· The Hot Line - Newsletter
Jan. 2009: Vietnamese Grilling

January 2009
Welcome | Barbecue Tipster | Recipe of the Month | Meet the Experts | Gotta Have It | Ask Dr.McGrillmeup | Next Issue | The World of Barbecue | Clearance Corner | Monthly Winner | Contact Us
How did your Christmas season go? Manage to get through without disowning any (or all) of the in-laws? Everybody like the barbecue supplies you put in their stockings? Of course they did. If, for some weird reason, you didn't do your shopping at Barbecues Galore this past Christmas season here's what you missed:  - No lineups. None,  - Loads of service (if you wanted it, we'll leave you alone if that's what you want),  - Prices that are the same or better than you'll find at the big box,  - Warm fireplaces heating the store - you can stand in front of them for as long as you want - FREE!  - Free gift wrapping (This isn't an official policy or anything, we just don't have that much else going on at this time of year),  - If you would have clipped your "Free electronic thermometer" coupon from the last newsletter you would have been able to get one of those free too.
A sample of a conversation with one customer over the holidays regarding the free thermometer: Customer: Is this the free thermometer I get with my newsletter coupon? Us: Sure is. Customer: What's wrong with it? Us: Uh, nothing. Customer: Are they broken or something? Us: No...no, they work just fine. I've got one myself, use it all the time. Customer: So, why are you trying to get rid of them? Us: Umm...well, we're not really trying to get rid of them, we just thought it might be a nice gesture to our readers to offer a freebie at Christmas. Customer: Well, if it doesn't work I'm bringing it right back. Us: Sure, no problem. Customer: I'm serious. Us: Ok...got it - you'll bring back the free thermometer if it doesn't work. Is there anything else I can help you with? Customer: Definitely not (customer leaves) Us: Merry Christmas...

It's a new year. Any resolutions? Me, I've decided to eat better. Keep it simple, natural, local. Have you heard of Michael Pollan's latest book? Its call "In Defense of Food: An Eaters Manifesto" (www.michaelpollan.com). He advocates a diet based on the extremely basic phrase: "Eat food, not too much, mostly barbecue." Well, I'm paraphrasing a bit but it's something like that.And what could be a better way to start eating right than by grilling up some pork? Specifically some Vietnamese style pork. I'm sure most of us have been chowing down on some delicious 'bun' in a Vietnamese restaurant and thought: "Man, this pork on here is the business; I wonder what's on here?" Well, thanks to a special guest star, now we know.

Barbecue Tipster
Doing some grilling in really cold weather? Be careful when you're turning on your barbecue. The brass valves have stems that can snap if you force them too hard when they're brittle from the extreme cold. When you first turn your barbecue on, start with one burner and one burner only. Assuming you get it working, put the lid down and let that one burner warm up the entire barbecue for about ten minutes before you try to turn the other valves. If it's really, really cold and the valves won't turn at all - don't force them. Take a hairdryer and an extension cord and blow hot air onto one valve until it loosens up enough to get the barbecue started. A blowtorch will work too but there's also a slight risk of you melting your knobs with a blowtorch. Hey look, a true griller isn't going to let a little frostbite get in the way of a good meal.

Meet the Experts
Son (or "Sonny") has worked in our shipping / receiving department for umpteen years and can, despite a two-pack habit and body mass lower than most members of the twelve-and-under cheerleading squad, can move a LOT of stuff around the warehouse very quickly. Wiry, I suppose you'd call him. Entertaining disposition too. Not sure I've ever met someone so easy to get along with. In the last few years he and his wife have become restauranteurs (that's French for someone that works 24 hours a day). They own a cozy Vietnamese restaurant in the Northwest Calgary called "Vietnamese Beef Stew". Across the street from Sir Winston Churchill High School. Check it out. So, he's our expert when it comes to Vietnamese grilling. We've leaned on him to tell us how to make tasty Vietnamese grilled pork. Check out the "Recipe of the Month" below to see how he did.

Gotta Have It
You've probably been using your fireplace quite a bit during the latest cold weather. You've also probably neglected to clean the glass. And now you're wondering how to get the scummy glass clean again. The answer is: special goop. An efficient gas fireplace that has ceramic, heat-radiating glass requires specific ceramic glass cleaner to remove the white haze. A wood burning fireplace with glass doors requires a special specific wood burning glass cleaner to remove the creosote and black scunge. Using conventional glass cleaners will only move the grime around. Guess what: we carry all the specialty fireplace products you're ever going to need. So, in the interest of keeping things as clean as possible - come in and see us as soon as you can.

Recipe of the Month
Vietnamese Grilled Pork Most of us are used to this pork being chopped into bite sized pieces and served over rice noodles as part of the delicious 'bun' served in Vietnamese restaurants. For the purposes of this exercise we decided to serve larger pieces over rice - that way we get to eat more pork. So, I asked our expert about how we get that salty / sweet, delicious taste on the Vietnamese pork and this is what he said: "Take some soy sauce, add sugar until it tastes like the salt and sugar are balanced. Add some honey. Black pepper for some kick, garlic - so it tastes good - and some oil. Let the pork sit in the mixture for at least an hour - more is better. Grill the pork over a hot barbecue and brush some of the mixture (that you saved before you marinated the pork in it) on the pork while you're grilling." Vague enough for you? Me too. So, in the name of quantification here's what I decided to do: 2 Tablespoons brown sugar 2 Tablespoons honey 2 Cloves chopped garlic 1 Tablespoon chopped ginger 1 Cup soy sauce 1 Star anise pounded 1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon 1 Tablespoon cooking oil 1 Teaspoon black pepper 1 pound of pork loin cut as thin as possible

Assemble your ingredients.

