Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
½ Asian cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 small hot red or green chile, thinly sliced
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves
½ cup soy sauce
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons mirin
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes or Thai chili paste
Juice of 1 lime
1 pound sirloin, rib eye, or New York strip steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 scallions (white and light green parts), cut into 1-inch lengths, plus additional, sliced, for garnish
- First, pickle the cucumbers: In a small saucepan, heat the sugar, salt, vinegar, and ¼ cup water over medium-high heat until the sugar and salt dissolve; remove from heat. Put the cucumber, chile, and red onion in a medium bowl, and pour the hot brine over. Let cool; then add the cilantro. Chill.
- Make the beef skewers: In a medium bowl, blend the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, mirin, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes. Pour half of the mixture into a serving bowl, add the lime juice, and reserve for a dipping sauce. Put the beef cubes in a zipper bag and "pour in the remaining marinade. Seal the bag and massage the marinade into the meat. Put in a bowl, and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.
- Preheat a grill to high heat.
- Drain the meat, discarding the marinade. Thread the cubes onto skewers (1 to 4 per skewer), separating each cube with a round of scallion. Grill directly over coals, turning once, until nicely charred, about 3 minutes per side.
- Sprinkle with sliced scallions. Serve warm or cold with the reserved marinade for dipping and the pickled cucumbers and chiles on the side.