Thu May 24, 2012
It's Memorial Day, and that means you're grilling! There's no question about that, but are you set to be the master grill host? Last year I gave a rundown of some helpful tips I've picked up over the years on throwing a killer backyard barbecue, and of those, one of the most important is being prepared with food when people arrive. The awkwardness of friends showing up hungry and having to wait for you to heat the grill and then actually cook can be painful, so it's best to have that sucker fired up with some items that can be grilled in hurry to start feeding those growling stomaches. Thinly cut flank steak skewers are a favorite of mine to accomplish this task, and this beef teriyaki version is a surefire crowd pleaser.
I grabbed this recipe from recipe developer extraordinaire Kenji at Serious Eats, who starts off with making the teriyaki sauce with a few twists. Labeling the recipe "tiki-style," it diverts from Japanese teriyaki and adds in some Americanized flavors, like pineapple juice, green onions, and garlic that gets simmered with the more traditional sake, mirin, and shoyu combo. An hour cook to reduce the sauce ensures its flavor is fully developed and super concentrated.
Then comes the steak of choice for skewers like these—flank. Flank is economical, but that doesn't mean it lacks flavor. Quite the opposite, it's a great, beefy cut, but with the trade off that it can be tough. For Meatmasters like ourselves, this is no problem though, because we know that if you slice it just right—thinly against the grain—this chewy piece of beef is nothing by tender and delicious.
The slices of beef get placed in bag and the teriyaki sauce is poured in. With such heavy flavors working on thin slices of meat, only a couple hours are needed for the marinade to do its magic.
Next the slices of beef are threaded onto skewers soaked in water for at least 30 minutes—this prevents the wood from burning up over the hot fire. Now you're completely ahead of the game, with the skewers all ready to go for when the first guest arrives.
When they do, it'll only be minutes between them and some fresh, hot beef. It takes only a couple minutes per side to get a nice sear over hight heat, and the beef is so thin that by the time that happens, it's cooked through. A final brush of some reserved sauce finishes them off before handing them over to the masses.
If you've every been to an American-Chinese restaurant and ordered the beef skewers to start, you already know what these are all about and how addictive they are. A sweet and salty glistening sauce encases the beefy flank, coming together in marriage of flavors that's impossible to resist. The only problem is that they're so good and so easy to keep eating, they're gone incredibly quick, but that's not problem, because you have plenty more meat for the next course, and the one after that, and the one after that, because after all, you are a true Meatwaver.
Happy grilling to all this Memorial Day!
Beef Teriyaki Skewers
Adapted from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
- Prep Time:
- 1 Hour 15 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 1 Hour
- Cook Time:
- 5 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 2 Hours 20 Minutes
- 4-6 servings
- 1/2 cup sake
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 1 cup Japanese shoyu (soy sauce)
- 1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 6 scallions, roughly chopped
- 1 pound beef flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain into 1/8th to 1/4-inch strips
- Combine sake, mirin, shoyu, 1 cup pineapple juice, sugar, garlic, carrot, and scallion greens in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, whisk to combine, and cook until the mixture is syrupy and reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 1 hour. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and allow to cool slightly.
- Combine remaining 1/2 cup pineapple juice with 1/2 cup reduced sauce and pour into a gallon-sized zipper-lock bag. Add sliced beef to bag and turn to coat. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 4.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place skewers on grill and cook without moving until charred, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is well charred, about 2 minutes longer. Brush with sauce, and allow them to cook for 15 seconds longer. Transfer to a plate, brush with more sauce, and serve, passing extra sauce at the table.