Friday, October 21, 2011

Weeknight Recipe: Beef Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Ever get stuck in a menu rut?  Particularly during the busy weekdays, it’s so easy to find yourself turning to the same old stand-bys over and over again – almost like you’re sleepwalking. 
Here’s a recipe that’s sure to mix things up – compliments of Schnucks Cooks, the monthly publication my local grocery chain distributes.  This particular one was in the Spring/Summer issue.  My family loves this recipe (that includes my kids) and they literally beg me to make it.  

It requires a couple of “odd” ingredients, but they’re ones that you can stock up on and have ready on hand when you need them.  For example, the coconut milk comes in cans from your Asian food section – so I buy a couple at a time to keep in my pantry.  The fish sauce is something I store for long periods in my refrigerator.  It’s a small bottle, so it doesn’t take up much space.  

When I walk in the door, I slice the flank steak, mix up the marinade, and get the meat soaking in it while I help kids with homework or other chores.  Sometimes I mix it all up in the morning and let it marinade in the fridge all day.  I don’t think you can over-marinade it!  I also start soaking the skewers in water right away.

The sauce is so amazing and there’s more than needed for just the meat, so I serve this dish with steamed rice to which I’ve added sliced green onions and mix some of the sauce with it on my plate.  I finally broke down and bought a rice steamer (it was like $25, and I know you can find them even cheaper), which has made rice prep a 30-second task with an occasional stir for perfect rice every time.  I use short or medium grain so it’s a bit stickier, which my kids and I love. 

Beef Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce
18  6-inch  bamboo skewers
1 lime (I keep some bottled lime juice in the fridge in case I’m out of fresh limes when I need it)
3 garlic cloves (again – I turned to minced from a jar the other night to make things simpler)
1 3/4 cups well-stirred unsweetened coconut milk, divided
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger (or substitute 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger from a spice jar)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 1/2 pounds flank steak, sliced diagonally across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (I’ve also substituted Worcestershire sauce )
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1.  Soak skewers with water in a wide shallow dish (this keeps them from burning up when you cook the meat on them) 

Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons lime juice into a blender or food processor with knife-blade attached.  Add garlic, 3/4 cup coconut milk, brown sugar, fish sauce, ginger and turmeric.  Puree until smooth. 

2.  In a medium bowl, toss steak with 1/2 cup of the above coconut marinade.  Set aside the remaining marinade.  Cover beef and refrigerate 30 minutes to marinate.

3.  In a 1-2 quart saucepan, heat peanut butter, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, remaining 1/2 cup coconut milk and coconut marinade over low heat for 4 minutes or until mixture simmers, stirring occasionally with a whisk.  Simmer 2 minutes, remove saucepan from heat. Cover and keep warm.  Makes about 1 3/4 cups of sauce.

4.  Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling over high heat.  Remove beef from marinade and thread onto skewers.  Place skewers on hot grill rack and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until browned on the outside and still pink in the center, turning skewers once.  Serve with peanut sauce for dipping.

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