This dinner-ideas piece first ran the beginning of May last year. Now that grilling season is in full swing, you can’t go wrong with flank steak.
WHEN I MET my husband he could cook and I thought he enjoyed it. He famously wooed me with a dish of pasta with tri-colored peppers. He wasn’t quick in the kitchen; that pasta dish took two hours and two bottles of wine to get done, but he was competent and managed to make some pretty good dinners. Fast-forward many years and it’s as if he never knew how to cook at all. Turns out the early foray into cooking was more a survival tactic than an avocation, and once he had a professional (me) on the job, he didn’t need to fake it anymore.
Luckily, there is one cooking task he still is always willing to perform. No tough guessing game here, he loves to grill. He goes out there with a drink in one hand and his instant-read thermometer in the other, happy as can be. So as the weather warms, he is more than willing to heat the grill and get cooking.
Well, it’s plenty hot now and not so ideal for grilling, which itself is a hot business. Given this full-on heat assault, there’s no shame in grilling earlier in the day, when the sun is low in the sky. And if you’re not a mosquito magnet you could wait till late. Anything but that full-bore sun.
My husband has his favorites at the grill, and a big one, as it is for so many people, is flank steak. When I was working at the Food section of the Washington Post, we published a recipe for flank steak in a teriyaki marinade, and you would have thought we had invented the thing.
Now I like flank steak, too. It’s full of flavor, takes well to marinades and is great cold the next day, which meets my list of of requirements. Better yet, there are plenty of things you can do with a flank, besides serving it grilled and thinly sliced.
- Stir Frying: Flank steak is my meat of choice for stir-fries. Slice the raw steak thinly across the grain and cut into 1- to 2- inch lengths. Then season, saute in a hot pan with oil and add to the cooked vegetables of your choosing. The sauce and seasonings can be Asian or mediterranean or whatever you like.
- Main-Course Salads: I love, love, love, making Negimaki-inspired salad. Negimaki is a Japanese dish where thin slices of raw flank steak are wrapped around scallions and/or asparagus. Secured with string, toothpicks or skewers, the rolls are marinated and then grilled or sauteed until the meat is cooked. My salad version skips all the rolling and tying and securing. I thinly slice grilled flank steak and mix with pieces of steamed asparagus and thinly sliced scallions. Toss with a ginger-sesame dressing and you’ve got a warm-weather lunch or dinner ready. Sometimes I use shallots instead of scallions and make a mustard-and-herb dressing to give the salad a French flair.
- Easy-Entertaining Skewers: My summer motto is “Everything Tastes Better on a Skewer.” Better yet, skewered meats take almost no time to grill. Thinly slice the raw flank steak against the grain. Thread the long slices onto skewers. Now you can go crazy with the seasoning: Spice rubs, Latin-inspired chipotle marinades and a simple teriyaki marinade, that old favorite, all work. Grill the skewers just until the meat is cooked and serve warm.
— Stephanie Witt Sedgwick
LittleBird “Stephanie Cooks” has been writing about food and cooking for more than 20 years.