Korean-style barbecued skirt steak with gochujang mayo

Niamh Shields serves up an incredible Korean-style barbecued skirt steak recipe. This underrated cut is marinated in gochujang, anchovy sauce and soy before searing swiftly on the barbecue for a rich finish with a delicate heat. Feel free to use a chargrill pan instead if the weather is against you.

First published in 2017
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I say steak and you think expensive, right? Most people do. Steak is much more that fillet, sirloin, ribeye and rump. There are many types of steak stretched along a variety of price points. One of the better ones, and cheapest too, is skirt steak. An inexpensive and undervalued cut of beef that with a little bit of understanding and care is as good as any cut.

When it comes to steak, we are obsessed tenderness and texture and think that expensive steak is tender and cheap steak is tough. Not so. Also, texture in steak and a bit of chew is a good thing. Most steak aficionados turn their nose up at fillet steak (not me, I think it has its place and I quite enjoy it in the right dish), but all agree that skirt steak is terrific.

Skirt steak is a long flat steak with long fibres from the under belly of the cow. The secret to cooking it well is to cut it against the grain (or ask your butcher to), if you cut with the long fibres they will just tighten as it cooks and make the steak tough. By cutting against the grain you create a steak with short fibres, and this steak will stay juicy as it cooks. A skirt steak is best cooked rare or medium rare but never more than medium, after medium it will just be tough and missing the juices that give it that great flavour.

I love Korean flavours. The Korean love of fermentation gifts the world with brilliant ingredients like gochujang, a hot paste made from gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes), glutinous rice, fermented soy bean powder, barley malt powder and salt. As the gochujang ferments, the breakdown of the glutinous rice releases a slight sweetness. Gochujang is an essential store cupboard ingredient for me, it gives most things that little something that you didn’t know it needed. Bright, hot and deep, gochujang like most fermented foods gifts quick-cooked dishes the gift of time, or the idea that it was cooked longer with deeper flavour.

Skirt steak loves a marinade and benefits enormously from it. Marinade overnight if you can, or at a minimum 2–4 hours. This recipe for skirt steak in Korean marinade when cooked rare or medium rare results in a juicy and tender steak with wonderful flavours. Hot but not too much so, deep and rich.





Korean-style barbecued skirt steak

Gochujang mayo

To garnish


If your steaks are uneven, pound them with a meat hammer or a rolling pin until they are flat. This will also help tenderise the steaks
Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and massage it into the steaks. Store in a covered container or in a ziplock bag in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight if you have the time (this will yield the best results)
Remove the steaks from the fridge an hour before you plan to cook them. Steaks cook best from room temperature. Normally you would salt the steak lightly 10 minutes before you cook it, but here the marinade has salt in already (in the gochujang, soy sauce and fish sauce), so I finish it with salt after slicing instead. Just a little
It is always best to cook skirt steak over high intense heat. You can barbecue this or fry it in a pan. If you are going to fry it, use the heaviest pan you have, preferably cast iron. Heat the pan over the highest heat for a few minutes and oil the steak before putting it in the pan (always oil the steak not the pan). For rare, depending on how thick your steak is, you need only cook it for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side. When you press the steak you want it to have a little resistance but still be quite soft. The same applies for the barbecue – a high heat and quick sear
The steak will continue to cook once you take it off the heat so bear this in mind when cooking it to your preferred doneness, and always allow time to rest. Resting the meat allows the fibres to relax and the juices to redistribute
Mix the gochujang and mayonnaise well
Serve the steak sliced slightly on the diagonal and cut against the grain – this is important, otherwise you will have stringy steak. Sprinkle with sea salt, coriander and spring onion and serve the gochujang mayo on the side. There is never such a thing as too much gochujang! This also makes an epic steak sandwich
First published in 2017

Niamh Shields is a scientist turned food writer. Based in London and originally from Ireland, Niamh travels the world for much of the year exploring food and flavours, and develops recipes in her London kitchen to share on her award winning blog eatlikeagirl.com.

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