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I’ve often talked about how grill marks are sexy, but not ideal. Why? Because the grill mark itself is flavor, happening because of the Maillard reaction. So that means all those sections between the sexy grill marks are missed opportunities for flavor. Suffice it to say, I much prefer an overall char to the grill marks we’ve been so conditioned to think are synonymous with a good steak.
This brings me to spicy Cajun steak bites and one reason I love them so much. By cutting a steak into bite-size cubes, and then searing them, there’s a much greater opportunity for charring and creating flavor. There are plenty more reasons to love this technique as well.
For example, meat selection. While I’m using the tender and well-marbled strip steak from Omaha Steaks, other steaks benefit tremendously from this technique. I’m a huge fan of the bold beef flavor coming from a sirloin steak; it is however, a tougher cut of meat. By cutting it into small bite-size chunks like in this recipe, the mouth feel is preferable.
I’m also a fan of the tenderness of a filet mignon, but this very lean cut of meat lacks the flavor of a more fatty steak like a ribeye. Again, by cutting it into bite sizes the opportunity exists to add flavor through seasoning and added fat from the garlic butter.
Now that you understand the benefits from this technique, feel free to use whatever steak you prefer to make these spicy Cajun steak bites.
Is It Possible To Make Cheap Steaks Taste Great?
Absolutely! Again, I like to use strip steaks for this recipe but you can for sure use less expensive cuts. I’ve done this recipe many times with round steak. Round steak doesn’t pack a ton of flavor by itself, so incorporating this bold spice and added fat from the butter, it does wonders to make a “cheap steak” taste like a million bucks.
I often say anyone can make a wagyu steak taste good; heck, you can eat wagyu raw and it tastes good. But it takes some level of skill to take the cheapest piece of meat from the counter and turn it into a masterpiece. I grew up eating whatever was least expensive and honed my skills over the years working with what I could afford—which was usually whatever was on sale or in the “eat by today” section.
What Does Cajun Seasoning Taste Like?
Cajun seasoning is the perfect marriage of spicy, savory, and earthiness. I use the seasoning on shrimp and chicken, and I love it on grilled corn on the cob. It’s also great on lighter fish like tilapia and branzino. It’s often interchanged with creole seasoning, but there’s a difference between the two.
What’s the Difference Between Cajun Seasoning and Creole Seasoning?
You may have seen my homemade Creole seasoning that I love to use in my low country boil. That said, the two are similar but there is a difference between Cajun and Creole seasoning. Cajun seasoning is very spice forward, bringing the heat via cayenne pepper. Herbs like oregano are used as undertones in Cajun seasoning.
Instead of using herbs as undertones, Creole seasoning brings the herbs front and center. Herbs like oregano, thyme, and even basil are the star of the Creole seasoning show, with much less emphasis placed on the heat.
Tips For Making Spicy Cajun Steak Bites
The Pan: You can use a cast iron skillet or a stainless steel skillet, but I don’t recommend using a non-stick type of skillet. They don’t hold up well to the temperatures required for searing. You also want to use a large skillet for this, so as not to crowd the meat as you cook the steak.
The Oil: Don’t be tempted to use olive oil for this. While flavorful, the smoke point of olive oil is too low. Instead use avocado oil.
The Temp: After searing the steak pieces in the screaming hot pan, allow it to cool somewhat before you add the butter. Because the pan temperature must be very high to sear the steak, the butter will burn almost immediately.
The Seasoning: The quantities I list here will make more than you need for this recipe, but it keeps well in an airtight container. And trust me, you’ll use this often.
Spicy Cajun Steak Bites Recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 7 minutes | Serves: 4
For the seasoning:
2 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp cayenne powder
1 tbsp red pepper flake
1 tbsp fine ground black pepper
1 tbsp white pepper
1 ½ tbsp oregano
2 tsp hot paprika
How To Make Spicy Cajun Steak Bites
Step 1: Slice steak into roughly 3/4″ size pieces.
Step 2: Mix together the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.
Step 3: Place the steak bites into a mixing bowl and toss with one tablespoon of oil until evenly coated. Add two tablespoons of Cajun seasoning and mix until the steak is evenly seasoned. Set aside.
Step 4: Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat until oil is shimmering and just starting to smoke. Add steak bites and turn them often to sear all sides of the meat. Cook for 2-3 minutes total, then place the steak on a plate. Turn heat to low and allow the pan to cool somewhat, about 2 minutes.
TIP: Avocado oil starts to smoke at around 500° F, so seeing it start to smoke lets you know the pan is hot enough to add the meat for a quick sear.
Step 5: Add butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Add garlic to the butter and using a wooden turner, scrape all the crispy bits off the bottom of the pan. Then, add the jalapeños and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Step 6: Add the steak bites back into the butter and garlic, mix around to coat the steak.
Step 7: Plate the steak and pour remaining butter sauce over the steak bites for service.
For the seasoning:
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp cayenne powder
- 1 tbsp red pepper flake
- 1 tbsp fine ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp white pepper
- 1 ½ tbsp oregano
- 2 tsp hot paprika
- Slice steak into roughly 3/4″ size pieces.
- Mix together the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.
- Place the steak bites into a mixing bowl and toss with one tablespoon of oil until evenly coated. Add two tablespoons of Cajun seasoning and mix until the steak is evenly seasoned. Set aside.
- Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat until oil is shimmering and just starting to smoke. Add steak bites and turn them often to sear all sides of the meat. Cook for 2-3 minutes total, then place the steak on a plate. Turn heat to low and allow the pan to cool somewhat, about 2 minutes.
- Add butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Add garlic to the butter and using a wooden turner, scrape all the crispy bits off the bottom of the pan. Then, add the jalapeños and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the steak bites back into the butter and garlic, mix around to coat the steak.
- Plate the steak and pour remaining butter sauce over the steak bites for service.