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Los Angeles grilling etiquette

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I have a slightly odd but pressing question about grilling etiquette. My wife and I just moved here from Manhattan, where you don't need to worry about such things unless you're rich enough to have a patio or a yard. We weren't. But now that we live in the slightly more civilized milieu of Palms, we can afford a parking space-sized cement enclosure out back. You all know the arrangement: duplex apartments packed together like sardines, neck-high fences and zero privacy. We have done our best to nurture a vegetable garden on our plot, but we want more--we want to grill. The question is, are we going to alienate ourselves from our neighbors by filling the air with charcoal smoke and the scent of Vietnamese pork chops? How do Angelenos navigate this ethical maze? Or should I just relax and grill to my heart's content?

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  1. I don't know, but could you please post the recipe for Vietnamese pork chops?

    5 Replies
    1. re: David Kahn

      Gladly. I just hope experts on Vietnamese food don't laugh--this is just the way I make them...
      You don't necessarily have to use chops; I find that any thin-sliced, relatively lean cut will do.
      The marinade consists of 1 stalk of lemongrass, minced and pounded; 2 garlic cloves, minced and pounded; 5 small, red shallots, given the same treatment; 2 tablespoon fish sauce; 1 teaspoon sugar; 1/2 tsp black pepper; 1 tbsp sesame oil; and 1 tsp sesame seeds. Coat the pork thoroughly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. While the pork is marinating, make a dipping sauce with a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, 1 finely minced clove of garlic and a couple of minced bird chilies (or more, depending on how macho you are). Grill the pork quickly and get a nice caramelized crust. I guess the traditional way to eat this is with rice vermicelli and a garnish of bean sprouts and basil. I usually make a big batch and keep them around for sandwiches and such. Spanish and Vietnamese culinary purists will roll their eyes, but they're really good with warm roasted red peppers on a baguette.

      1. re: Nhowe

        Thanks -- this sounds great! BTW, I agree with the other comments above. You should go ahead and fire up the grill. Probably a good idea to keep a decent fire extinguisher around though. While your neighbors probably won't mind the smoke from the grill, I can pretty much guarantee that they'll be pissed off if you start a fence or a building on fire. (Speaking from personal experience, there is nothing quite like the feeling one gets from having a good fire extinguisher handy when it is needed).

        1. re: David Kahn

          Speaking from experience there nothing like setting your neighbor's bush on fire while playing with booze and fireworks. ;-)

          1. re: Chino Wayne

            Thanks for the support, guys. Tomorrow night, I'm going to get totally wasted, light off some fireworks, and grill up a bunch of sausages late at night. This place is a lot more like my folk's town in New Hampshire than I ever hoped. (I'll get a fire extinguisher first, though.)

            1. re: Nhowe

              So what time should we show up?

    2. Angelenos grill a lot, and I've never heard of anyone having complaints from neighbors--because they're all grilling, too. Of course, GAS GRILLS might be better for the environment, but if you have to stick with charcoal, by all means, grill away.

      1. As someone else said, grill away. I used to live in Palms (in one of the many cluster of apt. buildings on one of the streets off of Charnock) and I never had a problem with BBQ. Actually, it was a good way of meeting others in the building as we regularly shared Barbecue.

        1. Fire it up. I used to live in an apartment on Mentone in Palms and would set up my little hibachi grill right outside the door to me apartment, which was right next to my neighbor's door and at the foot of the stairs to a couple of the upstairs apartments. We also had a "deck" that was the roof of the carport, and the neighbors in the building and I would grill up there. Hell, wafting grilling fumes might lead some neighbors to decide to befriend you.

          1. I agree, fire it up. Just a few cautions from prior experience: please don't use half a bottle of fuel starter on your coals, it stinks up the place. Buy the ready-light kind or get an electronic or newspaper fuel starter. And, don't dump the coals in the dumpster and then go out for the night (I know, you wouldn't do that, but my neighbors once did and I had to put it out...)