With grilling season wearing on, you may be getting a little bored with Japanese and Mexican glazes and marinades. Here’s an easy marinade that will infuse your meat with a fresh herbal flavor and loads of umami. With plenty of garlic, ginger and lemongrass to offset any fishiness coming from the fish sauce, and a natural meat tenderizer, you get tender juicy skewers infused with the flavors of Southeast Asia.
I’ve covered all the different ways to tenderize meat in the past, but of all the enzymatic tenderizers, I like using kiwi fruit the best. That’s because the active enzyme in kiwifruit (actinidain), is effective at tenderizing connective tissue without being so aggressive that the meat turns to mush. It also has a relatively neutral flavor and a nice sweetness that works well in marinades.
While they may look pretty, skewering vegetables together with meat results in over cooked meat or undercooked vegetables as they take different amounts of time to cook. One solution is to skewer them separately, but I prefer to just sauté the vegetables in a pan along with some salt and pepper and then stick the skewers on top of the vegetables. That way you end up with meat cooked just the way you like it, on a colorful bed of veggies that are cooked to perfection.
Grilled Lemongrass Beef
- 0.7 ounces lemongrass (2 stalks, white part only), chopped
- 0.7 ounces kiwi fruit (about 1/2 small fruit), peeled
- 0.25 ounces ginger, peeled
- 0.25 ounces garlic (about 1 medium clove), peeled
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound beef, cut into 1" cubes
- Put the lemongrass, kiwi fruit, ginger, garlic, fish sauce and vegetable oil into a small blender or food processor and blend until pureed.
- Pour the marinade over the beef and mix to ensure each piece of beef is coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Submerge 8 wooden skewers in water overnight. This keeps the skewers from burning on the grill. If you forget to do this, you can submerge them in boiling water for about 10 minutes instead.
- To skewer the beef, select similar size pieces for each skewer, ensuring that each piece is oriented so that the meat is roughly the same thickness from one end of the skewer to the other. Also, be sure to leave a little room between each piece of meat to ensure they cook evenly.
- Grill the skewers over a hot grill until the beef is cooked to your desired temperature. If the beef starts burning before it's cooked, move the skewers to a cooler part of your grill.
Tips/TechniquesIf you don't have a grill you can put the skewers on a baking sheet and broil them in your oven. Just move the oven rack to the top position, set the oven to broil, and broil the skewers, flipping them over once the tops start to brown.
Yield: 8, 7-inch skewers
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.