, and out of the push-pull come exciting new dishes and flavors. But for Edward Lee, who, like Anthony Bourdain or Gabrielle Hamilton, is as much a writer as he is a chef, that first surprising bite is just the beginning. What about the people behind the food? What about the traditions, the innovations, the memories?

A natural-born storyteller, Lee decided to hit the road and spent two years uncovering fascinating narratives from every corner of the country. There’s a Cambodian couple in Lowell, Massachusetts, and their efforts to re-create the flavors of their lost country. A Uyghur café in New York’s Brighton Beach serves a noodle soup that seems so very familiar and yet so very exotic—one unexpected ingredient opens a window onto an entirely unique culture. A beignet from Café du Monde in New Orleans, as potent as Proust’s madeleine, inspires a narrative that tunnels through time, back to the first Creole cooks, then forward to a Korean rice-flour hoedduck and a beignet dusted with matcha."

Though Lee puts together some unusual recipes in this melting-pot memoir, I did get a bit of cooking inspiration from him.  In the chapter entitled "Nigerian Hustle", I was drawn to a dish of spicy beef skewers.

I still want to do his Nigerian take, with the cashew powder, but this time I used ingredients I had on hand, recalling Lee's mention of  "the flavors of a Korean pantry", for my locally sourced beef short ribs. A Korean Kalbi, with a side of kimchi salad.  I reduced down the marinade at the end, which made an incredible sauce for the ribs and rice.  A truly "melting pot" dish, fabulous and easy in your Instant Pot or pressure cooker.

                                 Kalbi Beef Short Ribs – Pressure Cooker

  • 5 pounds Korean Style Beef Short Ribs 
  • 1/2 cup Shoyu
  • 1/4 cup Mirin Rice Wine (I used Guinness)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 small Yellow/Brown Onion peeled, chopped
  • 1 small papaya, flesh scooped out - alternatively use a pear or apple, cored and peeled 
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled/minced
  • 1 thumb Ginger Root peeled/ minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Pure Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Scallions (Green Onions) minced
  • 1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar (packed)
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds (optional)
  • 2 Scallions (Green Onions), sliced to garnish,

1.                   Rinse ribs well to remove any bone shards.  Trim excess fat off of the ribs 
2.                   In a blender or food processor add the sauce ingredients and process on medium speed for one   minute, or until mostly blended.
3.                   Place ribs into a large heavy duty storage bag or storage container and add sauce.  Place in refrigerator until ready to cook. (4 or more hours)
4.                   Add ribs and sauce to Pressure Cooker cooking pot.
5.                   Lock on lid and close Pressure Valve.  Cook on High Pressure for 6 minutes.
6.                   When Beep sounds, allow a 15 minute natural release.
7.                   Transfer ribs to cookie sheet and place under the broiler for five minutes on each side.  Sprinkle with Toasted Sesame Seeds and chopped Scallions. 

 I reduced the sauce left in the pressure cooker to make a lovely gravy. Serve with rice and kim chi.  The kim chi I have right now is too hot for Bob, so I cut it with sweet red peppers and cabbage.  The whole meal was soooo ono (as we say in Hawaii).  

A meal to share, and I will, with the Cook the Books Club, with Heather for May's edition of Foodie Reads Challenge, and with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event. Lots of good book and recipe suggestions.


A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

I love short ribs and I'm always happy for another instant pot recipe. Thanks.

Debra Eliotseats said...

He talks about the Kalbi ribs a lot in Smoke and Pickles, too. Great meal! I'm glad you reminded me about Captain Wally. :)

Mae Travels said...

I've been interested in all the reviews of this book, which I read a few months ago. I pretty much agreed with you that it was spotty -- sometimes good, sometimes not living up to what it seemed to promise.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Deb in Hawaii said...

Your dinner looks really tasty. A great pick for the book. ;-)

Beth F said...

This is a new to me book - -and I agree the title doesn't call to me. BUT your pressure cooker ribs look delicious!

Claudia said...

Mae, you should join us for the next book at CTB! You do good reviews and like to cook, soooooo. It will be Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton.

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

This sounds like such an interesting book. I enjoy books that tell stories with food.

Carole said...

How adventurous. cheers

Simona Carini said...

I was also intrigued by the Nigerian recipes and particularly the cashew powder: the stew in that chapter is on my to-try list. I have never had Korean food, so thank you for bringing some to our CtB party :)