Thai Beef Skewers

Sometimes I over think things. Take these Thai style beef skewers for instance. I craved those thin slices of beef that balance sweetness with citrusy lime juice, salty fish sauce, crisp and caramelized edges and bright herbal flavors from fresh basil. I searched and searched the internet for marinade recipe ideas, convinced that the ingredient list must be a mile long, but found that it really wasn’t anything more than a mix of sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce.

So I mixed together my own marinade with those basics plus a hint of toasted sesame oil and fresh garlic for added flavor then next set upon how I should slice the piece of well-marbled chuck eye steak that I’d purchased so I could get the slices nice and thin. In the past, I’d sliced thin pieces of chicken for Thai style stir fries by taking mostly frozen pieces of chicken and slicing them using the slicing blade in my food processor. That blade is sorely neglected, so why not try it here? I put the steak in the freezer for 45 minutes and set about slicing, except oops– the steak wasn’t frozen enough. I ended up with some pieces of minced beef instead of the 1/8 of an inch thick clean slices I sought. Oy… how would I ever manage to skewer that? I took the rest of the steak and sliced against the grain super thin slices with just my knife, no appliance needed.

Like Scarlett O’Hara, I went about dumping all of the steak, slices and minced bits, into my marinade, putting off thinking about the problem for another day, well, actually for a few hours. When it came time to skewer, I carefully threaded the slices onto skewers then haphazardly clumped the minced pieces together, skewering what I could. I handed them off to John to set on the grill thinking that we’d lose half of our main course as those minced pieces would surely fall off through the grate, but to my surprise, all the skewers came out in tact. A quick drizzle of lime juice and a sprinkle of fresh basil and chives was all that these skewers needed before being served. The meat was so tender and was that balance of salt, sweet, and citrus that I’d sought. Despite over-thinking things, we had a fine, simple meal. Let the simplicity of the following picture speak for itself.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out John's amazing shiso leaf martini which was the perfect accompaniment for our meal.

Note: This makes a dinner for 2-4 or could be an appetizer for a party of 8. If you don’t trust your knife skills and want to try the food processor slicing blade trick, I’d recommend freezing the steak for at least 1.5 hours or until the steak feels mostly frozen with just a little give when you press it. Since you’ve got the grill out, why not try grilling baby bok choy as a side?

  • 16 oz boneless chuck eye steak
  • wooden skewers, soaked in a glass of water for at least 3 hours
  • 1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh basil and chives
  • steamed rice (optional)

In a baking dish or glass bowl, mix together the soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, garlic cloves, and sesame oil. Slice steak against the grain, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Place steak slices in the marinade, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to over night.

While grill heats, carefully thread steak slices on skewers, weaving each piece up and over skewer like you’re sewing a stitch at least 2 times then stretch out the piece so it lies flat. This maximizes the surface area of each piece of steak with the contact of the grill. Cook on direct heat for 3-4 minutes per side or until beef is slightly charred. Remove skewers to a plate and squeeze lime juice over the skewers then sprinkle with basil and chives. If serving as entrée, place two skewers on top of a small pile of steamed rice per plate.

CSA Count: 3

Garlic, chives, basil

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