Last Sunday I made a barbequed Sichuan chicken. It was so successful that I decided to do something similar with a beef tri-tip. Beef will stand up to stronger flavors than chicken, so I added some onion, chili flakes and white pepper to the sauce.
Karl’s Barbecued Sichuan Tri-tip
1+ Tbs. Sichuan pepper, ground, separate uses
¼ cup light soy sauce
¼ cup dark soy sauce
2 Tbs. Xaioxing rice wine
1½ Tbs. yellow onion, finely grated
1½ Tbs. garlic, finely grated
1½ Tbs. ginger, finely grated
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. Chinese black vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. white pepper
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbs. water
1 beef tri-tip (about 2 lb.)
1. Grind the Sichuan pepper into a fine powder.
Tip: Even after a few hours, Sichuan pepper will lose some of its volatile elements. It is best to grind one half tablespoon for the marinade and grind the rest just before you sprinkle it onto the beef.
2. Put half a tablespoon of Sichuan pepper and the rest of the marinade ingredients—except the cornstarch— into a small bowl. Mix well and set aside to meld.
3. Trim the tri-tip to your liking, and cut half inch crosshatches through the fat cap.
Tip: Try to cut through the fat without cutting too deeply into the meat below.
Note: Beef tri-tips are sold either “trimmed” of “untrimmed,” meaning that the thick fat cap that covers one side of the roast has be completely or partially trimmed away—some cooks think that this is a heresy. With Jan’s fat restrictions I prefer mine mostly trimmed—an eighth inch cap is OK, but not a three eighths inch slab of dense fat. Some cooks prefer to remove the entirely fat cap.
4. Add half of the marinade to a gallon plastic bag and rub it into the crosshatch cuts.
Tip: Refrigerate the remaining marinade for later.
5. Squeeze the air out of the plastic bag, seal it tightly and put it in the refrigerator.
6. Marinate the beef for at least four hours—over night is better.
Tip: Turn the plastic bag over occasionally to redistribute the marinade.
7. One hour before you plan to start barbecuing, set the tri-tip on a tray on the counter and pat it dry with paper towels.
Tip: You are not trying to wipe off the marinade, you are just removing excess moisture.
Note: This rest at lets the meat come to room temperature and to allow the surface to dry out so that you get a good sear when the meat hits the meat.
8. Place the remaining marinade into a small pot and stir in just enough cornstarch to thicken the basting sauce.
9. Bring the sauce just to a boil and then remove the pot from the heat.
If using a charcoal grill:
10. Start your coals and when they are ready build a bi-level fire and place an aluminum pan on the front side of the barbecue. Replace the grill and heat it for 5 minutes.
Tip: Push all of the coals to the back of the barbecue. This gives you a hot zone—to sear—and a cooler zone—to roast the meat.
If using a gas grill:
10. Oil the grill and then set the burners on one side to high flame and the other side to low flame. Close the lid and let the grill heat for five minutes.
Note: Jan has finally talked me into going gas—we have had too many “spare the air” days spoiling our barbecues.
11. Place the tri-tip, fat cap side down on the hot side of the grill. Baste the top of the tri-tip and close the grill.
12. Sear the beef for 20 minutes.
13. Turn the meat over and place the thickest part of the roast at the edge of the coals/hot side of the grill with the thinner end slanted toward the cool side of the grill.
14. Baste the tri-tip again and insert a constant-read meat thermometer, set to 132º F, into the thickest part of the meat.
15. Close the grill again.
16. Continues roasting, covered and undisturbed, until the alarm rings, about another 20-30 minutes.
17. Remove the roast to a platter and baste the fat side once more.
18. Wrap the tri-tip in aluminum foil to rest for 10 minutes.
Tip: The covered meat will continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 138º F, as the heat from the outer parts of the meat moves into the center and the juices migrate to the outer edges.
19. Slice the beef across the grain into serving portions and baste with the remaining sauce.
Note: I use a bit of the sauce on my mushrooms.
20. Serve hot.