Grilled Flank Steak & Marinade

Flank steak was once an economical cut of meat due to its tough reputation, however, with the popularity of it for backyard grilling, it has become a prized piece of beef.  Since you’ll have to fork out a heftier price for fabulous flank, we want to give you the tips you’ll need to keep it fork-tender and recipes that’ll guarantee every last scrap will make its mouth-watering way to your taste buds.

Marinade & Preparation

Flank steak is very lean and sinewy so marinating is the best way to tenderize it as well as infuse it with moisture and flavour.  This basic marinade recipe is fairly simple to throw together and can be used as a jumping off point.  Adapt it to suit your tastes or incorporate other flavours.  The important thing to remember is that a marinade needs to have a very strong but balanced combination of acid, sugar, and salt.  Taste it.  It should seem too strong to be served on its own, but still have even tartness, sweetness, and saltiness.  Adjust accordingly.

  • flank steak, ¼ - ⅓ lb 113-150 gr) per person
  • 1 cup light soya sauce (regular is too strong)
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (some seasoned rice wine vinegars are sweetened)
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar (use less to start if the rice wine vinegar is sweetened)
  • 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp finely minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, optional

Warm all of the ingredients other than the meat in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.  This helps the flavours to meld.  Pour into a shallow dish and chill quickly in the fridge.  Meanwhile, tenderize the meat by stabbing it with a fork all over on both sides.  Place in a glass dish or zip lock bag with the marinade; marinate 4 hours to overnight, turning occasionally.  

Preheat grill to a hot 500°F/260°C.  Remove the meat from the marinade allowing it to come up to room temperature as the grill preheats.  Wipe as much marinade off as possible; discard marinade since it has been in contact with raw meat.  Wipe down the grate with oil.  Cook the meat over direct heat.

GRILL TIP: Pour some olive, grapeseed, or vegetable oil into a small dish.  Peel an onion, cut it in half and place one half, cut side down in the dish.  Use the onion to oil the grill.  It spreads the oil well and is a cool, guy thing to do.  Besides, using a towel might leave bits of fibre and fluff on the grate and fluff is definitely not a cool, guy thing.

Grill 3 minutes on the first side; flip, 3 mins on the second side; flip, 3 mins again on the first side; flip one last time to the second side, shut off the grill, close lid and allow the meat to finish for 2 mins.  No matter how you normally like your steak, flank steak should always be cooked rare to medium-rare and NEVER any more than that or you will end up with flank steak jerky.  Remove the meat to a platter and tent with foil to rest for 5 - 15 mins.  This will help the juices the redistribute through the meat and allow you to handle it more easily.  Slice the meat very thinly across the grain with the sharpest carving knife you have.

Flank Steak - Five Ways

Flank steak is terrific served a variety of ways so consider grilling up a larger piece so that you’ll have leftovers for a meal the following day.

#1 Simply Steak - flank steak unadulterated is great with a few tasty sides

After meat has rested, slice thinly, drizzle with any remaining juices and serve fanned out on a platter.

Classic Steakhouse Sides: 

  • Tossed Green Salad with radish slices & tomato wedges in a light vinaigrette like Garlic Expressions
  • Baked Potato on the grill, loaded with butter, sour cream, chives & bacon bits

Grilled Sides:

  • Asparagus brushed lightly with lemon olive oil and dijon mustard; veggie skewers; portobello mushrooms
  • Ciabatta bread slices brushed with garlic butter, corn on the cob served with lime wedges & steak spice

Crowd Pleasers:

Zesty Bean Salad, Pasta Salad with colourful vegetables, Asian Slaw, Spinach Salad, Greek Salad, Roasted New Potatoes with Herbs, Maple Baked Beans, Rapini Salad with raisins and honey mustard

#2 Philly Flank - this take on a Philly Cheesesteak is a favourite

Sauce fresh hoagie or long sausage buns with plain or chipotle mayo.  Pile on sliced flank steak and grilled or sauteed onion and bell pepper strips.  Add pickled jalapeño rings if you like.  Top with slices of old cheddar, mozzarella, or pepper-jack cheese.  Heat open faced under a broiler until cheese has just melted; fold the hoagie together and serve.  Alternately, you could fold them up in foil and warm over indirect heat on the grill for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese.

#3 Hawaii Flank-O - a version of the popular Bonzai Burger from the west coast Red Robin burger chain

Grill slices of sweet onion and pineapple rings, brushing them with oil to prevent burning or sticking.  Towards the end, brush them with a honey-mustard grill sauce.  Spread a fresh kaiser roll with a little of the honey-mustard sauce; pile high with sliced flank steak, grilled onion slice and pineapple ring.  Top with a slice of cheddar if desired.  

GRILL TIP: Use the double-skewer method to keep items from spinning around on the stick when you turn them.  Skewer items like onion slices, pineapple rings, or shrimp with two skewers placed parallel to each other.

#4 Cold Steak Salad - perfect for the few slices of flank steak leftover the next day

Toss a salad of mixed greens, sliced green onion, radish, and mushrooms with a light and zesty vinaigrette like Garlic Expressions.  Top with slices of cold flank steak.  Garnish with crumbled blue cheese and tomato wedges.  The variations on this theme are endless using seasonal vegetables.

#5 Fajita Flank Steak Tacos - serve them sizzling hot off the grill or cold the next day

Warm a stack of soft corn tortillas (small flour tortillas, pita bread, or naan could be substituted).  Fill with sliced flank steak, chopped sweet onion, avocado slices, chopped tomato, and crisp shredded lettuce.  Go Greek and substitute tzatziki sauce for the avocado.  Fold in half and enjoy.  Yes, the fillings might squeeze out the ends but it’s OK to play with your food.  Don’t overstuff this handy hand sandwich… just eat more of them!

Suggested wine to pair with flank steak: dry or off-dry Rosé    

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