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Grilling on the Rim : A User's Manual

October 13, 1994|LINDA BURUM

When shopping for Asian barbecue sauces and marinades, there is no one place to start, no one preparation to start with. You just have to jump in: Read labels, take home a selection, taste them and cook with them. Soon you'll have your own fierce preferences.

Here are the basic products, sold under a welter of brand names:

* Kalbi Yangnyum and Bulgogi Yangnyum: Korean-style marinades, the former for beef short ribs, the latter for thinly sliced beef to grill at the table. Both are mixtures of soy sauce, sugar, sesame seeds, green onions, garlic and (sometimes) ginger. Some versions require the addition of water, so if you don't read Hangul, be sure to ask the store manager. Now that Korean barbecue is growing in popularity, less adventurous cooks can choose from a host of English-label brands in the sauce lines of Oriental Chef, Noh, Ebara, Lee Kum Kee and others.

* Yakiniku No Tare: Loosely translated as "sauce for grilled meat," yakiniku no tare is a Japanese marinade that at its most basic is a blend of soy sauce, sweet rice wine and sugar. It can include garlic, ginger, fruit juices and various seasonings. Customarily, yakiniku sauce is used with beef, although creative license is always acceptable; chicken is often suggested as an alternative. Traditional yakiniku will not be as thick and sweet as teriyaki sauce.

* Teriyaki Sauce: The Japanese term means "shimmering broil." Originally teriyaki was strictly a glaze brushed onto chicken or fish as it grilled. The concentration of sugar and sweet rice wine makes it stick to meat or chicken. Miyako comes closest to being the classical version of syrupy teriyaki glaze. More modern variants contain ginger and other flavorings.

* Thai Sweet-Hot Chile Sauce (Nahm Jeem Gratiem): This simple sauce, used as a dip for Thai barbecued chicken or sate, is a sugar syrup loaded with garlic and hot chile. Many restaurants serve it with sliced cucumber as a cooling counterpoint. Three popular brands are Caravelle, Pantainorasingh and Supanahongs by Foodex.

* Sate Sauce: Not to be confused with sate marinade (which flavors the meat before it is cooked), the most popular sate sauces have a crushed peanut base usually combined with tamarind or lemon juice, chiles, sugar and seasonings. The Thai Kitchen line of Thai seasonings, sold in many grocery stores, includes a peanut sauce and individual ingredients for the marinade but not a prepared marinade. Tommy Tang's line of Thai seasonings, available at Bristol Farms, Mrs. Gooch's and Williams-Sonoma, includes a sate marinade and a companion sauce.

* Char Siu Sauce: The rosy color on those dangling barbecued ribs or pork butts seen in Chinatowns throughout the world comes from red food coloring. Like it or not, most char siu marinades contain coloring along with a combination of sugar, soy sauce, garlic and other seasonings. Char siu sauce or mix seems to be de rigueur in every kind of Asian store. Filipinos, Vietnamese, Singaporeans, Hawaiians and even Japanese all have at least one favorite brand.

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