Be careful of any unwanted assistance.

Smash your star anise pods (this is easily my favorite part - the kitchen smells great when you do this).

Finely chop your garlic and ginger.

Mix all the ingredients (other than the pork) in a bowl and mix well.

Pour 2/3 of the marinade into freezer bags with the pork. Save the remaining 1/3 of the marinade for basting while you're grilling.

Grill the pork over high heat. Don't turn your back on it, this isn't slow roasting. When the pork loin is thin like this it only takes minutes to cook. Baste with the reserved sauce while you're grilling.

Top with some ground peanuts and cilantro and enjoy. In our case we served over a bed of coconut rice with grilled chayote squash and some vegetables I'd never heard of (and won't buy again) that I bought at the Asian supermarket.
The verdict? Well...the pork was super-scrumptious but, to be honest, it didn't taste one little bit like the pork I've eaten at Vietnamese restaurants. Not at all. You know what? I think Sonny's holding out on me. Maybe there's some sort of secret code among Vietnamese chefs - "What happens with the bun, stays with the bun" or something like that. Anyhow - we'll keep trying.

Ask Dr.McGrillmeup
Question What kind of barbecues do they use in Vietnam? W. Orldly

Answer Dear W. Full confession here: I've never been to Vietnam. It's one of those places that's on my list but doesn't seem to be squirreling its way to the top with any alacrity. I can't blame the French or the commies from keeping me out anymore can I? Maybe I should scratch the "Cruise the Coast of Somalia" trip and the "Magadishu by Night" junket off of my list and give Vietnam some breathing room? Yeah, probably. Anyway, I'm told by Sonny that we barbecue retailers wouldn't get rich selling barbecues in Vietnam (well, at least not the eye-popping, envy of the world, Rowling-esque "rich" like we've grown accustomed to here in Canada). The barbecues in Vietnam are typically of the homemade variety and are universally small, cheap, and use charcoal. One feature worth pointing out is that they are all topless; no lids in sight. This isn't great if you're slow roasting a pork shoulder for 15 hours but it's ideal for flash grilling small, tender pieces of meat. Yum. Also, it's interesting to me that there's always some type of fan near the grill. Either a hand-held fan or an electric version. Sonny tells me there are two uses for the fan, 1) keep the fire burning hot and 2) keep the smoke out of the grillers' face. Crafty eh?

The World of Barbecue
  In our own little corner of the Barbecue universe, we've got some very exciting news: we've moved our Burlington store into palatial new digs. About five times the space (yes, I'm serious), brand-spankin' new and (finally) a chance to show Burlington what we're really all about. Come into #1 3100 Harvester Road and check out the beautiful burning fireplace displays and all the other new product. We'll tell you more about it in the coming months.

Nathalie from Calgary sent in her barbecue-gypsy pictures. In one shot she's at her father-in-law's cooking on his Vermont Castings barbecue. In another shot her husband is cooking on her father's Weber. (Please feel free to make your own "rooster" jokes based on his apron - email me with any that you're particularly proud of. In the interests of public morality I've self-censored on this one.) She assures us that she actually does have a barbecue of her own but thinks it might win our annual "Worst Barbecue in Canada" contest this year. Great smile Nathalie, thanks for sharing.
Be like Nathalie: Send us a picture and / or story of you (or a friend of yours, or enemy of yours) grilling and we'll send you a $25 gift certificate usable in any of our four stores.

Here are some of the staff lunches we had around the stores over the past few weeks:

Seranda and her professional-chef husband Harold (cheater!) grilled up a landmark feast of gourmet chicken wings. Cloth napkins - la tee da.

Stacy cooked macaroni and cheese on the barbecue. Did you know we could do that? I didn't know we could do that...
Steve slow cooked ribs for about five hours. It was thirty below zero outside so he cooked them in the warehouse. Our warehouse has NEVER smelled that good.
Les grilled up some flank steak that had been marinating over night in red wine and garlic. (We've talked about this before: if you're not grilling flank steak on a regular basis you're living in a state of needless denial.) Apparently there were some 'vegetables' or something too.

Monthy Winner
Every single month, we randomly draw four winning names (one per store) from our newsletter mailing list. We only post the winning names below so you've got to keep your eyes peeled each month. If you win, you can claim your prize by stopping by the Barbecues Galore in your area with your photo identification. Barney Hunsperger (Calgary South) Larry Pettit (Calgary North) David Smith (Burlington) Julian Wise (Oakville)
 Next Issue
Next month we're talking Texas barbecue. We're going to spend some time talking about grilling in the Lone Star State. We're trying to get Willie Nelson to guest star. If that doesn't happen we're hoping for a few of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Stay tuned.

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Contact Us We want to hear from you. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at: query@barbecuesgalore.ca. An archive of our past newsletters can be found at www.barbecuesgalore.ca. Despite the incredibly valuable content the newsletters are free of charge and you can access them at anytime day or night.

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