Looking for a crowd pleaser? Throw together the marinade for these Lemongrass Beef Skewers early in the day and dinner will be super easy - and super delicious!
This one's been in "the hopper" for awhile. Actually, I've been making these Lemongrass Beef Skewers all summer, but it wasn't until just recently that I got them right.
"Not charred enough". "Not enough lemongrass flavor". "Too salty". "Kind of tough". "Results not worth the cost of the expensive cut of beef". "Cut too thin". "Cut too thick"... and on and on it went. For awhile I thought this one would never make it to the blog, as only the best recipes cut the (blog) muster. I can't say we suffered as we went through the different renditions though, after all, who doesn't love Asian-inspired beef, fresh off the grill?
I looked at lots of different options as I was trying to determine the best cut of beef. I tried beef short ribs, sirloin, filet, sirloin tips and flat iron steak. In the end, flat iron steak was the grand prize winner, as it's fairly lean, decently priced and yields delicious, tender results.
Lots of wonderful lemongrass flavor
The marinade also took a few tries. I wanted the lemongrass to shine, so I knew I couldn't use too much soy sauce, as it tends to cover up more subtle flavors. The perfect combination ended up being lots of fresh lemongrass (see tip below regarding lemongrass and ginger), fresh ginger, sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, chili garlic sauce and minced garlic.
We've enjoyed these Lemongrass Beef Skewers this summer with my 5 Minute Easy Peanut Sauce as well as on their own, served with jasmine rice and roasted or grilled veggies. They also make a delicious Asian salad with Udon or Ramen noodles, cucumbers, tomatoes, mango, fresh basil and cilantro and chopped cashews.
The sliced steak can be marinated for as little 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. The flavor intensifies with longer marination, but either way, it will be delicious. The marinade is more for flavor than tenderization, as flat iron steak is quite tender on it's own.
The tenderness is one of the reasons I love flat iron steak. It's actually known to be second in tenderness only to beef tenderloin. Flat iron steak also goes by butler's steak (UK), oyster blade steak (Australia and New Zealand), shoulder top blade steak, top blade filet or top blade steak. It's fairly readily available in larger grocery stores.
If you don't see flat iron steak at your local market, ask the butcher. If he doesn't carry it, sirloin tips also work very well in this recipe. Cut them in 1-inch chunks (not too big) and thread them on to the skewers in lieu of the strips of flat iron steak.
Café Tips for making these Lemongrass Beef Skewers
- You can purchase stalks of lemongrass at some larger grocery stores, Asian markets and specialty stores like Whole Foods, Fresh Market, etc.
- You can also find tubes of lemongrass (and ginger) paste in the produce department of many larger grocery stores. They're usually in the same area that you'll find the little packets of fresh herbs.
- I keep both Lemongrass Paste and Ginger Paste in my freezer. They have great, fresh flavor and make Asian cuisine super easy to throw together (Plus, they're perfect for lazy people like me!). I just let the little tube sit out for about 10 minutes to thaw, squeeze out as much as I need, then pop it back in the freezer. It will store in the freezer indefinitely.
- Metal skewers (in lieu of wooden or bamboo) are wonderful, as you don't have to worry about them burning. I really like these 8-inch skewers. They're reasonably priced, hold up well after many washings and have a flat shape, which makes flipping the meat super simple.
- Be sure to grill over a hot fire, with the lid off. You want the outside of the beef to have a bit of char and crispiness, while the inside remains juicy and tender.
- I like to make plenty of these Lemongrass beef skewers, so there's enough for dinner with leftovers for a delicious Asian salad the next day.
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass
- 1 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil or other neutral flavored oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili garlic sauce
- 3 medium cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½-2 pounds flat iron steak see post for substitution
- chopped salted peanuts for garnish
- chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
- Peanut Sauce if desired
Combine the sugar, lemongrass, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, oil, chile garlic sauce, garlic and kosher salt in a medium size bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves.
Slice beef into ¼-inch slices (crosswise) and add to marinade mixture in the bowl. Toss to coat beef well with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
When ready to cook, heat grill to high. (You should be able to hold your hand 1 to 2 inches above the grate for only 2 to 3 seconds). Oil grates with cooking spray or oil.
Drain beef and discard the marinade. Thread 4-5 beef strips onto each skewer, accordion style.
Place the skewers on the grill. Cook, turning every couple minutes until golden brown and charred in places, about 10-12 minutes total. Do not cover grill while cooking skewers.
Remove from grill and tent with foil for 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and cilantro for garnish. Serve with Peanut Sauce, if desired.