JeanMarie Brownson: Red Chile Grilled steak with mushrooms and shishito peppers | Food and Cooking

Fire up the grills; Memorial Day weekend fast approaches. We’re gathering outside to sear some steaks and toast summer’s arrival.

When it comes to grilling steak, there are plenty of choices to suit tastes and budgets.

Less expensive steaks, such as sirloin, flank and skirt, are admittedly less tender than their pricey brethren, but deliver big on beef flavor. The swankier cuts, including filet, T-bone, porterhouse and ribeye require less chew, but sport a milder flavor. I like to walk the line and serve boneless strip steak–most guests enjoy its flavor and pleasingly toothsome texture.

I often opt to purchase grass-fed or grass-finished beef rather than conventional corn-fed beef. It costs a little more, but in general, it’s a healthier option for me, the animal and the planet.

Steak welcomes the flavor of hardwood charcoal and high heat. I prefer natural charcoal so the meat doesn’t taste like chemicals. When using the gas grill, a packet of soaked wood chips adds a touch of smoke flavor to the meat.

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A slightly spicy gochujang and soy sauce marinade complements the flavor of the beef. The sweetness in the Korean red chile paste helps the exterior of the steak develop a great char. Soy sauce adds rich umami notes without overpowering the flavor of the meat.

I like to serve the steaks with a pile of golden mushrooms and seared shishito peppers sprinkled with cilantro. Make the mixture in advance so you can fully concentrate on grilling the steaks.

Red Chile Grilled steak with mushrooms and shishito peppers

TIP: Look for gochujang red pepper paste in Asian markets or online. Red chile hot sauce, such as sriracha, can be substituted. If shishito peppers are not available, substitute 1/2-inch-wide slices of poblano chile, Anaheim peppers, red or green bell pepper.

  • 4 boneless strip steaks or ribeye steaks OR 2 T-Bone steaks OR 6 top sirloin steaks, each 1 1/4 inches thick, total 2 1/2 pounds
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 tablespoons gochujang red chile paste or sriracha hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons expeller pressed canola oil, safflower or sunflower oil
  • 8 cups (12 ounces) small shishito peppers, rinsed, patted dry, stemmed
  • 1 large sweet onion, halved, cut into 1/3-inch thick wedges
  • 4 cups sliced assorted mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster or shiitake caps, about 12 ounces
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for serving

1. Pat steaks dry. Mix soy sauce and gochujang in a small bowl until smooth. Spoon 2/3 of the mixture into a large shallow baking dish; stir in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add steaks to the dish and turn to coat them on all sides with the mixture. Let stand at room temperature up to 30 minutes, or refrigerate uncovered up to 4 hours.

2. Meanwhile, heat a 10- to 12-inch well-seasoned cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When a drop of water sizzles furiously in the pan, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the remaining oil and half of the shishito peppers. Sear peppers, turning them with tongs, until skin blisters and browns, about 3 minutes. Remove to a plate. Repeat with another 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining peppers; add to the plate.

3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the onion to the pan. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook and stir until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining soy sauce mixture; cook 1 minute. Stir in shishito peppers.

4. Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. Be sure to heat the grill’s cooking rack at least 5 minutes before adding steaks to the grill.

5. Put the steak directly over the heat source. Cover the grill and cook 5 minutes. Flip the steaks. Cover the grill and cook until medium-rare, usually 3 minutes more.

6. Transfer the steaks to a board and let rest for a couple of minutes. Reheat the mushroom mixture if necessary. Use a very sharp slicing knife to slice steak across the grain into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Serve steak with a pile of the mushroom mixture.

(JeanMarie Brownson is a James Beard Award-winning author and the recipient of the IACP Cookbook Award for her latest cookbook, “Dinner at Home.” JeanMarie, a chef and authority on home cooking, Mexican cooking and specialty food, is one of the founding partners of Frontera Foods. She co-authored three cookbooks with chef Rick Bayless, including “Mexico: One Plate at a Time.” JeanMarie has enjoyed developing recipes and writing about food, travel and dining for more than four decades.)

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