Our longtime director at the Eyeopener, a man I’ve worked with for 6 or 7 of the 32 years he’s been at CBC, is retiring this week. Every Tuesday when I go to the studio, his first question when I walk through the door is – “got steak?” Generally I don’t (although he didn’t complain when I had prime rib instead), but this past Tuesday, being my last day with him in the director’s chair, I made steak.
I brought him a nice, triple A, well-marbled ribeye to cook on the grill, but I also made steak bites – easier for everyone to eat in the studio first thing in the morning, and inspired by the steak bites I had at the Steakout truck a few weeks ago (you’ll find them parked beside MEC most of the time), which they served with a garlicky soy aïoli.
I’ve had a recipe for Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk’s “Easiest, Tastiest Steak” on my to-make list for many years now, and it seemed to me that a salty, gingery, garlicky marinade would do well on little bites of meat you dip and pop into your mouth. It’s an intense marinade – not one you’d want to bathe your steak in for too long – but it was perfect. After a dip, you cube your meat, crank up the heat under a skillet and sear the pieces in butter, which creates a wonderfully meaty browned-butter dribble to pour over your steak bites after you cook them, which only takes a few minutes.
Cooking steak bites is less stressful than a whole steak – once they’re nicely charred on all sides, they’re perfectly done in the middle. And with all that extra surface area, every bite has crispy bits.
Plus: it’s a perfect opportunity to hone your mayo-making skills and whip (literally) up some garlic aïoli for dipping. (But no one will mind if you cheat and add crushed garlic to a jar of mayo.)
Steak Bites with Garlic Aïoli
The marinade comes from Barbecue Secrets Deluxe, by Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk – he says it’s also great with pork chops and rich, meaty fish like salmon, halibut and tuna.
4 well-marbled striploin steaks, an inch or so thick
1 cup dark soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sesame oil
freshly ground black pepper
butter, for cooking
Cut the steak into bite-sized (about 1-inch) pieces. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a glass baking dish, add the meat, turn to coat, and marinate for 10 minutes to half an hour, stirring once or twice. Do not marinate it overnight, as this is a fairly salty marinade.
Set a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add a blob of butter. When the foaming subsides, add the steak in batches, without crowding the pan, and leave for a minute or two to get a nice sear on the first side. Turn and cook for a few minutes, until golden all over. Transfer to a shallow bowl. When all the steak is cooked, drizzle the buttery juices from the bottom of the pan over them. Serve with garlic aioli. Serves 8.
Adapted from Gourmet, 2002
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup mild olive or canola oil, or a combination
2 garlic cloves, finely crushed or grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl whisk together the yolk, lemon juice, and mustard. Add the oil in a very slow stream or a few drops at a time, whisking vigorously and constantly, until all the oil is incorporated and mixture is emulsified. (If mixture separates, stop adding oil and continue whisking until mixture comes together, then resume adding oil.)
Whisk in the garlic, salt and pepper. Makes about 3/4 cup.