Spice it twice—the mantra for this flavorful beef skewer. After skewering but before going on the grill, the meat is dusted generously with the spices. Those spices toast, their flavors deepening during cooking. Once the meat comes off the heat, it’s seasoned a second time with the same spice blend, creating multiple layers of nuanced flavors from the same few ingredients.
What did we do different? In place of flat iron steak, we substituted flap meat because it was already in our freezer and it’s easier to source than the aforementioned flat iron cut. In keeping with the Asian theme, we also grilled bok choy right along with the meat skewers. They benefited from a chili oil sauce that complimented the meat rub.
Don’t trim the fat from the beef before cooking. The fat adds flavor and helps keep the meat succulent. If you’re using a gas grill, make sure to give it at least 10 to 15 minutes to heat before cooking the skewers. This ensures the meat gets a nice surface char without overcooking the interior.
Spicy Chinese Beef Skewers
- 1½ lbs. beef flat iron steak, sliced against the grain into ¼-inch-thick strips
- 1 Tbsp. dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil, plus more for grill grate
- 2½ Tbsp. cumin seeds
- 2½ tsp. fennel seeds
- 1½ tsp. sichuan peppercorns
- 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- chili oil, to serve (optional)
- In a medium bowl, combine the beef, sherry, soy sauce and oil. Let stand at room temperature while preparing the spice mix and the grill.
- In a small skillet over medium-low, toast the cumin, fennel and Sichuan peppercorns until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and add the pepper flakes. Process until coarsely ground, about 10 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 1¾ teaspoons salt. Measure out 1 tablespoon of the mix and set aside to use as garnish.
- Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct, high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals and let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute the coals evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents and the lid vent. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
- While the grill heats, thread the beef onto ten 8- to 10-inch metal skewers, evenly dividing the meat and pushing the pieces together. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture evenly over both sides of the meat, patting gently to adhere.
- Grill until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and grill until the second sides are lightly charred, another 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkling both sides of the skewers with the reserved spice mix, then drizzle with chili oil (if using).
Adapted from a recipe by Laura Russell for Milk Street