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Teriyaki Sesame Beef Skewers

by Lily
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4.05 from 41 votes

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Tender skewered beef slices with a sweet, sticky, sesame soy sauce that only take a few minutes to grill and are perfect as appetizers or part of a meal.
One of my favourite ways to cook beef is with Teriyaki sauce. The sweet, sticky result of the beef is so delicious with broccoli (or any vegetable you favour) or just on a stick as an appetizer. It’s almost hard to believe how quickly this dish comes together!

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 roasttri-tip, sirloin cap, 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.
  • How do I tenderize a tough or lean cut of beef?
    If you are using a lean & tough cut of beef such as eye of round or chuck, add pineapple juice or 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*- If you are adding pineapple juice, marinate your beef for 15 minutes up to 25 minutes maximum, (depending on the thickness of your sliced meat). If you marinate it longer than 25 minutes, 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 grilling

When 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 grilling

As mentioned in my *Good To Know* section above, pineapple or other acidic fruit helps to (naturally) tenderize the beef as it marinates. This is an optional method but I only recommend you do this if you are using a tough/lean cut of meat such as eye of round or chuck. Although more cost-effective, this type of cut is lean and has minimal to no fat marbling, so you can imagine it will be less tender once it’s grilled. Having said that, I only recommend you marinate the meat between 15 minutes to 25 minutes maximum, depending on the thickness of your sliced meat. Longer than that and you risk turning your sliced meat into disintegrated mush.

If you like the pineapple flavour but are using a tender beef cut, marinate your beef with just the Teriyaki sauce. Then when it’s done marinating, add the pineapple juice or crushed pineapple to the beef and immediately cook your meat. This will prevent your tender beef from turning into mush and still give you a lot of flavour.

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 with the Teriyaki sauce (Note: do not marinate for more than 25 minutes 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.

Are you looking for more recipes like this one? I have gathered 12 of my best skewer recipes along with kitchen techniques, ingredient insight, alternate cooking method and more in an eBook. Learn more about it here.

Teriyaki Sesame Beef Skewers

Tender skewered beef slices with a sweet, sticky, sesame soy sauce that only take a few minutes to grill and are perfect as appetizers or part of a meal.
4.05 from 41 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinate Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Yields: 12 skewers

Ingredients

Tools

  • 12 skewers wooden (or bamboo), soaked in water for 1 hour

Teriyaki Beef

  • 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)
  • 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 'eye of round' or 'chuck'. Marinate for 15 minutes up to 25 minutes maximum, depending on the thickness of the sliced meat. If you want to add pineapple juice for flavour to tender meat, I recommend adding it at the very end after your meat is done marinating with the teriyaki sauce.

INSTRUCTIONS 

  • 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 (you can also use pre-toasted sesame seeds). Set it aside in a heat-proof bowl to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Grind seeds in a mortar with a pestle (or in a zip-top plastic bag with a rolling pin).
  • Remove roast from packaging and pat it dry with paper towels. If present, trim away connective tissue or silver skin (the membrane that will not break down during grilling) from the roast. Slice roast into even, thin slices against the grain. Cut slices approx. 2 x 3 inches with a 1 cm thickness. Set beef 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 (only recommended for tougher meats. See my notes below for more info). Pour the sauce into the bowl with sliced beef and mix everything with a spatula until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap (or place beef into a zip-top plastic bag) and refrigerate it 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 this step until all of the meat is skewered. Place skewers on a tray lined with aluminum foil.
  • If there is excess marinade left over, pour it into a saucepan and bring it to a boil (stir occasionally) until the sauce has reduced and is thickened. Use this as an extra sauce to brush on the beef while grilling.
  • Grill skewers on your BBQ oven on medium-high heat (approximately 400°F) for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until the meat is cooked and the sauce is sticky (slightly charred is even better for flavour). Serve immediately as an appetizer or as a main course with a side dish.

Video

Category: Appetizer
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: beef, sesame, soy sauce, teriyaki

Tips

What type of Beef should I use for ultimate tenderness?
A roast such as top sirloin tip roasttri-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. 
How do I tenderize a tough or lean cut of beef?
If you are using a lean & tough cut of beef such as eye of round or chuck, add pineapple juice or 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*- If you are adding pineapple juice, marinate your beef for 15 minutes up to 25 minutes maximum, (depending on the thickness of your sliced meat). If you marinate it longer than 25 minutes, 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?
Your Own Digital Notes
Nutrition Facts
Teriyaki Sesame Beef Skewers
Serving Size
 
1 skewer (6 slices of beef)
Amount per Serving
Calories
166
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
4
g
6
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Cholesterol
 
42
mg
14
%
Sodium
 
472
mg
21
%
Potassium
 
308
mg
9
%
Carbohydrates
 
14
g
5
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
11
g
12
%
Protein
 
17
g
34
%
Vitamin A
 
1
IU
0
%
Vitamin C
 
1
mg
1
%
Calcium
 
42
mg
4
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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4 comments

Jessica May 10, 2022 - 7:29 pm

2 stars
Total dinner fail. We crushed fresh pineapple for the juice, marinated sliced sirloin cap for exactly 1 hour, and the meat disintegrated into complete mush – like eating a bite of wet bread. 😕 The flavors were good, but if we make it again, we would not marinate longer for 30 minutes.

Reply
Lily May 10, 2022 - 9:17 pm

Hi Jessica. Thank you for your feedback, and I’m sorry this didn’t turn out for you. The sirloin cap is a more tender beef cut, and it may be why the meat turned out mushy with the pineapple juice. If you still prefer the pineapple juice for flavour with the sirloin cap, may I suggest adding the juice at the end of marinating time? That way it won’t break down the meat to make it mushy but you will still get the pineapple flavour. Thank you for giving my recipe a try. I will test this with a sirloin cap the next time I find it at the grocery store (they’re not common here where I live).

Reply
Lisa September 13, 2021 - 4:49 pm

5 stars
So yummy!! Great on pork and beef!
I lost your recipe on Pinterest and I literally almost cried I have spent the whole day looking for your recipe and luckily I posted it to my Facebook profile so I found it thank you so much this is so good

Reply
Lily September 13, 2021 - 4:58 pm

Hi Lisa! Aww I’m so glad you found it again. Thanks so much for your comment. It definitely is great on pork and beef! Try it on chicken. Lip smacking too! 😉

Reply