Emeril's marinated flank steak used to be one of our favorite flank steak recipes. Until the corn and soy allergies came into play. That basically took all asian dishes off our menu. Most of the sauces, pastes and rubs have soy in them. And if they don't have soy, then they definitely have some corn derivative. So I got all fancy schmancy and made soy sauce substitute and hoisin sauce and black bean sauce from scratch! Trouble was, the salted black beans I got at the asian grocery, (also known as fermented black beans), were not black beans as listed right there on the label. Oh, no. They were black SOY beans. No wonder we were still having problems. Oh I was just crushed. And more than slightly ticked. If they were bloody black soy beans, it should have said soy beans not just black beans. I guess I don't know enough about asian ingredients. And it's a lot of work to do all that stuff from scratch. So we gave up on those recipes for the foreseeable future.
The thing is, food allergies, sensitivities and chronic food sensitive conditions like celiac are becoming both more common, more understood and better documented. This has greatly improved the offerings available to people who need them. Just ask someone gluten free that was diagnosed ten years ago. Or even five or so. Gluten free used to mean cardboard or tennis shoe texture for baked goods. Now there are some options and mixes that even gluten loving folks would like. Bless the ever changing food industry. That's one of the reasons I went for a food degree. That was a subject that would always be innovative. (Of course it helps that gluten free is also now becoming an in vogue health trend promoted by celebrities.) And so I happened upon yet another new product. Coconut Aminos. Well what the heck is that? It's a non-soy sauce alternative made out of coconut sap of all things. I don't even remember how I found it, I was probably doing an online search for soy substitutes. So I made a trip to the nearest Whole Foods, praying that they would have it in stock and, YES! There it was. Now this stuff is interesting. It's naturally fermented and therefore fizzy. So don't shake it up really hard before you open it. Ask me how I know that... (It doesn't seem to be fizzy anymore in the last couple years - they have improved their formula and it tastes even better.) But it does have a very complex flavor similar to soy sauce, not as salty though. Plus it evidently has all these health benefits typical of unadulterated coconut products. It's raw and enzyme rich (good for your gut). Well, that's always a good thing. Modern guts need all the help they can get. Plus it has 17 different amino acids in it. I decided to take it on a test drive with Emeril's super easy recipe. I did add some additional sea salt to make it more equivalent to standard soy sauce. The result was fabulous. While I didn't do a side by side comparison of the two marinades, it tastes just like it should to my memory. I'll definitely be trying it in other recipes calling for soy sauce. This stuff is a god-send!
Update: I took this down to the folks for Christmas so they wouldn't have to prepare meals for so many days. My dad asked for the recipe! He has never asked for a recipe before.
Grilled Marinated Flank Steak - Soy Free
1 (2 to 3 pound) flank steak1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½-1 tsp sea salt (to taste - we were already used to reduced sodium soy sauce before we had to give up soy)
Update: Add an optional ½ tbsp South River Chickpea and Barley Miso (optional but awesome for authentic flavor, omit if using soy or tamari)
Place the flank steak in a gallon ziploc bag. In a 2-cup measuring cup combine the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust salt to preference. Pour the marinade into the bag with the steak, seal and marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours in advance. Preheat your grill. Remove the steak from the marinade. If desired, pour marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer the marinade for 10 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and keep warm. Place the steak on the grill and cook to desired doneness, about 6 minutes per side for rare. Transfer the steak to plate and let stand for 5 minutes before carving. Cut the steak across the grain into thin diagonal slices, and serve with the marinade sauce. (We don't usually deal with cooking the marinade since the steak is flavorful and juicy enough without it.)
Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
2 ½ tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.
If you do decide to cook the marinade for a sauce, this dish is great served over rice. (Which unfortunately is on my daughter's list of sensitivities.) Otherwise it's great with a salad and some homemade bread. If you've had to give up soy for yourself or a family member, do try out the coconut aminos. I'm sold. The next hurdle will be to come up with a soy free black bean sauce. That one may prove insurmountable, but we'll give it a run for its money! I have heard of a chickpea based tamari, so...