Have you ever used Szechuan peppercorns? They are interesting in that contrary to what you might think, they aren't spicy black pepper or chiles. Even more twisted, they contain a chemical named hydroxy-alpha-sanshool, which creates a slight numbing effect. You can take advantage of this anesthetic effect by pairing it with spicy heat.
That's what we did with this Asian inspired Szechuan Pepper Steak that Alexis and I cooked this weekend. The Szechuan peppercorns bring a flowery, almost citrus flavor, and Garlic Chile Butter adds luscious spiciness. Of course, we cooked it on a grill, but you could absolutely do this on a stovetop.
Szechuan Pepper Steak
2 12-ounce Certified Angus Beef® Brand NY Strip Steaks
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 green onions, sliced on a bias for garnish
For the Dry Rub
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground toasted Szechuan Peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground dried ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
For the Chile Butter
4 tablespoons salted butter, left at room temperature for 1 hour
6 ounces lo mein noodles, cook according to package directions
Make the chile butter. Mix the butter, garlic chile sauce, and green onion together and then form into a log. If you made this ahead of time and refrigerated, leave it out at room temperature for about an hour so it will melt quickly when you put it on the steaks.
Set up and preheat your grill to 500°f. I set my Big Green Egg up, so it was easy to switch from stir-frying to searing the steak. See the pictures below to see how I did that.
Season the steaks. Lightly apply 1 tablespoon of peanut oil to the steaks. Combine the dry rub ingredients together and use the rub to season the steaks on both sides.
Stir fry the veggies. Allow the wok to preheat on the grill for 5 minutes and then add the oil. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the sauce to the wok and continue stir-frying for another minute. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
Grill the Steaks. Grill the steaks until your desired doneness. These strip steaks were a little thinner, so I grilled them about 3 minutes 15 seconds per side to get medium-rare. Place two pats of garlic chile butter on each steak as soon as the steaks come off of the grill.
Plate the dish. Place some of the noodles on the plate and top with the stir-fried veggies. Garnish with the green onion. Slice the steak and place the steak on top of the vegetables and noodles. If you have any butter leftover, you can melt and drizzle it over the steak.
Like most seed-based spices, Szechuan peppercorns benefit from being toasted before grinding them. Just toss them in a cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat and stir them around a bit until they become fragrant.
Garlic chile compound butter is excellent on steaks, chicken, pork and many types of seafood. This is based on a recipe I learned at Le Cordon Bleu in Vegas a few years ago and it's one of my favorite compound butters.
I couldn't resist this pair of USDA Prime, Certified Angus Beef® Brand NY Strip Steaks when I saw them at my Food City. Certified Angus Beef uses 10 science-based quality standards on top of the USDA requirements for Choice or Prime grades to ensure the marbling and juiciness of their beef.
I set my Big Green Egg up so I could easily switch from stir-frying to grilling. I put my cast iron grate on the bottom so it could be preheating while I wok-n-roll. Then I turned a spider rig upside down and used that for an improvised wok stand. When I was done stir-frying, I could just pull the wok and spider rig out and go straight to grilling the steaks.