Fri Jun 27, 2008
Have I mentioned before how much I love kabobs? If I haven't, let me take a second to profess the deepest affection that I have for these sticks of meat. Kabobs done right are just about everything I want out of a grilled food: they're loaded with flavor; they grill fast; they maximize the surface area of the food, which creates more opportunity for wonderful caramelization over the high heat; and they seem to get everyone crowded around the grill, cooking their own food like nothing else can. I realized for all the kabobs I've made, I have not done them justice on the blog, so we're about to go all kabob crazy up in here, coming at you with one kabob recipe after another. First up is an Asian beef skewer, which might not actually be a true kabob, but it's been a mainstay in my repertoire year after year, continually being a Meatwaver favorite, so that makes it number one on my list to share out to the masses.
The greatness of these skewers are their simplicity. The marinade is a fairly standard mixture of Asian flavors: hoisin, soy sauce, sherry, green onions, garlic, ginger, and some barbecue sauce to round it out. These are all ingredients that I normally have on hand in the house, or can easily get at any supermarket, making it an easy marinade to whip up at anytime, which might be one reason it's been a constant go-to skewer.
Then adding to the greatness is the call for flank steak. Up there with skirt steak, flank is one of my favorites to grill. This relatively inexpensive cut of beef is perfect for searing over extremely high heat because it cooks fast and remains tender with a nice beefy flavor. The secret to flank steak (and skirt as well) is to cut it against the grain, which is how to retain its tenderness. So for the skewers, I sliced the steak on a bias, against the grain, to create slices about 1/4" thick and 2" wide. Along with ensuring tenderness, this size cut also created a large surface area that would later be the bed for the intense caramelization that will occur when grilled.
That's all there is to these skewers, a simple marinade and properly cut strips of flank steak. Now it was just a matter of combining the two and playing the waiting game. I let these sit in fridge overnight, ensuring that as much of the marinade seeped into the meat as possible, flipping the bag a few times to make sure all the strips of steak were getting their fair share of the flavor party that was going on.
After a good night's rest, it was time to skewer. I always use bamboo skewers, but a word of caution in using these, always soak them for at least 30 minutes before threading kabobs. Bamboo skewers will easily catch fire and burn away over the grill, they need to be probably water logged to avoid this, and then they're still only good for quicker cooking kabobs, ones that take about 15 minutes or less to grill. After my skewers were properly soaked, I threaded the meat on by folding each strip of steak over 3 times, pressing the skewer through the middle, then spreading the beef out along the stick.
With the all the meat skewered, it was off to the grill. Over the highest heat, these cooked as quickly as 1-2 minutes per side, but as the heat subsided to its normal medium-high, they took 3-4 minutes per side. The sweet marinade on these big flat pieces of beef created a steak encrusted in an intense Asian flavor. The Meatwaver response to these this time around was the same as always, everyone reveled in the taste and the uninitiated wanted to know what was causing such joy to come to there taste buds. So I told them, and they were taken aback when finding out that such a simple marinade resulted in the deepest of flavor. I really enjoy this reaction, and partner that with the ease and low cost of making these Asian beef skewers, they will not be coming off my menu anytime soon.
Asian Beef Skewers
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons sherry
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon barbecue sauce
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
In a small bowl, mix together hoisin sauce, sherry, soy sauce, barbecue sauce, green onions, garlic, and ginger.
Cut flank steak across grain on a diagonal into 1/4 inch slices. Place slices in a 1 gallon resealable plastic bag. Pour hoisin sauce mixture over slices, and mix well. Refrigerate 2 hours, or overnight.
Light 1 chimney full of charcoal and when the charcoal is all lit and covered in gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over the charcoal grate.
Discard marinade, and thread steak on skewers.
Oil the grill grate. Grill skewers 3 minutes per side, or to desired doneness.