You won’t often see a cosmopolitan spin or fusion of cuisine in Appalachia. This is unfortunate, because the flavors of their native foods lend themselves to experimentation, and elk is no exception. I find salty soy sauce, sweet sake, and earthy Asian spices make elk sing.
If you haven’t tried elk (or deer) with an Asian flair, I highly recommend this recipe. I have eaten lots of elk and deer prepared different ways, but this has been my favorite preparation, hands down.
4 elk chops, thick cut (should weigh a little over 1 pound)
3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
1½ teaspoons mirin (sweetened sake)
1½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
1½ teaspoons rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon sriracha sauce
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Splash of canola oil
2 tablespoons minced ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
Place the elk chops in a large resealable plastic bag. Whisk together the marinade ingredients, then pour into the plastic bag with the chops and let the meat marinate for a minimum of fifteen minutes or as long as two hours. Remove the chops from the marinade and set on a baking sheet while you prepare the sauce.
For the sauce, heat the oil in small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and sauté for about 1 minute, then add the garlic and continue to cook for another 30 seconds. Pour in the reserved marinade and reduce the heat to medium. Stir occasionally as you reduce the sauce by half.
As the sauce is reducing, turn on the broiler element in your oven and place the oven rack in the highest position. Place the baking sheet with the shops under the broiler and broil about 4 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the other. Do not overcook elk, as it is very lean and will become tough in a hurry.
Remove the chops and let rest for about 2 minutes, then plate. Spoon the sauce over the chops, sprinkle with Chinese parsley and lemon zest, and serve with your favorite Asian vegetable.