Lunchbreak: Flank steak with Thai salad, prepared by chef Floyd Cardoz

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Chef Floyd Cardoz

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Floyd Cardoz: Flavorwalla: Big Flavor. Bold Spices. A New Way to Cook the Foods You Love.

Flank Steak with Thai Salad
Serves 4

For the Steak:
3 Tablespoons canola oil
6 garlic cloves, smashed
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
One 1-pound/454-gram flank steak

For the Salad:
1/3 cup fish sauce
3 Tablespoons canola oil
juice of 3 limes
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh Thai chile, or more to taste
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced on the bias (white and green parts)
1 cup thinly sliced Thai basil leaves, with tender stems
1 cup thinly sliced washed and dried cilantro leaves with tender stems
1 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

In a large ziplock bag, combine the oil, garlic, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Seal the bag and rub the mixture around a bit to blend it together. Add the steak and massage the bag to coat the steak with the marinade. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 4 hours. (If you leave the salt out, you can marinate the steak for up to 24 hours.) In a large bowl, combine the fish sauce, oil, lime juice, sugar, ginger, and Thai chile; stir. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 15 minutes to 2 hours. Prepare a high-heat grill. Remove the bag with the steak from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while the grill heats. Remove the steak from the marinade and salt it on both sides if you did not add salt to the marinade. Grill for about 6 minutes per side for rare, or to the desired doneness. Transfer the steak to a cooling rack to rest for 6 minutes. Meanwhile, add the scallions, Thai basil, cilantro, mint, and red onion to the bowl with the vinaigrette. Toss gently to combine. Slice the steak against the grain and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon the salad over the steak and serve.

Cooking Time: About 30 minutes / Inactive Time: 4 to 24 hours for marinating the steak

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Zest and Mustard
Serves 6 to 8

2 bunches pencil asparagus (about 2 pounds/107 grams), washed and dried (see note)
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
½ teaspoon chile flakes
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
minced zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 Tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced serrano chile

Prepare a hot grill. Place a grill basket on the grill to heat. Trim the asparagus so that the spears are 4 to 6 inches long. Place the asparagus in a bowl. Heat a small pot over medium heat. Add the canola oil, and when it starts to shimmer, add the mustard seeds. Cook, stirring and shaking the pan, until the mustard seeds pop, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the mustard seeds and oil over the asparagus. Add the chile flakes and season with salt and pepper. Pour over 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and toss until well coated. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil with the lemon zest and juice, shallots, ginger, and chile. Set aside. (Everything can be done up until this point up to 2 hours in advance and set aside at room temperature.) Place the asparagus in the hot grill basket and cook, shaking the basket occasionally, until crisp-tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a serving dish. Pour the lemon–olive oil mixture over it and mix well. Serve.

I always preferred sautéing or roasting asparagus until I started growing it in my garden. I don’t know if it was the proximity of garden to grill that provided a push in this direction, but from the first time I grilled asparagus, it has been my favorite way to cook it. I love the method here in particular because you can prepare everything several hours ahead of time so that it’s ready to toss on the grill once it’s hot. (Note that on a day when the grill isn’t lit, you can go back to my old ways and sauté the asparagus in canola oil in a wide pan over high heat or roast it in a 425°F oven.)

If you don’t grow your own, truly fresh asparagus can be hard to find. Choose asparagus bunches that are standing upright with their stems in water. The base of the stems should not be shriveled or dry. The tips should be stiff and tight, with no moist or mushy sections. Be sure to clean asparagus thoroughly. The shoots grow straight up out of the ground, and lots of dirt can hide in the tight leaves at the top of each spear.

Washing Asparagus

Asparagus needs thorough rinsing to get rid of all the sand that can hide in its tight leaves and tips. To wash it well, place the asparagus tips down in a cylindrical container, such as a wine bucket or a thermos. Fill the container with cold water and let stand for 20 minutes, periodically shaking the asparagus to get the dirt out. Remove the asparagus from the water and shake dry.

Excerpted from Floyd Cardoz: Flavorwalla by Floyd Cardoz (Artisan Books). Copyright ©2016.