Why the smoke? Well, when you place a juiced-up piece of meat into a fiery hot cast-iron skillet, you're bound to get a reaction! We needed to get the glaze together before we started on the steak - which was done by pacing a good dose of soy sauce, mirin (a sweet rice wine), rice vinegar, a clove of minced garlic and a healthy pinch of crushed red pepper into one of our smaller saucepans. Brought up to a rapid bubble, we turned the heat down to a simmer and let the mixture concentrate itself down until we had about half of the volume from where we started.
Usually these types of steaks are dosed in a marinade, but this big 'ol hunk of steak was simply seasoned with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Making sure the heavy skillet was well heated first, we then placed the steak inside, turning it once to give each side a well-developed caramelized crust. Brushed with a portion of the glaze, we flipped the steak over to brush the naked side with the rest of the glaze, then turned it once more to finish cooking it through. This gives you a steak that is medium-rare, perfect with this cut, but if that isn't your style, let it go to your desired degree of doneness. If you know you'll want to bring the steak to a higher internal temperature, wait to put the glaze on until the last two minutes or so to prevent it from scorching.
Be sure that you give the steak at least a five minute rest before you go slicing into it, letting the juices redistribute throughout. When you are ready to divvy it up, pull at the meat a little so you can see which way the grain is running - this way you can be sure you are slicing against the grain for the best tender quality. Also try and keep the thickness of the meat in check - thinner is better, around 1/8 to 1/4" thick.
We had this, a smashed new potato side (which I need to get written up still!) and a hearty piece of crusty bread, which filled us right up, but if you're looking for a lighter dinner, serving the strips of steak over a mess of salad greens would be lovely! Since the steak cooks so quickly, it retains a buttery, tender texture, while the pungent glaze adds a salty, sweet bite with just enough kick from the crushed red pepper for a little burn. If you've never cooked a steak in a cast-iron skillet before, you must give this recipe a try just to see how you've been missing out - it's one magical experience.
Soy-Glazed Flank Steak