Charmoula, a traditional North African sauce, contains a full palette of herbs and spices, from the green of cilantro to the red of paprika and cayenne to the gold of turmeric. Although this versatile sauce has almost endless uses—try it slathered on roasted potatoes, spooned onto an omelet or used as a dip for warm pita wedges—here it is a flavorful finish for simple grilled steaks. You can prepare the charmoula up to 3 days ahead of time. Pour a thin layer of olive oil on top, cover tightly and refrigerate, but allow it to come to room temperature before serving.
Grilled Steak with Charmoula
For the charmoula:
2 cups (2 oz./60 g) lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
1 cup (1 oz./30 g) lightly packed fresh flat-left parsley leaves and tender stems
1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Peanut or olive oil for brushing
1 1/2 to 2 lb. (750 g to 1 kg) boneless rib-eye or strip steaks, at least 1 1/4 inches (3 cm) thick
To make the charmoula, in a blender or food processor, combine the cilantro, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, paprika, cumin, salt, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Process until the herbs are finely chopped and the sauce is well blended, stopping the machine and scraping down the sides of the jar or work bowl as needed. (Or, combine in a mortar and pulverize with a pestle.) Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.
Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to high. Brush the grill rack with peanut oil. Pat the steaks dry and arrange directly over the heat on the grill. Sear for 1 to 2 minutes on the first side, then turn and sear for 1 to 2 minutes on the second side. Take care not to let the flames flare up; if they do, move the steaks to the side until the flare-up subsides, then return to direct heat.
After the steaks have cooked for 4 to 6 minutes total, turn them again and move them to the cooler edge of the grill. Cover the grill and let cook to the desired doneness, about 3 minutes longer for medium-rare; an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a steak should register 125°F (52°C).
Transfer the steaks to a cutting board. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes. To serve, pour the charmoula into a small bowl. Cut the steaks against the grain on the diagonal into thin slices and arrange on a serving platter along with the charmoula. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
Recipe adapted from Good Food to Share, by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan