Despite certain connotations with roaring fires and fishbowls of Malbec, steak has always struck me as a summertime food. Picture: blazing-hot barbecues in lush back gardens, slabs of meat sputtering over the coals, savoury smoke curling into the humid evening.
Even if, like me, you’re making do with a cast-iron frying pan on the hob, steak – especially the quicker-cooking cuts – becomes a simple summertime main: just serve yours with a tomato salad or grilled sweet corn. Or, as I’ve done here – inspired by a recent column in the Los Angeles Times – dressed with a bright, zippy salsa.
This salsa – a distant cousin of chimichurri, by way of Mexico – epitomises summer lushness and its varied shades of green. There is vivid parsley and coriander and mint, ombré spring onions and creamy nuggets of avocado, plus lime juice and dusky pistachios. All contrast beautifully with the red at the heart of the steak, both on the plate and on the palate. Rarely has red meat felt lighter, fresher and better suited to mid-summer.
Red meat always needs a beer of some heft to go with it: lager is refreshing but lacks the requisite body, and pales and session IPAs aren’t quite punchy enough. Instead, your best option is to go with a bold and juicy IPA – like Cloudwater’s Aromas & Flavours, one of the latest in the brewery’s series of double dry-hopped IPAs made with hand-selected hops straight from Yakima, Washington.
Hopped with Citra, as well as Centennial and Chinook, this 6.5% IPA is luscious up front, with a peach-and-nectarine sweetness that eventually lapses into a subtle, resinous bitterness. That bitterness is key in counterbalancing the steak, in cutting through it like a blade, though the ample fruit aromatics are also well matched by the citrus and herbaceousness of the salsa. Overall, the two are perfectly harmonious, and together make a fine candidate for a late dinner out on the porch.
Skirt Steak with Avocado Herb Salsa and Toasted Pistachios
Adapted from the LA Times
For the steak:
2 skirt steaks, approximately 250g each
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Freshly ground black pepper
100g (3 ½ oz) pistachio kernels
2–3 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the salsa:
3–4 garlic cloves
Pinch coarse sea salt
120ml lime juice (from approximately 4-5 limes)
1 bird’s eye chilli, minced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced (dark and light-green parts only)
1 small handful coriander, finely chopped
1 small handful mint, finely chopped
1 small handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 ripe, medium avocado, finely diced
120ml extra virgin olive oil
Pinch caster sugar
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Remove the steaks from the fridge, and season generously with flaky sea salt and black pepper on all sides. Leave to come to room temperature as you do the rest of your prep.
2. Add the pistachios to a small frying pan, and place over medium-high heat. Toast, tossing frequently, for approximately 5–6 minutes, or until the pistachios are golden-brown and fragrant. Remove from the heat. Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop and set aside.
3. Make the salsa. Mince the garlic cloves, then add a pinch of sea salt. Using the flat side of your knife, crush and scrape the garlic against the cutting board. Alternate between chopping and crushing the garlic until you have a paste. Transfer to a medium bowl.
4. Add the lime juice, chilli and spring onions to the bowl with the garlic and leave for five minutes. Add the chopped herbs and the diced avocado, and pour over the olive oil. Stir to mix and add a pinch of sugar. Season to taste, generously, with the salt (begin with 1 teaspoon and increase from there) and the pepper. Set aside.
5. Place a heavy-bottomed frying pan (preferably cast-iron) over high heat and add the vegetable oil. Once very hot, add the steaks. Cook approximately 2 minutes per side for rare/medium-rare (skirt steak is best cooked quickly and not overdone); the steak should be well charred on the outside but still juicy and pink within. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil; allow the steaks to rest for five minutes before carving, with a sharp knife, against the grain.
6. To serve, scatter slices of the steak across two plates. Dollop the salsa over the plates, and finish with the chopped pistachios. Serve immediately.
Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is out now and available in all good book stores (and at HB&B). Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.