Kitchen Witch - Cheapskate steak

Asian-y Steak Marinade

As summer makes its debut, cowboy wannabes across America are pulling out their grills, great and small, for a season of smoke, fire, and alas, same-old underwhelming steaks.

Why must we turn to the same cuts of cow every time? To paraphrase my pal, Ralph Waldo Emerson, foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Besides, those filets and New York strips are top-dollar items — for chumps for who don’t know better. Savvy cooks are getting in on a little secret that butchers have been keeping to themselves — the flat iron and the skirt. You can still grill and get great flavor, but you’ll also save a few bucks, maybe enough for a bottle of wine.

Meet the skirt: She’s long and thin and kind of striated, like a scarf that you might wear between winter and spring. She hails from the diaphragm muscle, which means somewhere between the belly and the chest. You may be more familiar with the flank steak, which is the larger encompassing area and very respectable, but that flank is tough on the wallet.

Sure, skirt has a bit of fat and connective tissue, but because she’s so thin, she cooks up quickly and beautifully on the grill and loves being part of a salad.

Moving from the belly area over to the shoulder is the underestimated flat iron, aka the top blade steak. Technically, the top blade is part of the chuck, a tough part of the animal that usually gets ground for burgers or cut up into stew meat.

The top blade is the exception to the muscly chuck rule, though. It offers up lean, boneless, tender meat that would convert any T-bone lover. About an inch thick with a flat top and slightly triangular shape, the flat iron is budget steak paradise. The only caveat: A long piece of connective tissue (aka gristle) that runs down the middle needs to be removed. You can do that after cooking, and keep the steak intact.

Both cuts need a boost of marination. Below is an Asian-style mix of goodies that you can play with, depending on what’s in the kitchen.

Enjoy the new cuts — and the extra change weighing down your wallet.

Asian-y Steak Marinade

For a 1-pound flat iron, skirt, or flank steak:

2 teaspoons black bean garlic sauce

1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons rice wine or sake

1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon water

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup black sesame seeds

• In a nonreactive bowl or container, add all ingredients and stir to combine.

• Add meat to marinade, making sure it is completely covered, and marinate for up to an hour at room temperature; for longer periods of time or extremely hot weather, cover and marinate in the refrigerator.

• Preheat grill, which should be very hot (you should be able to place your hand five inches above grill for 1-2 seconds only). Place steak on grill and cook until well seared on one side, about 4 minutes. With tongs, turn steak onto other side and continue cooking until desired doneness. Rare: 120 degrees; medium: about 135 degrees.

• Remove from heat and let rest a few minutes. For flat iron, cut center line of gristle before thinly slicing on a diagonal, against the grain.

• Suggested serving: Plate your steak with rice and cucumbers dressed in sesame oil, rice wine and red pepper flakes.

• A 1-pound steak makes 2-3 servings.

Culinary questions? Contact Kim O’Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.