Grilled Beef Teriyaki

I’ve never really been a steak person (aside from the occasional grilled ribeye in the summer), but in the past few months I’ve fallen in love with flank steak. It’s really flavorful, and when cooked properly and thinly sliced against the grain it’s incredibly tender too. I’m not as in love with the price – it’s pretty expensive here – but most of the time it’s still cheaper for me to buy flank steak than it is to pick up two ribeye steaks. Since we don’t eat red meat all that often, I’m ok with splurging every once in a while to get what I really like. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen flank steak on sale but if/when I do, I’ll be stocking my freezer with enough to last us a while, especially since any beef recipe I bookmark lately seems to call for it (including my most recent addition to the list)!

Grilled Beef Teriyaki

When I think of beef teriyaki the first thing that comes to mind is the version that’s served on a stick at some Chinese take-out restaurants. It’s never been my favorite – too chewy and not enough teriyaki flavor. Happily, this homemade version is a massive improvement in every way. The steak is cut into strips and marinated in a mixture of (among other things) soy sauce, mirin, garlic, ginger and orange zest which makes it really tender. And no worries, it only needs 30 minutes to marinate so no need to plan in advance. I can never remember to marinate the night before when recipes call for 24 hours :) The meat is quickly seared on the grill and in the last minute of cooking is brushed with a homemade teriyaki sauce that’s made with just a few simple ingredients. There’s plenty of extra sauce for serving too, in case you like to soak your rice with it as I do! I liked this dish more with every bite, I probably looked over at Shane 2 or 3 times to say “this is really good,” and since he cleaned his plate in record time, I think he agreed.

Grilled Beef Teriyaki
barely adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

(Note: you can substitute sirloin steak tips (not the ones already cut into strips, the whole steak) – it’s sometimes also called flap meat for the flank steak.)

Steak
1 lb flank steak, trimmed of excess fat
1/6 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 scallion, white parts minced and green parts sliced thin on bias, separated

Sauce
1/6 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sake or vermouth
1/4 cup mirin
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Place the steak on your work surface with the long side facing you. Cut the steak into 2 or 3 pieces (do 2 unless the steak is over 12 inches long, then do 3). With the knife at a 45-degree angle, cut each of those pieces into 4 or 5 slices that are about 1/2-inch thick. (If you have a subscription to the CI website, you can find pics of the cutting process here.)

Add the soy sauce, mirin, canola oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, orange zest and the white parts of the scallion in a resealable plastic bag. Shake to combine. Add the meat, press out the air and seal the bag. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (but no more than an hour), flipping the bag every 15 minutes to make sure the marinade gets all of the meat equally.

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (400-450 F). Oil the grates lightly (I use the tongs to hold a paper towel that’s been dipped in oil and rub it over the grates).

While the grill preheats make the sauce. Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce is syrupy, about 12 minutes. The sauce should be reduced to about 1/2 cup. Transfer all but 2 tablespoons of the sauce to a small bowl and set aside for serving.

Remove the meat from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Place the meat on the grill and cook on the first side for about 3 minutes, or until well seared. Flip the steak and cook on the second side for 3 more minutes. Use half of the reserved 2 tablespoons of sauce to brush the top of the meat, then flip and cook for 30 seconds. Brush the second side of the meat with the remaining tablespoon of sauce, flip and cook for 30 seconds longer. Transfer the meat to a plate, tent and let rest for 5 minutes.

Garnish with the green parts of the scallion and serve with the reserved sauce.