When trying to decide what to recommend for a good father's day menu, I had trouble narrowing down my options. With Fred*, it's easy: fresh seafood, preferably caught by himself. He does the catching, I do the cooking, we all do the eating. Unfortunately, it's not all that useful for me to go and tell you guys unlucky enough to have a non-fisherman as a father to teach him to fish by this weekend so that you can cook up some half-assed menu you found online for his special day.
* That'd be my dad. Dunno why we've always called him Fred other than that it's his name. What I do know is that my sister once went to her neighbors apartment and asked them where their Keiko and Fred were, thinking it was the generic term for all parental figures.
So rather than press my own ichthyologically-inclined prejudices upon you, I decided instead to take a cue from the Serious Eats team and put together a menu that draws from some of their fathers' favorite dishes. And since its grilling season, I stuck with things that are back-yard friendly, along with a couple of easy make-ahead desserts. It's a bit of a hodge podge, but a seriously delicious hodge podge nonetheless.
First Course: Korean Barbecue
My dad seriously loves Korean barbecue, even more so these days not that he's gone all low-carb on us. Grilling on a metal plate set i your table at the restaurant is a nice enough way to do it, but for the best flavor, you really need to cook your meat directly over real burning coals. It's the only way to get the thin strips of ribeye or short rib to char before drying out.
There are a handful of restaurants in Queens that'll let you cook with real coal (against all fire codes, I'm sure), but even better is to do it in your own backyard. Check out this awesome recipe for bulgogi.
Vegetable: Grilled Asparagus, Zucchini, and Bread Salad with Olive-Caper Dressing
This is the time of year for asparagus and zucchini, and luckily they're also some of Fred's favorites. This grilled asparagus and zucchini salad is a take on panzanella, but rather than using day old bread, I slather mine in olive oil and grill it first before tearing it up and tossing it with a punchy caper-olive vinaigrette.
The best part is that this salad gets better with age as the vinaigrette soaks into all the ingredients. I like to make mine at least a day ahead and let it come back up to room temperature before serving.
Main Course: The Ultimate Burger
Nothing says dads and summer like grilling big fat juicy burgers and the backyard grill, and there's no bigger, fatter, juicier burger I know than the incredible blue-cheese-topped specimen at The Spotted Pig in New York. Here's my attempt to recreate it at home. I think I come pretty darn close, if I do say so myself.
Pre-Dessert: Rum Raisin Ice Cream
According to Carey, her dad's favorite ice cream flavor is rum raisin, and his favorite rum raisin ice cream is the one that Carey makes for him herself. The key to her smooth, creamy concoction? A heavy hand with the booze. Not only does adding alcohol to your ice cream base prevent it from forming ice crystals or freezing too hard, It also makes sure that the receiver in is a more fit state to dole out compliments once the bowl is knocked back.
Here's Carey's Favorite Rum Raisin Ice Cream recipe. For easy entertaining, make the ice cream a few days in advance. All you need to do is pull it out of the freezer long enough to thaw and scoop.
Dessert: Eton Mess
Sweets Editor Carrie's dad is an unabashed anglophile, and there are few simpler, tastier, Brit-ier desserts in the summer than a good Eton Mess—an easy-to-throw-together pile of crumbled meringue cookies, whipped cream, and berries. It comes together in about five minutes, which is a good thing, considering all the rum you just downed.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.