Monday, April 27, 2009

Meat on a Veggie Stick - What's Not to Like?

Does your mouth water when you read this: grilled asparagus wrapped in STEAK? I thought so. It's exactly what I made to bring to an afternoon picnic a few weeks back, and what a time it was! Allow me to share.

In the company of good friends, good food doesn't always help make the memories. But it certainly doesn't hurt. Fortunately for me, so many of my dear friends are excellent cooks, and social gatherings abound with scrumptious fare. For this particular soiree, a crew of us gathered at the idyllic Sebastapol home of friends Beth and Simon to visit with some Bay Area ex-pats that we see far too often. Julie, Todd and their two cherubic tow-headed children were in town, and that was reason enough to fire up the barbecue.

The affair was largely potluck style - a great ploy to ensure that Jessica would bring dessert - always a highlight! (And of course, she delivered with a knock-out pumpkin/cherry bread that was really cake in loaf form.) Grilled organic sausages, beet salad, decadent cheese platters and lots of red, red wine all found their way to the table. As mentioned, my contribution was this self-fashioned "satay" - grilled asparagus spears wrapped in tri-tip - the idea of which was sparked from a picture I saw somewhere online, although I couldn't tell you where (maybe Yahoo Food?). At any rate, I marinated and basted the tri-tip with a Japanese Ponzu Sauce, and had peanut sauce for dipping. It's a dish that can be served either hot or cold - so it's pretty versatile and travels well. Really, a more perfect day could not have been had, and I'm only bummed that there were a few folks who weren't able to make it (they were missed - and you know who you are!).

At any rate, with spring asparagus starting to shoot up in the markets, this a perfect seasonal dish to enjoy right now. Just make sure to share it with friends - the only thing guaranteed to make the experience all the sweeter.

Asparagus and Beef Tri-Tip Satay
  • 1 pound asparagus spears, ends trimmed (I usually go for the thinnest possible asparagus, but in this case, a thicker stalk is actually preferable to stand up to the weight of the meat; go for stalks that are about dime-width.)
  • 1 pound beef tri-tip roast, sliced super thin
  • Ponzu sauce for marinating/basting
  • Peanut sauce for dipping (I actually don't make my own peanut sauce, so am not providing a recipe here. With so many excellent sauces on the commercial market, it's just as easy and tasty to buy it. My current go-to brand: House of Tsang.)
Ponzu sauce
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup dashi (or vegetable stock)
Start by blanching the asparagus spears by dropping into boiling water for approximately 2 minutes; remove and place immediately in an ice bath to halt the cooking process. Once cooled, drain the ice water and pat spears dry. Wrap each spear with a thin slice of the tri-tip; place in a shallow dish filled with the ponzu sauce. Coat each spear thoroughly with the sauce, and marinate for up to an hour. Place the marinated spears on a very hot grill; sear the beef for about 1 minute each side (the beef is very thin so the cooking doesn't take long at all). Baste the spears with the reserve ponzu while on the grill. Serve with peanut sauce for dipping.


  1. What's not to LOVE? is more like it. Nothing that I can see. Quick, easy and elegant...YUM! Thanks

  2. Thanks for posting your recipe! I'd never seen this idea before. It came out great when I tried it this week!