Grilled Edamame

I’m writing from my favorite sushi spot which, as luck would have it, is just a few blocks from my apartment. I worked my CSA shift tonight and, despite having just picked up two bags’ worth of glorious fruits and vegetables, hunger compelled me to stop off for some chirashi. The fish was great, as always, but the steamed edamame that came on my platter seemed like a sad afterthought.

This reminded me that I’d been meaning to post about grilled edamame. When last in Baltimore, I dined at a swanky Japanese restaurant with an exceptional happy hour. Edamame were a mere $1.88, so I figured I’d order some to soak up the mystery punch I was drinking. (When in doubt, order the punch.) The edamame that arrived were a revelation. After some liberal sampling, I hazarded that grilling was the key.

As luck would have it, a few days later, I found myself in a beach house with a grill…

Grilled Edamame

As with so many good recipes, this one starts with a cocktail or two. I leave that part up to you and your bartender of choice. Once everyone is good and liquored up, determine that someone should do something about dinner.

Oh wait, that someone is you.

Fortunately, you threw those t-bones in a bowl with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a whole mess of garlic before you left for the beach this morning. But there are skewers to be soaked, vegetables to be cut, and shit, you’re almost out of olive oil. Dispatch one of your housemates to a neighboring rental house to scavenge.

In the meantime, pull the bag of edamame in their shells out of the freezer and toss them with whatever oil you have left, some black pepper, and that strange pre-mixed rib rub that seems to come with every beach house. You could defrost the edamame. You could make your own seasoning mix. But this is vacation cooking.

Fire up the grill, taking care not to do the same to your caftan. Noting the charred remains of asparagus, onions, and peppers that slipped through the cracks during previous evenings’ grilling adventures, retrieve the top portion of the broiler pan from the oven and stick it on the grill. When the grill is good and hot, spread the edamame across your makeshift vegetable basket, shut the lid, and sear away.

Discover that your housemate has returned from his mission with olive oil and a stockpile of wine that the folks in the other house didn’t think they could finish before their checkout tomorrow. Don’t mind if you do.

Open the grill and push your edamame around to get an even distribution of tasty charred bits. Note that the grill has mysteriously turned itself off. After attempting to relight the grill, conclude that you’ve run out of propane. Shut the grill and cross your fingers that the carryover heat will be adequate to finish these babies because, now that you think of it, you’re rather peckish.

Contemplate broiling the steaks in the oven. Discard that idea once it’s determined that another housemate is a couple of cocktails behind and can still drive to the big grocery store to exchange the propane tank. Pour yourself another glass of wine and check on the edamame. Lo and behold they are done. And they are good.

Grilled Edamame

The Art of Assembly

This time of year one’s cooking skills are a bit of a fifth wheel. The produce is so varied and abundant that the real challenge is narrowing it all down to a single meal. From there, it’s mere assembly.

I’m hosting a fancy fundraiser in the Hamptons next weekend, which necessitated a midweek trip to Sagaponack. Turns out that the drive out isn’t so bad if you hit the road at 10:00pm on a Tuesday. By midnight I was in bed munching the last of my blueberries and perusing a magazine.

The next morning was a flurry of espresso and emails. I knocked off in time to hit the amazing Breadzilla for lunch before my noon meeting. In my experience, the Hamptons is rife with overpriced and lackluster food. But I happily forked over $16.50 for the best lobster roll of my life, which I ate on a bench in the adjacent garden. I also picked up a baguette, assuming it would play a roll in the evening’s dinner.

The afternoon was back-to-back meetings. I selected flatware and linens, discussed the logistics of transporting a baby grand piano, and wandered around Wölffer Estate Vineyard with a tape measure while vacationers enjoyed wine flights. I did manage to squeeze in a stop at a farm stand, picking up Italian eggplant, zucchini, young shallots with the green shoots still attached, basil, and some unimaginably sweet small yellow tomatoes. I was saved from buying even more by their cash-only policy. This is what I could get for the $16.50 in my wallet.

Veggies

I got a bit lost trying to take the back roads home, but was rewarded when I passed a fish shop selling all sorts of local delights. Mercifully, they took credit cards, so I was able to pick up a pound of wild sea scallops, a couple of balls of burrata, and a lemon for good measure. I still didn’t know what I was going to make, but it would be hard to go wrong with these ingredients.

The day was a hot one and my last meeting had been on an unshaded terrace. I got back to the house where I was staying around 5:00 and rewarded myself with a dip in the pool.

Another hour of furious emailing and it was off to collect my dear friend Louis at the train station. On the way home, we picked up the two final ingredients for our evening meal: rosé and rosé. We made short work of the first bottle, a Côtes de Provence, while gabbing poolside as the sun set.

Sunset

Time to uncork the next bottle and start assembling dinner. I cut the shallots in half, leaving the green ends intact, and tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper. The scallops got the same treatment, minus the slicing. (Had I been able to locate a grater of some sort, they would have gotten some lemon zest too.) I cut the eggplant and zucchini on the diagonal and added fish sauce and tamari to my simple marinade.

While I fired up the grill, Louis got busy halving the tomatoes, chiffonading a bunch of basil, and pouring another round of wine. Once they were ready, I arranged the grilled veggies and scallops in stripes alongside the tomatoes and burrata, which I tore into hunks. The whole platter got a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and some fresh cracked pepper.

This being a casual and intimate meal, we dined at the kitchen table, each armed with a soup spoon to ladle things onto our plate, a lemon wedge to dress our meal, and a baguette hunk to sop up the juices.

Summer DinnerThe evening concluded with a midnight swim.

The next morning found us back at the kitchen table, where we worked until lunchtime. Then it was off to Breadzilla, where Louis enjoyed the lobster roll while I moved on to the delightful shrimp salad. In the afternoon, I downed an espresso and swam laps, which was a shockingly pleasing combination. A few more hours of work and it was time to bid the pool adieu and head back to the city. But first, one more farm stand…

Louis Melons

Jasmine Melons