Smashed Cucumber Salad

2 long, preferably seedless cucumbers (about 1 to 1½ lbs.)
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons chili oil (optional – click the link and scroll down for a recipe)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
a small handful of chopped cilantro

Note: if you prefer to omit the chili oil, heat up a tablespoon of oil in a pan and drizzle it over the cucumber. Seems weird, but in Chinese cooking, uncooked vs. cooked oil have different flavors and are treated as such!

Wash the cucumbers and pat them dry with a clean towel. Make the salad dressing by combining the salt, sugar, sesame oil, light soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Stir until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Set aside.

On a cutting board, lay a large knife flat against the cucumber, and smash it lightly with your other hand. The cucumber should crack open and smash into four sections. Repeat along its full length. Once the whole cucumber is completely open (usually into 4 long sectional pieces), cut it at a 45-degree angle into bite-sized pieces.

In a large bowl, mix the cut cucumber with the prepared dressing, garlic and chili oil (or cooked plain oil), and toss it well. Serve, garnished with sesame seeds and cilantro.

Grilled Ribeye with Soy Butter

1 thick-cut rib-eye steak
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

Rinse the steak under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle on all sides with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat your grill to the max heat–that means at least three of the burners on full blast high, and keeping the lid closed for a good 5-10 minutes.

Mix the melted butter together with the soy sauce in a small bowl. When the grill is heated, put the steak on the grill, letting it brown for about 1-2 minutes. You can close the grill lid to let the heat build up and get some nice caramelization on the edges of the steak. After 1-2 minutes, turn the steak 45 degrees to get those pretty grill marks. Let cook again for 1-2 minutes. Flip the steak and repeat the above steps for the other side.

When the steak is pretty well-browned on both sides, use your tongs lift up the steak and brown the edges. Thick cut steaks need TLC on the edges too! Now for the soy-butter glaze.

Liberally brush the steak with the soy-butter mixture using a heat-proof basting brush. Flip the steak and brush the other side. You may want to wear an oven mitt for this process, as the butter may cause some fairly strong flame-ups. The glaze will make the steak perfectly caramelized and charred on the outside! Those grill marks we worked on earlier add the perfect uniformity of char and color!

Liberally glaze the steak continuously until it’s cooked to your preferred doneness–rare, medium-rare, medium, etc; this translates to grilling the steak for an additional 3-5 minutes for medium-rare, 5-7 minutes for medium, or 8-10 minutes for medium-well, though this does depend on steak thickness. A better test for doneness is to poke the steak gently with the tongs. The squishier it is, the rarer your steak will be. More firm means more well-done. Simple right?

Remove the steak from the heat and let rest for 10-15 minutes. It’s a long time, we know, but it’ll all be worth it when you cut into your steak and skip the lake of beef juice that escapes onto your cutting board!

Serve with additional soy-butter glaze on the side (you can make a fresh batch or reheat what you used to baste the steak–remember that you basted the steak once it was cooked on the outside, so it’s safe to consume post-grilling).

Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri

1 bunch of parsley
1 bulb of garlic
2/3 cup neutral oil (such as canola oil, light olive oil, or grapeseed oil)
1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
? teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
juice of half a lime
Skirt steak (Make however much you want! You’ll have plenty of chimichurri to go with it.)

Pick the leaves off your bunch of parsley, and finely chop them. Peel all your garlic cloves and mince finely. You can use a food processor, garlic press, or an old fashioned knife and cutting board.

In a small bowl, combine the parsley, garlic, oil, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, and lime juice. Stir well to combine.

Fire up your grill to preheat. Season your steak with salt and pepper. When your grill is extremely hot (if you have a thermometer on your grill, it should be in the range of 500-600F), lay the steaks on the grill. Skirt steaks are very thin, so this process will be quick. Do not close the grill, and don’t walk away!

When the first side has been on the grill for about 1 minute, rotate the steaks to get some solid grill marks. After another minute, flip the steak, letting cook for 1 minute, then rotating, then letting cook for another minute or two. Once you’ve established a solid criss-cross, you can start moving around a little bit more erratically. This will ensure that you get a delicious uniform grill crust. These instructions are for medium rare, which is in our opinion the best way to enjoy your steak. If you like it more or less well done, add or subtract cooking time.

When the steak is cooked, transfer to a plate and let rest for a solid 10 minutes. Don’t cut into it before then. Serve as large steaks or slice against the grain and top with generous amounts of chimichurri.