One of our secret ingredients to build flavor fast is miso. As an umami base, it helps balance and unify sweet and sour notes in everything from chicken to pasta, even cookies.
It goes particularly well in a sweet-savory marinade for grilled skirt steak, amplifying the meat's beefiness and balancing the sugars in Asian chili-garlic sauce.
In this recipe from our book "Milk Street Tuesday Nights," which limits recipes to 45 minutes or less, we preferred red miso for its rich flavor, which is deeper than the more common white miso (though white also would be delicious). For a double dose of flavor, we use it in the sauce and the marinade, which also includes soy sauce, sesame oil and a bit of white sugar.
Once the meat is cooking, the sugars in the marinade caramelize to create flavorful browning, and the steak finishes in only a few minutes on each side.
Though we developed this recipe for the stovetop, it will work equally well on a cleaned and well-oiled grill. Just be sure to thoroughly pat the meat dry so the marinade doesn't cause flare-ups. And don't force the pieces of steak to release from the skillet; when they're nicely seared and ready to be flipped, they will release easily.
Miso-Marinated Skirt Steak
Start to finish: 35 minutes
3 tablespoons red miso
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
1½ pounds skirt steak, trimmed and cut crosswise into 5- to 6-inch pieces, patted dry
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
5 teaspoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
In a medium bowl, whisk together the miso, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, sugar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Measure 2 teaspoons of the mixture into a small bowl and set aside. Add the steak to the remaining mixture, turn to coat and let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, to the reserved 2 teaspoons, stir in the vinegar and 3 teaspoons of the oil, then set aside.
Remove the steak from the bowl and pat dry with paper towels. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil until barely smoking. Add half of the steak in a single layer and cook without disturbing until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the second sides are well browned and the center of the thickest piece reaches 125°F for medium-rare, another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a platter, then repeat with the remaining steak, using the fat in the pan. Tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
Stir any accumulated juices on the platter into the reserved miso mixture. Cut the steak against the grain on the bias into thin slices and return to the platter. Serve with the miso sauce.