Also, I’m thinking about my Pop, a decorated soldier and U.S. spy who paid the ultimate price, albeit decades later. He’s in Arlington National Cemetery now. He died in 2009 from a blood cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure, acquired while he was doing field work before the war in Vietnam. I don’t know how the timeframe worked in those events, but the government paid for his final healthcare, so that strikes me as an admission of culpability.
But I digress. Rather than wave a white flag and surrender to the sense of loss as I could around Father’s Day—like others of you who’ve also lost your dads—I’d rather focus on the good stuff. By that, I mean Pop’s enjoyment of cooking and of food. And how, for some reason, he loved cooking Korean Ribs on the 4th of July.
He did have a perverse streak, which I might have inherited, but you can’t fault him for his good taste. As a teenager in southern Ohio in the 1950s, he was probably a major stakeholder in the entire Chinese American population of that area. His folks owned a Chinese restaurant that was known for its good ol’ American steaks. Go figure. But he certainly knew his food.
So it was a surprise to me later when he said, “Emily, don’t be a chef. And don’t go into the military either.” I was a kid who was used to being told I could do anything I wanted to when I grew up. His request was a shock to me because he’d never stated a preference like that before. No military, no problem. (My Air Force Academy experience is a story for another day.) However I had been considering applying to culinary school.
But Pop had never failed me before in the advice department, so I listened to him. Do I regret it? Not at all. And anyway, I still have his recipe.
* 1/2 cup soy sauce
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 6 cloves garlic, minced
* 3 scallions chopped
* 3 tablespoons sherry
* 2 tablespoons sesame oil
* 2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
* 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
PREPARATION: In a bowl dissolve sugar in soy sauce and sherry. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Marinate meat for about 1 hour.
NOTE: Pop preferred English cut or flanken style short ribs. If you can find a butcher who knows what this means, more power to you.
I’m not usually this serious. See for yourself.