Ginger-Teriyaki Beef Kebabs
It's been a challenging couple weeks here in North Carolina. I've slowly made some friends and felt settled enough to finally start up the Meatwave at my new residences. After weeks of beautiful weather, of course the weekend I picked for the first Meatwave had to be a rain out, so I moved it to the next weekend. Rain out once again, but the thing is, it never stopped raining between the two. I've had a hankering to get my grill on, but we've been going on nearly two weeks of damp, cold, and rainy days that are not well suited for outdoor activities. This is the exact type of weather I loath too—nothing makes me feel more sluggish and uninspired than extended periods of grayness. So I've been in need of a pick-me-up, something to brighten my thoughts, and I found that in reminiscing about these ginger-teriyaki beef kebabs.
While I haven't been manning the grill, I have been doing a fair amount of cooking indoors, particularly Filipino foods like arroz caldo, fried spare ribs, and garlic fried rice. All of these require a whole lot of garlic and it was that pungent aroma that fills the house each time I was sauteeing it that reminded me of the kebabs, which start with cooking garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in shimmering oil until fragment.
Although small in quantity, those three ingredients built the strong foundational flavor of the sweet and savory glaze I was constructing that also included teriyaki sauce, pineapple juice, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, and a bit of sesame oil for a background nuttiness. I let this already pretty thick mixture simmer for about five minutes to reduce it slightly and concentrate the flavors.
Last summer I did some experimenting with the cuts of beef I use for kebabs. Way back when, I proclaimed sirloin steaks as the best bet for kebabs, which is what I'm using here. I found though, if you move further down the sirloin and go for the sirloin tip in particular, there's added benefit in both tenderness and flavor. The tip can be a bit trickier to find, but it's well worth the hunt for kebabs, and grilling in general.
After I had cut my steak into one-and-half inch cubes and the sauce had cooled, I moved forward marination. I reserved have of the sauce for use as a glaze later on and mixed the remaining half with more pineapple juice to serve as the marinade. I let those pieces of beef wade in the flavorful liquid for about four hours before proceeding to skewering.
I chose the usual kebab fodder here—bell peppers, onion, and pineapple— since they all seemed well suited to compliment the flavor of the marinade/glaze. I tend to like meat-only, or meat heavy kebabs, but I have to say these mixed media skewers looked way more attractive than the ones I usually concoct.
The hardest part about skewers is the grilling. You need to cook them long enough to develop a sear on the meat and caramelization on the veggies, but not so long that the beef gets overdone and turns dry and tough. To accomplish kebab nirvana, I employ a blazing hot two-zone fire. Over the extreme heat of freshly lit coals I can sear the beef quickly without cooking it all the way through.
If they still need more time to cook, or an application of glaze like these did, I can do that over the relative safety of indirect heat. Just like with most good steaks, I was shooting for a doneness around medium-rare, but would be fine settling with medium in this scenario knowing that perfection is a bit more difficult to attain.
If I were to describe the iconic backyard barbecue skewer, these would be exactly what I would imagine. They were a beautiful medley of colors and flavors with a glisten and char that were picture perfect. Luckily, taste matched looks and the ginger-teriyaki marinade and glaze packed a lot of flavor that had a ubiquitous sweet Asian-y profile. The hefty glaze paired well with the beefy sirloin that was contrasted with the fresher elements of onion, pineapple, and peppers that also added a bit of crunch as well.
Ok, I think that's about all I can take thinking about the kebabs. While they've provided a nice escape from my gray and wet reality, it's also adding to my depression that once I finally got the itch to grill a lot again, mother nature had to go and foil it for me for weeks on end.
Ginger-Teriyaki Beef Kebabs
- Yield 4-6 servings
- Prep 30 Minutes
- Inactive 2 Hours
- Cook 15 Minutes
- Total 2 Hours 45 Minutes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic (from about 3 medium cloves)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cup teriyaki sauce
- 3/4 cup pineapple juice, divided
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin tips, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large sweet onion, sliced into 1 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 onion layers each)
- 2 medium red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, cut into 1 1/2-inch squares
- Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add ginger, garlic, and red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in teriyaki sauce, 1/4 cup of pineapple juice, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Pour half of marinade into a small bowl and whisk in remaining 1/2 cup pineapple juice. Reserve remaining marinade in saucepan as a glaze to be used during grilling. Place beef cubes in a large resealable plastic bag. Add marinade and seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Marinate, refrigerated, for at least 2 and up to 5 hours.
- Thread beef onto skewers, alternating with pineapple, onion, and bell peppers.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill skewers over direct heat until beef is well seared on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Move skewers to cool side of grill and brush all over with reserved teriyaki glaze. Cover grill and continue to cook until center of beef registers between 125-130°F on an instant read thermometer. Transfer skewers to platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
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Chris Great looking kebabs, Josh!
David Somerville Hang in there, Josh. It will get better!