This is one of my favorite recipes in this book. And even though it's in the appetizer chapter, I often serve it for dinner. The whole family loves it, and the payoff in flavor is totally disproportionate to the effort involved. The hardest part—and, believe me, it's not hard—is slicing the beef. After that, you simply whirl the marinade in a blender, slather it on the beef and grill. The sauce comes together in a flash, too.

There's no need to wait for grilling weather to make these. I've cooked them under the broiler and in a stovetop grill pan (many times without the skewers, if I'm feeling lazy), always with success. Metal or wooden skewers may be used. You'll need about 24 short skewers or 12 long ones.

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer; 3 to 4 as a main course

For the Peanut Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, from 1 lime (use the lime you zest for the marinade)

    For the Beef:
  • One 1 1/2-lb flank steak
  • 6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • 3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger

    To make the peanut sauce: In a small saucepan, whisk all of the ingredients together over high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Set aside; the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

    To make the beef satay: Cut the flank steak against the grain into slices, about ¼ in [6 mm] thick. Place the steak slices in a medium bowl and set aside.

    Combine the remaining ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth and thick. Pour the mixture over the steak slices and toss until evenly coated.

    Thread the sliced meat onto 24 short or 12 long skewers and lay flat on an aluminum foil–lined baking sheet. Pour any marinade that's left in the bowl over the beef skewers.

    Preheat the grill to high, then oil the grates. Grill the skewers, covered, until the beef is browned on the outside but still pink on the inside, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Serve the satay warm with the peanut sauce on the side.

    Heads Up
    When you read through the recipe, you might wonder if I forgot the step of marinating the beef. I assure you, I didn't! The marinade is thick and clings to the meat, imparting loads of flavor in the short time it takes to cook. Go ahead and marinate longer if you want to get a head start, but know that it doesn't make a bit of difference in terms of flavor.

    Sourcing Savvy
    Flank steak is a tough cut but it works beautifully in this recipe because of the short cooking time. To guarantee that the meat is tender, be sure to cut it against (that is, perpendicular to) the grain. This cuts through the fibers and shortens them, making the meat easier to chew, since breaking up the muscle fibers has already been done for you. If you can't find flank steak, skirt steak is a good substitute. Thai red curry paste, Sriracha and fish sauce can all be found in the Asian food section of most large supermarkets.

    Pro Tips
    If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water for 20 to 30 minutes prior to using. To make the steak a cinch to cut, stick it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

    Reprinted from Once Upon a Chef by Jennifer Segal with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018

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