Cooking meat, seafood, fish and poultry over small fires has been a popular and fuel-efficient practice throughout Asia for eons. Often the item to be grilled is first prepared with spices, marinades and rubs that take advantage of the large pantry of flavorful ingredients such as fish sauce, soy sauce, coconut, chilies, ginger and ground nuts as well as lemongrass and fresh turmeric, says meat expert and cookbook author Bruce Aidells, who created these recipes for Real Food. Inspired by these ingredients, the following recipes are sure to spice up your summer grilling.
Flat iron steak comes from the shoulder (chuck) end of the beef. It is the second-most tender muscle after the tenderloin and has a deep, beefy flavor that is well complemented by a strongly flavored marinade, says Aidells, noting that this marinade is spicy but toned down a bit from typical Thai marinades. If hot and spicy is not your thing, then he suggests you leave out the Sriracha chili sauce. The marinade gets many of its exotic flavors from the Thai green curry paste that is sold in the Asian section of the grocery store. The flavors and spicy heat of this paste vary by brand, so start with a little and add more to suit your taste. Plan ahead: It’s best to marinate the meat for at least 12 hours in the refrigerator or as long as 24 hours.
Serve the steak with Spicy Peanut Slaw (recipe below) or a green mango salad. Aidells also likes to serve Jasmine rice to help absorb some of the heat and round out the meal.
And what about a beverage pairing? “Because of the higher acid and chili flavors of this marinade, I always serve it with cold beer rather than wine—my favorite being Singha from Thailand,” says Aidells. “Ice tea is also a good beverage, which can be spruced up with a little rum if you so choose.”
Thai Marinated Flat Iron Steak
Makes 4 Servings
4 flat iron steaks (about 6 to 8 ounces each)
For the Thai Marinade
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nan pla or nuoc nam)
1 teaspoon Thai green curry paste, or more to taste
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sweet basil
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro, stems and leaves
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped sweet basil, for garnish
- Place steaks in a large zipper-lock bag. Combine marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Set 3 tablespoons of the marinade aside and pour the rest of the marinade over the meat and seal the bag. Marinate for at least 12 hours in the refrigerator or as long as 24 hours. Shake and turn the bag occasionally to redistribute the marinade.
- Remove steaks from marinade and pat them dry. Discard the marinade. Grill steaks over medium-hot coals in a covered or uncovered barbecue or directly over the flame in a gas grill. Flat iron steaks are best cooked medium-rare to medium, which is an internal temperature range of 125° to 140°F. This should take about 4 to 6 minutes per side. For medium-rare, remove when steaks are about 120°F in the center when tested with an instant-read thermometer. For medium, the steak will take a little longer and register 130° to 135°F. Remove steaks and transfer to a warm platter to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Slice steaks into diagonal slices across the grain and arrange on a platter. Pour over the reserved marinade, garnish with the basil and serve at once.
Cook’s Note: This marinade is also good with flank steaks, top round (often sold as London broil), sirloin steaks and skirt steak.
Spicy Peanut Slaw
Makes 6 Servings
½ medium green cabbage, about 1½ pounds, cored and shredded
3 cups shredded Napa cabbage
2 carrots, shredded
6 green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup chunky natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons Asian sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce, or more to taste
2 tablespoons lime juice plus more to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup dry roasted peanuts
- Toss all the vegetables in a large bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients except the peanuts. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss until all the vegetables are well coated with the dressing. Taste for salt, pepper and additional lemon juice.
- Place in a serving bowl, sprinkle the peanuts on top. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 8 hours before serving. Any leftovers will keep, covered and refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.
Nutrition info (per serving)
• Flat Iron Steak: Calories 355 (206 From Fat); Fat 23g (Sat. 8g); Chol 93mg; Sodium 796mg; Carb 3g; Fiber 0g; Protein 32g
• Spicy Peanut Slaw: Calories 312 (235 From Fat); Fat 27g (Sat. 4g); Chol 8mg; Sodium 232mg; Carb 15g; Fiber 5g; Protein 6g