Today’s recipe is my second and final contribution to Fandom Foodies‘ theme of the month: #XMenu. Hosted by Heather over at Food n’ Flix, this recipe round-up celebrates the dysfunctional but lovable family of mutant heroes and anti-heroes: The X-Men.
Since every family get-together requires some form of libations, this round-up not only features food, but cocktails inspired by our favorite leather and spandex-clad characters. Click here to join the fun!
Speaking of booze, it’s about time I got to the subject of our post: James Howlett…
…Who? You’re probably thinking. Some of you may know him as Logan, but most of you will know him as Wolverine.
Wolverine was born as James Howlett, the illegitimate son of farmhand Thomas Logan, in Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada during the late 1880’s. Since then, his body’s ability to quickly and consistently heal enabled him into an ageless state. He’s served in the Canadian military during World War II before settling for a short time in Japan. He’s apparently worked with Captain America during this time, too.
Later after his time being a captive in the Weapon X program (and having his retractable bone claws infused with adamantium), he joined the X-Men. While his body’s healing ability kicked in to accelerate by blocking out large amounts of mental trauma from a life of loss and physical pain, it doesn’t stop him from chasing it further away with a strong pull of whiskey.
So for today’s recipe, I wanted to make a dish that Wolverine might enjoy to remember his family both past and present, with flavors and imagery that speak of home. I give you Beef Kushiyaki with Whisky-Maple Tare sauce OR as my husband likes to call them: Wolverine’s Snikt-Kabobs.
Alberta is located in western Canada, bordering the US state of Montana, and is known for its prairies and mountains. It’s also known for its bison, and more notably it’s cattle industry. Feel free to use bison if you can find it. It will take less time to cook depending on the cut you find. For simplicity, I suggest slicing your pieces about 1/2-inch thick. I used beef sirloin strip steak for this recipe.
Kushiyaki is the Japanese term used for all foods skewered and then grilled. Tare sauce, most commonly used for teriyaki is a sauce made with soy sauce, mirin, and sugar – reduced down to a glossy sheen from the sugar. Traditionally this sauce is made with sake, which I decided to forgo to use Canadian whiskey because duh, Wolverine. To add a further Canuck twist on this Nihonryōri favorite, I used maple syrup instead of sugar.
To be fair, the syrup I used is from Vermont, but gods it’s delicious. There are times I absolutely love having a pilot for a roommate. This time is one of them. I further enhanced the sauce with garlic and ginger to add depth and one savory, spicy punch.
And of course, no round of skewers is complete without vegetables! I used green onions because grilled green onions taste uncannily delicious. I also julienned some yellow bell pepper to add and remind him of that special, “x-factor.” And by “x,” I mean the constant variable that now and always equal his present home and family: The X-Men.
This dish is perfect for geeky parties and cook-outs if you are looking to gather your own brotherhood of mutants together this summer. You can even make a large batch of sauce ahead of time that also tastes delicious on chicken, fish, and portobello mushroom caps if you want a little more variety to your menu.
The steak grills up pretty quickly, so keep a close eye on it and only handle the skewers with tongs while they are hot. You can play at being Wolverine with kabob claws AFTER they have cooled as you probably don’t have super healing abilities.
So here it is, a mouth-watering tribute to the angry, clawed wonder: Thomas “Logan” Howlett, The Wolverine.
Wolverine's Teriyaki Snikt-Kabobs
Equipment: Stovetop, grill or grill pan, small saucepan with lid, 8 small or 4 large metal BBQ skewers, tongs, pastry brush.
- 2 sirloin strip steaks
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 6 green onions
- 1/2 cup Canadian whiskey
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- kosher salt and black pepper
- cooked rice for serving.
Prep your ingredients and skewers:
- Slice the dark green ends of the green onions diagonally with a sharp knife and place them in a separate bowl. They will be used to garnish your skewers and rice later. Cut off the root ends from the white parts and discard. Thinly slice one of the onions, and cut the others into 1-inch long segments. You should have at least two per skewer.
- Cut the sides off the bell pepper by placing the edge of the blade along the side of the stem and slicing straight down, avoiding the seeds. Discard the stem and seeds. Chop off the top and bottom of each side so you are left with a rectangle. Slice the rectangle into segments 1/2-inch wide.
- Cut your steaks in half length-wise, then into eight, two-inch long pieces.
- Place vegetables and meat on the skewers in the following order: two bell pepper, one steak, two green onion, one steak, two bell pepper. Repeat if using large skewers. Season both sides with kosher salt and pepper, place on a plate or tray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you are making the sauce and heating up the grill.
Make your sauce:
- Combine the whiskey, soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic, ginger paste, and sliced green onion in the small saucepan on the stovetop and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat to a simmer. Dissolve the cornstarch and mirin in a separate container and pour into the saucepan.
- Simmer until the sauce thickens and makes glossy bubbles. Remove from heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.
Grill ’em up:
- Allow your grill to heat up to on medium to high heat. Wrap ends of skewers with tinfoil if you need a better surface for your tongs to grip.
- Grill the skewers on one side for about 3 minutes and flip with a pair of tongs. Baste a layer of sauce and grill another 3 minutes. Flip again, baste, grill another minute and remove.
- Serve skewers with cooked rice and garnish with green onion. Pour the remaining sauce into dishes to serve on the side for dipping or drizzling.