Friday, June 24, 2011

Review: Bittman's Kitchen, What I Grill and Why
Part 1 – Soy-marinated Flank Steak with Grilled Asparagus and Chapati

Celebrated critic and author Mark Bittman has recently released a Kindle Single focused on the art of grilling. Kindle Singles are a new digital format e-book from – at about twice the length of a New Yorker feature, they're generally 10,000-30,00 words and retail for $.99 to $5.99. In the case of Bittman's Kitchen,What I Grill and Why, this works out to an exposition and some basics on grilling and about 15 recipes, and it's on sale now through the end of summer for $.99, and sold regularly for $2.99. This is the first of a three part review. The first two parts will take a look at a few sample recipes, while the third will sum up our overall impressions of the offering. While I agree that three parts does seem a bit much for a short 99-cent recipe collection, that's how we roll here at Slop Press.

Meal Plan: Soy-marinated Flank Steak with Grilled Asparagus and Chapatis

This happened to coincide with a night that my vegetarian wife was busy with other dinner plans so I took the opportunity to test out the recipe that featured biggest chunk of meat I could find; flank steak. This would probably have been better paired with the Charred Corn with Chili Aioli or the Mixed Mediterranean Vegetables with Olive Oil and Oregano (also featured in ...What I Grill and Why), but asparagus was on sale, so that won out. Craving a starchy addition, the chapati were the only such option in the book (does a Kindle Single qualify as a book? Probably not). Please note that the instructions presented below aren't complete, and if any of this seems worth a try to you, 99 cents is a pretty easy investment.

The marinated flank steak is very straight forward.

Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Time:15 minutes plus time to marinate
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
6 to 8 garlic cloves, chopped
2 to 3 inches fresh ginger, chopped
3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 flank steak 1 ½ – 2 pounds
Salt and pepper

The instructions lead you to combine all the ingredients and marinate for anywhere from 2-8 hours. I didn't have fresh herbs on hand so I used dry ones, and since I was hungry I marinated for the minimum 2 hours. As the marinating time lengthens, the steak gets saltier and saltier from the absorbed soy sauce, so remember to keep that in mind. 

Once it was done marinating and had come up to room temperature, I slapped it on the grill for a few minutes a side, let rest, and sliced it against the grain.


The chapati are a simple combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour, water and salt. Bittman suggests combining the ingredients in a food processor, but for the half-recipe I was making, combining everything by hand with a fork in a bowl was quicker than having to washup the food precessor. Once the dough is formed into a ball, let it rest for a half hour, divide into 1.5” (3cm) balls and roll out to 6-8” (15-20cm) discs, 1/8” (3mm) thick. These are grilled for about a minute a side, until dark and toasty smelling.

I make dough, but don't call me dough boy.


I've been grilling asparagus with a bit of olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper for a few years now, and they are a divine simple pleasure. The recipe in this case calls for serving them with lemon juice and shaved parmesan, but I felt this addition wasn't necessary with the flank steak's flavour profile so I omitted them.
Ready for Grilling
In the end, everything was delicious. The marinated could probably have benefited from lemon or lime juice to enhance the ginger's zing, so I'll have to remember to add some next time. Also the chapati, while tasty, weren't an ideal accompaniment as they're a bit too hard to sop up the steak juices with, but I'd definitely make them again for a different meal.

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