In Palo Alto California, there's a really great meat, fish and poultry market called Schaub's. Way back when, the owner invented a secret marinade and process that he'd apply to a sirloin steak. The result appeared almost black, and developed an amazing crust when properly grilled. Many have tried, but none have succeeded in duplicating it. People are adding activated food-grade charcoal, squid ink, and various marinade processes. You can go deep dive on the Interwebs if you want to learn more.

After trying a couple different attempts by others, I decided to just simplify my ordinary meat marinade to just a couple ingredients, and I really liked the result. This is in no way even close to the unique flavor of an actual Fred's steak, and I have no clue that steak gets its magical crust. But, this is was really good, so I'm just going with it. And, since we've agreed this isn't a Fred's, you can expand your meat choices. I've started using tri-tip, since I can get amazing cuts locally.

Here's what I've got...

  • 2 pounds steak, I often use tri-tip
  • 1 cup neutral oil
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp salt (or 1 Tbsp salt and 1 Tbsp soy)
  • 2 Tbsp ground coffee (optional, but tasty)
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire (or Asian fish) sauce

Put everything in a resealable plastic bag, and toss it in the coldest part of the fridge for 36-48 hours. To cook, I prefer preparing this on the grill, it helps get a bit of a crust. Also, my wife can't drink coffee after noon, or she wakes up at 2am. So, although the coffee adds great flavor, I don't use it if it's going to be eaten for dinner.