Korean-Style Grilled Skirt Steak
My beef cut of choice is the tenderloin. If it were up to me, I would only get the tenderloin – not a lot of fat AND tender. But as a benevolent wife and partner, I let my husband pick the cut sometimes. I love the buttery texture of tenderloin. But My husband goes more for flavor than texture. And he thinks cuts other than the tenderloin are more flavorful. One of his favorite cuts of meat is the skirt steak. He loves the “fatty” flavor of it. So I get it once in a while.
As you may have guessed or already know, skirt steak is not the most tender of cuts. But it’s not a lost cause. You can do a few things to make the meat more tender to the bite.
You should grill or sear your skirt steak to about medium-rare. If you grill it longer, it will become dry and tougher to chew. But if you are like me, and like your steak slightly on the more done side, you can add some natural tenderizer to the marinade to break up the collagen in the meat. I add about half of a kiwi (puréed) to the marinade as a tenderizer. Raw kiwi is rich in actinidin, a protein-dissolving enzyme. But be careful. If left in the kiwi marinade for too long, the meat can become mushy.
You should also allow the the meat to rest for about 5-7 minutes for the juices to redistribute. Cut into it too fast, all of the juices will come pouring out and result in a dry steak. While it’s resting, I sprinkle some chopped green onions on top. The warmth of the steak wilts the green onions just right.
But the most obvious and easiest thing to do is to cut the meat thinly against the grain at a slight angle – although the angle cutting doesn’t add too much to the texture due to the thinness of this cut.
If you look at a skirt steak, there are obvious fibers (or grains) that run perpendicular to the length of the steak. The natural inclination for most would be to cut along the grain since the grain runs along the shorter side of the steak. But resist the temptation. Your jaw and temples would get way too much exercise if you don’t; you would have to chew for a looooong period of time for the pieces to break down into acceptable sizes for you to swallow. You are basically doing the work that your teeth would have to do by cutting the long fiber (with pretty high tensile strength!) into shorter lengths.
So cut the skirt steak into about 3 inch pieces first. Then cut the meat into thin slices against the grain at an angle – by 45 degrees – by using a fork and a sharp knife. You can hold the fork at an angle to guide the knife.
You will end up with a very flavorful and tender skirt steak. Enjoy!
Korean Sweet-Soy Sauce Marinated Skirt Steak Recipe
Serves 2-3 people
1 lb skirt steak
3 TB tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
1 1/2 TB agave nectar (or sugar)
1 TB mirin (or other cooking wine)
1 TB toasted sesame seed oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 – 1 tsp black pepper
canola or grapeseed oil (something w/ a high smoking point)
toasted sesame seeds
chopped green onions
1/2 kiwi, puréed*
- If necessary, prep the meat by removing any tough membrane or fat that surrounds the skirt steak. Prepare the marinade by stirring together tamari, agave nectar, mirin, sesame seed oil, minced garlic, and black pepper. If you are using a kiwi, add it to the marinade. Mix well. Place the skirt steak in a shallow bowl or a large ziploc bag. Pour this marinade over the steak. Seal and marinate for at least 2-3 hours. You can also marinate overnight.
- Heat an iron skillet, other heavy-bottomed pan, or a grill over medium-high heat. Add about a tablespoon of oil to the pan. Swirl to coat the pan. Take the steak out the marinade. Shake off excess marinade. Discard the used marinade. Add the steak to the pan and cook on one side for about 3 minutes. Once it is nicely seared or has well-developed grill marks, flip it over. Cook on the other side for about 3 minutes.
- Remove the steak from heat. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds and/or chopped green onions if desied. Tent the steak to keep it warm. You can use aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for about 5-7 minutes. Cut the steak into manageable pieces – about 3-inch pieces. Cut against the grain at an angle into thin pieces. If necessary, salt to taste. Serve with some steamed rice or over a salad.
* If you prefer the steak pink, instead of medium-rare, you can add about 30 seconds – 1 minute of cooking time on each side. If you choose to do this, I recommend you add some puréed kiwi to tenderize the meat.