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Skirt Steak--What Went Wrong--Marinade Problem?

It looked beautiful, but was as tough as nails. I trimmed it well, marinated it for 7 hours (see below), then grilled it on high heat for about 8 minutes total (med rare-med).

Was my marinade the problem?

There's a restaurant that serves a killer grilled skirt steak salad. The waiter gave me the *ingredient list*, but no proportions. Below is the marinade I devised. Do you think it needs more acidity to tenderize the meat? I will add a bit more maple syrup (or molasses?) next time, as it was not as sweet as the restaurant's version.

Funwithfood's Attempt at the...
"Best" Skirt Steak Marinade:

1/4 cup soy sauce (only had TJs low-sodium on hand)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp. molasses
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 garlic clove, minced (not in ingr list, I added)
3/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper (" ")

Marinade for 2 pounds of skirt steak.

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    1. re: dano

      Across the grain, like my flank steak.

    2. 8 minutes is insanely long for cooking skirt steak, especially over high heat!

      I'd start testing for doneness after 2 minutes. Press the meat with your finger - medium rare should offer as much resistance as the center of your palm.

      1 Reply
      1. We have ours rare and only marinade in olive oil, S&P, cumin, crushed garlic, chili pep and some brown sugar for about an hour and a half and ours are always super soft. Where did you buy the cut?

        1. I don't think the problem was with your marinade. Having said that, I would have used equal portions salty (soy sauce), sweet (molasses+syrup), and acid (vinegar). But if you liked the taste of the marinade above, no reason to alter it. Adding more acid would have altered the taste (and acid will stimulate your salivary glands) but it will not appreciably tenderize the meat on its own.

          I would suggest two things regarding the meat being tough:
          1. You have to slice relatively thinly and against the grain. Skirt steak is not very forgiving in this regard. Against the grain is very, very important.

          2. Are you sure it was medium/medium-rare? Overcooking could make it on the tough side.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Darren72

            It really was cooked just right. This skirt steak was VERY thin. It seemed thinner than the one served at the restaurant. (I purchased mine from a restaurant supply place.)

            My gut feeling was that it was either the super thin-ness (1/2"-3/4"), or the marinade did not work to soften the meat properly. (I was hesitant to use too much acidity in the marinade *because* of it's thin-ness.)

            1. re: Funwithfood

              It is a common misconception that acid (like lime juice or vinegar) will tenderize meat. The truth is that the enzymes in these acidic ingredients simply aren't strong enough to tenderize meat. Instead, foods marinated in acid will stimulate your salivary glands when you eat them, which does help break down meat. So, upping the acid in the marinade will not literally break down the meat fibers.

              In these situations, all you really can do is experiement. Next time try cutting the steak into thirds and vary the cooking time, or marinade time.

              Also, after you cook it, let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

          2. Try just searing it on high heat on both sides, and then reduce the heat to cook it through to the degree you like.