Like the Blistered Padrón Peppers, skirt steak was a staple during my summer childhood dinners. My second home was just down the street at the Schmidt’s house—my sisters and I practically lived there during summer vacation for several years, running around the neighborhood with their three kids, stealing Go-Gurts from the freezer and spoonfuls of Skippy peanut butter from their pantry. Our families went on joint camping trips and us kids spent most waking hours together; they were a second family to us. Theirs was the kind of house you never knew what was going to happen: one day we’d be Russian leg wrestling for hours on the living room floor, the next we’d be jumping on their trampoline that they’d mounded high with shaving cream (yes, shaving cream), the day after that would see us chucking water balloons at each other up and down the street, the smell of wet asphalt rising in waves of steam. We created a row of personal mini campfires in their backyard, blasted Shania Twain’s Man, I Feel Like a Woman and ran around in our underwear (that activity stopped way before middle school), and climbed their neighbor’s strangely itchy tree, pretending to be monkeys. Some nights we played an intense and almost-silent game of capture the flag (the flag was a banana), slept under the stars and woke up dusted with dew, or baked brownies out of a box and ate so many we felt a little sick. Needless to say, days spent with the Schmidts were some of the best and most surprising days of my life.
For a while there, our two families ate weekly dinners together. Ray (the dad of the Schmidt family) would often barbecue a few large pieces of skirt steak for said family dinners. He always took it off the heat at the perfect time, rested it for as long as we could wait, and sliced it up into thin strips that we quickly snatched up and gobbled down. It was always salty, a little sweet, so tender and full of delicious fat that it tasted like butter.
I don’t know what exactly Ray did to his steak to make it so good, but my recipe is as close to his as I could get (luckily, mine is just as good). The steak gets marinated in a salty, tangy, citrusy concoction, sprinkled liberally with salt and pepper, then barbecued until a little charred on the outside but still pink on the inside. It’s salty, a little sweet from the honey, buttery, and mouth-wateringly delicious. This steak is actually one of Phoebe’s favorite foods, which is funny because she’s quite a particular child when it comes to food. She clearly knows the good stuff. Make this steak for your family (first or second), a group of friends, or (as always) for yourself. If you can, eat it outside when the evening is still warm and make the most of these waning summer days.
Shout out to my husband, Jonji, who always grills this steak to perfection and who I had to consult to make sure I wrote this recipe correctly!
Soy-Honey Grilled Skirt Steak
1 1/2 lbs skirt steak, preferably grass-fed
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tbsp fish sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp honey
freshly ground black pepper
*As a general rule, boneless meat should be seasoned at least a couple hours ahead of time with about 1 3/4 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal, specifically—there is a difference in saltiness between salts) per 1 lb of meat. Since we’re using soy sauce and fish sauce in the marinade, we want to use a bit less for this recipe. I always eyeball my meat salting, but if you want to play by the rules I would use about 2 generous tsp kosher salt.
At least an hour, but ideally a few hours, before you plan to grill the steak, make the marinade. In a large baking dish or bowl, whisk together the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1-2 tbsp fish sauce (depending on how much funk you want), 1 clove of sliced garlic, and 2 tsp honey. If your skirt steak came in long lengths, cut them into pieces roughly 12 inches long. Layer your steak in the baking dish and crack a decent amount of pepper over all of it. Sprinkle with about 1 tsp salt (see above for more details on salting). Turn the steak and repeat with the pepper and another 1 tsp salt. Cover and keep in the fridge until ready to grill.
Heat the grill on high for 10-15 minutes. Using tongs, lay the steak horizontally and evenly across the grill. Cook over direct flame (high heat) with the lid down for 2-4 minutes on one side (depending on the thickness of the steak), then flip and cook for another 2-4 minutes. I recommend using an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the steak, which should be about 120-130°F for rare steak (it will increase about 5° while it rests). If you like your steak more well-done, go for an internal temperature of around 140-150°F. Let the meat rest on a cutting board or plate for 5-10 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain and serve hot. Enjoy!