home cooked dinners by the season

Island Teriyaki Grilled Flat Iron Steak

Island Teriyaki Grilled Flat Iron Steak


It never occurred to me I’d lose my recipes. But many years ago the morning our house burned to the ground they were gone. It was a very sad and humbling day for our family. But there was a silver lining. We were not in the house when the spontaneous combustion induced fire broke out, saving us the trauma of escaping a burning home.

It took time to grieve the loss but my take away was simple. With the exception of our family videos, material possessions are replaceable so don’t get too attached to them. And what goes around comes around. Many of my recipes I had shared with family and friends were returned to me on hand written recipe cards, typed in word documents and photocopies of my originals. This recipe for island teriyaki was one of them.

My girlfriend’s mom introduced me to this recipe when I was thirteen. My first bite into the caramelized soy and brown sugar steak with hints of ginger and garlic is as vivid today as it was then. I’m guessing I’ve made this recipe at least a hundred times with some modifications over the years and shared it as often as someone tries it. It’s simple, easy and impressive. But here’s the interesting thing. Up until this year I’ve always made it with flank steak. And it’s wonderful that way. But more recently I’ve taken a liking to making it with flat iron steak. Here’s why.


Flat iron steak comes from the shoulder area of a cow called the chuck (this is also the area where the chuck roast commonly used for making pot roast, which is one of my favorite cuts of beef for its fall apart texture and deep flavor, comes from). So it comes from a completely different area on the cow as flank steak (which comes from the underside abdominal area). Flat iron steak has significant marbling that gives it rich flavor. It comes in approximately 1-1/2 pound pieces shaped in a flat rectangular shape about five by fifteen inches which I think is perfect for serving four people. It takes well to marinating and it cooks fairly evenly. I have read two possibilities for its name origin. The first is that the tough piece of connective tissue that runs in between the piece of beef and that has to be removed by the butcher before separating it into two pieces is referred to as “iron”. The other is that it’s shaped like an old flat iron. More recently you’ll find flat iron steak on restaurant menus and with increasing availability in grocery stores (although some don’t carry it).

I’ll be making my recipe for Rubbed Barbecue Pork Back Ribs  I posted several years ago for our 4th of July dinner. They’re a tradition I can’t mess with. But if I weren’t cooking ribs, Island Teriyaki would be on my grill just as it is for many occasions all summer long.

Island Teriyaki Grilled Flat Iron Steak
Serves: 4
  • ½ cup soy sauce (reduced sodium soy sauce can be used)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • Several grinds of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 lb flat iron steak
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped green onions, optional as a garnish
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, optional as a garnish
  1. Whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, olive oil, ginger, garlic and pepper. Pour over flat iron steak, turning several times. Cover and refrigerate preferably for 24 hours but at least for 12, turning several times while marinating.
  2. Preheat grill to medium heat; remove steak from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill 5 minutes, then turn and cook until desired doneness is reached, about 5 to 7 minutes longer for medium rare.
  3. Remove from grill and allow steak to sit for 10 minutes (“rest” to allow juices to settle) before thinly slicing.
  4. As an option, sprinkle with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.


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3 thoughts on “Island Teriyaki Grilled Flat Iron Steak”

  • What a wonderful recipe and post- reminding us how a recipe can heal and connect us in profound ways. Thank you!

  • I’ve been in alaska with a couple of grandsons just home is this fire recent? D you need a place to stay our house is available. Let me know how we can help!

    • Oh thank you Mary Kay! But the fire was many years ago. Your comment made me realize I did not indicate that in my post so I am going back to add it so others don’t think that too.

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