Make a few batches ahead to freeze (un-skewered) and you’ve got yourself an easy meal for a busy week night(s) by pan frying it together with some vegetables and serving it over a bed of rice. Thaw it in the morning in the refrigerator and meat is ready to cook or grill by dinner time.
*Good To Know*
- What type of Beef should I use for ultimate tenderness?
A roast such as top sirloin tip roast, tri-tip or flank is good for grilling. If it’s within your budget, a beef tenderloin works very well for tenderness. Look for a cut that has marbling (lines of fat) throughout the meat. This will add juicy flavour to your grilled beef. If using a lean & tough cut of beef, add pineapple juice, fresh crushed pineapple (or other crushed, acidic fresh fruit such as kiwi or asian pear) to your marinade. It will tenderize even the leanest cut, due to the acidic enzymes. *IMPORTANT*: Only marinate your beef for a maximum of 1 hour if you’re adding pinapple or other juice (fresh or bottled). If you marinate it longer than 1 hour, the beef will disintegrate. Don’t like fruit in your marinade? Use a meat tenderizer to soften sliced beef instead.
- Why do I need to slice beef ‘against the grain’?
Cutting against the grain means to slice meat against long fibers in the meat (aka. muscles) rather than parallel to it. It achieves two things. One is that your meat can be skewered more easily because the sliced meat will hold its texture since it can’t be pulled apart easily (cooked or uncooked) and second is that it makes your meat more tender / flavourful once marinated and cooked. If sliced along the length of the muscle fibers in your meat, not only is it harder to skewer but once cooked, it will be a little tougher to chew through because of the long muscle fiber rather than the thinly, sliced and shortened version.
- Can I use pre-toasted sesame seeds instead of toasting my own?
Of course you can! I just prefer to toast my own because freshly toasted sesame seeds add so much aroma to the marinade. Adjust the amount of seeds to your liking. Personally, I love sesame seeds and add about 1/8 or 1/4 cup of seeds to my marinade.
- I’m too busy. Can I freeze the marinated beef ahead?
It’s a great way to prep dinner for a busy weeknight. Throw the marinade and raw beef into a zip-top freezer bag (squeeze out all of the air) and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the bag in your refrigerator before you leave for work in the morning. This will allow the beef to absorb the marinade while it’s thawing. When home, if you don’t want to skewer the meat, you can add some oil and minced garlic to a non stick wok or frying pan and fry the beef with the sauce. The marinade will thicken and makes a great topper over a bed of rice with some side vegetables of your choice (may I suggest broccoli, cauliflower, green beans or rappini?)
How to choose cut of Beef for grillingWhen shopping for a roast, choose the type of beef that is good for grilling such as top sirloin tip roast, tri-tip roast (aka. triangle roast) ,flank or beef tenderloin (best cut for tenderness) . You can go with a grilling steak too if that is your preference. Some marbling (lines of fat) on the beef is good because the fat will keep the meat juicy during grilling but if you can’t find one with good marbling, not to worry! Our marinade will do the trick as well. The most important point to keep in mind is to slice your beef even in size and thickness. I usually cut my beef slices approximately 2 x 3 inches with a thickness of 1 cm. If you’re having a hard time slicing your beef thin, freeze beef for about 45 minutes to 1 hour and also sharpen your knife for easier cutting.
How to tenderize Beef for grillingAs mentioned in my *Good To Know* section above, pineapple helps to (naturally) tenderize the beef as it marinates. This is an optional method. If you are not fond of pineapple, adding crushed or pureed fresh asian pear or kiwi will have the same effect. Not fond of any fruit / juice in your meat? You can pound the sliced meat with a meat tenderizer. Let your meat marinate for 1 hour or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator (Note: do not marinate for more than 1 hour if you’re including fruit juice). Give it some time so that it will help break down the protein and soften sliced beef for better grilling and for a more flavourful result. Grill beef skewered on sticks, pan fry in a wok or sauté it together with vegetables, the choice is yours. A simple but tasty recipe for a fast weeknight meal! If you’re still salivating and need more skewer ideas, check out my post for Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass pork or Grilled Marinated Veggie Skewers.
Teriyaki Sesame Beef Skewers
- 12 skewers wooden (or bamboo), soaked in water for 1 hour
- 2 Tablespoons (30 g) white sesame seeds, toasted
- 2 pounds (1 kg) boneless beef sirloin roast, sliced 1 cm thick against the grain
- ½ cup (110 g) dark brown sugar, (dark brown preferred but light brown works too)
- ⅓ cup (79 ml) soy sauce, (if using less-sodium, add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt)
- 2 Tablespoons (16 g) garlic (6 cloves), pressed
- 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) mirin, or 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) hoisin sauce
- ½ cup (118 g) pineapple juice or fresh crushed pineapples , *Optional* – Will aid with tenderizing lean meat such as flank (max. 1 hour marinate time)
- Soak wooden skewers in water for 1 hour prior to grilling (to help prevent sticks from burning too quickly)
- Toast white sesame seeds on medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside in heat proof bowl to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Grind seeds in a mortar with a pestal (or in zip-top plastic bag with a rolling pin). Set aside.
- Remove roast from packaging and pat dry with paper towels. If present, trim away connective tissue or silver skin (membrane that will not break down during grilling) from roast. Slice roast into even, thin slices against the grain. Cut slices approx. 2 x 3 inches with 1 cm thickness. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.
- In a medium mixing bowl whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, mirin, toasted sesame seeds, hoisin sauce and pineapple juice (optional). Pour sauce into bowl with sliced beef and mix with spatula (or massage with clean hands) until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap (or place into zip-top plastic bag) and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Skewer about 6 beef slices on one skewer stick, leaving a 2 inch gap on the dull side of the stick for easy handling. Repeat until all of the meat is skewered.
- If there is excess marinade left over, pour into saucepan and bring to boil (stir occasionally) until sauce has reduced and thickened. Use this as extra sauce to brush on meat while grilling.
- Grill on barbecue on medium high heat (approximately 350°F or 176.7°C) 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until meat is cooked and sauce is sticky (slightly charred is even better for flavour). Serve immediately as appetizer or as main course with side dish.