Yesterday I had my second round of interviews with the Monterey Peninsula School District. I got home around eleven in the morning and decided to walk to the Safeway on 41st. We live less than a mile from the store, so it was a nice afternoon walk if I limited the amount of groceries I bought. I kept it to two bags and it wasn’t so bad, except for the bunch of middle-aged motorcyclists who decided to stop and check me out. Weirdness.
I was craving BBQ chicken like mad. I couldn’t stop thinking about the sweet, smoky carbonized sticky chicken skin. Skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs were the cheapest cuts of chicken available at Safeway, though I tend to enjoy white meat more than dark. Dark meat does tend to stand up better to the high heat of the grill. Andrew got the grilled started up and then I got the chicken on.
To start with, toss the chicken in olive oil, salt and pepper. Do not put the sauce on the chicken yet. Andrew wanted to put the sauce on straight away and this is a mistake. You will end up with a bullet proof carbon shell around your chicken before the inside is even cooked. Once you put the chicken on the grill put the lid on and cook for about fifteen minutes, turning and flipping occasionally.
After about fifteen to twenty minutes, it is time to add the sauce. You can make your own sauce or you can use store bought. I purchased Baby Sugar Ray’s BBQ Sauce for 99 cents. 99 cents for more than a pound of BBQ sauce. Much lighter and cheaper than carrying all the makings for homemade BBQ sauce. Homemade is always appreciated, but so is a light grocery bag and a small bill. Slather the BBQ sauce on with a brush and continue to baste until the chicken is cooked. It took about twenty more minutes for my chicken to cook mostly because I’m terrified of undercooked poultry.
We served this with asparagus and grilled baby new potatoes.
I have probably waxed poetic about the beauty of Ranch 99 before. Ranch 99 is a chain of Asian supermarkets found in the Bay Area (and I’ve heard rumors of them existing in other parts of California as well). Right down the street from us is the Ranch 99 Cupertino store. It is in a busy shopping center with one of the most dangerous parking lots I’ve ever encountered along with a large number of mostly Chinese restaurants and bubble tea stores. I like having this grocery store within walking distance and it will be one of the few things that I will miss after we move back to Santa Cruz.
Fresh wild salmon filet with large ribbons of fat running through it.
One of the best things about Ranch 99 is the fresh seafood. They have live shellfish of all shapes, sizes, and varieties there. They also have live fish there that you can choose from. Now I am not so knowledgeable, skilled, or adventurous enough at the moment to choose my own fish and gut it at home. Instead Andrew and I opted to purchase their fresh, wild salmon filets stored on ice in the fish market. These filets were huge and mine alone was over a pound of brightly colored, fat ribboned salmon glory.
Salmon Skin is not only beautiful but incredibly delicious and crispy when grilled.
I went for a simple treatment of the fish. I marinated it in the juice of one lemon, two tablespoons of soy sauce, and rubbed some brown sugar into the flesh. Before marinating make sure to wash the fish so any slime comes off and pat it dry with paper towels. This is also a good time to debone the fish if there are any. There were so few bones in my fish that I just skipped this step all together. Let it marinate on the counter for thirty minutes before throwing it on the grill.
Marinating salmon in soy sauce, lemon juice, and brown sugar.
Grill the salmon skin side down so the skin becomes crispy and delicious. The skin may stick to the grill. It did in my case because of the marinade that we put on it, but Andrew’s simple treatment of olive oil and lemon juice did not stick to the grill. You want to grill it on medium high heat with about four inches of space from your rack to your heat source (we use a propane grill). Our filets were large so it took about twenty minutes for them to cook to about medium. It will be less time if your filets are thinner or if you want to go for medium rare. Only eat medium rare or rare fish if it is very very fresh and you know the source. Just because the grocery store says it is sushi grade does not necessarily mean that you can it rare.
We served the salmon with asparagus cooked on the stovetop with olive oil and lemon and brown rice.