Asian pears contain enzymes that act as meat tenderizers; you often find them listed on the ingredients of Korean barbecue marinades. The dressing in this recipe is used as a marinade for skirt steak: a thin, flat cut that comes from the flank. The meat is flavorful, but it can be tough. An hour in this pear marinade eliminates that problem.
If you can't find thin asparagus, cut thicker stalks in half lengthwise. Green beans are also excellent in this salad.
A mandoline or Japanese slicer makes short work of slicing batons from around the Asian pear's core.
Make Ahead: The meat needs to marinate for 1 hour. The dressing can be made a day in advance. The salad is great the next day, but drain off some of the liquid that will have leached from the pear batons. Do not marinate the steak for more than an hour.
- For the dressing/marinade
- 1 large Asian pear, about the size of a softball, peeled and cored
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Thai red chile paste
- 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- For the salad
- 1 pound skirt steak
- 8 ounces thin, 4-inch-long asparagus tips, blanched (see NOTE)
- 8 ounces (1/4 head) savoy cabbage, cored and very thinly shredded
- 1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into matchstick-size strips (julienne)
- 4 scallions, white and light-green parts, trimmed and chopped (1/2 cup)
- 1 large Asian pear, about the size of a softball, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch batons (like shoestring French fries)
- 1-inch piece peeled ginger root, grated
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, sliced into razor-thin rings
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/4 cup water
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
For the dressing/marinade: cut the Asian pear into chunks, transfer them to a mini-food processor and add the fish sauce, soy sauce, chili paste, rice vinegar and sesame oil. Puree until smooth. The yield is 1 1/2 cups.
For the salad: Place the skirt steak in a gallon-size resealable plastic food storage bag. Pour in 1/2 cup of the dressing/marinade, massaging the bag to make sure the meat is completely coated. Place the bag on a plate so that the meat lies flat, and let it marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
Combine the asparagus, cabbage, red bell pepper, scallions, Asian pear, ginger and jalapeno in a large bowl. Add the remaining 1 cup of dressing/marinade and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate.
When ready to cook, remove the steak from the marinade and blot dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Discard the marinade.
Heat the canola oil in a cast-iron skillet over high heat until the oil is almost smoking. Add the steak and sear on each side for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate to rest for 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the water to the skillet, scraping to dislodge any browned bits, then add that pan liquid to the vegetables.
To assemble, mound the vegetables on a platter. Cut the meat into thin strips and arrange them on the vegetables, pouring any accumulated juices from the plate on top of them. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve right away.
NOTE: To blanch the asparagus tips, have ready a bowl of ice water. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus tips and cook for 30 seconds, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the ice water bath to stop their cooking. Blot dry on paper towels.
From The Process columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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