Sticky Sweet Grilled Beef Tri-Tip Recipe With Chinese Five Spice, Grilled Pineapple & Cara Cara Oranges by Chef Gigi

Beef Grilling Dinner
2 years ago

Sticky Sweet Grilled Beef Tri-Tip Recipe With Chinese Five Spice, Grilled Pineapple & Cara Cara Oranges

Chinese five spice power is pungent and encompasses all five tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami – and uses five beautiful spices. This dynamic Pacific-East seasoning is a mixture of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns and fennel seeds. It's easy to make at home, but it's OK to purchase it pre-made, too. I usually pair it with additional sweet ingredients because it is so powerful.

Cuisine: Asian/American
Prep Time: 8 hours to marinate 
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes plus 8 hours to marinate
Servings: 4 to 6


  • 2 pounds beef tri-tip, trimmed
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 cups low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 Cara Cara oranges, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 pineapple, sliced in two and oiled for the grill
  • 2-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon sambal oelek (optional)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, stems removed (set a few leaves aside for garnish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ground Chinese five spice (a little goes a long way)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 - 6 green onions, chopped thin on a diagonal, for garnish

Here's how to make it: 

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients except meat, one of the oranges, the green onions and the whole pineapple. Blitz until liquid.
  2. Place the beef tri-tip in a resealable container or ziplock bag and coat well with 1/2 the liquid marinade. Refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours to overnight. Set aside the remaining liquid in a sealed jar until grill time.
  3. Preheat grill. Clean and oil the grill grates. Heat the remaining sauce until thickened, keeping a close eye on it to ensure no burning. The sugars in the recipe will burn fast.
  4. Remove beef from marinade. Be sure to discard any of this remaining marinade. Grill the tri-tip over direct medium heat, occasionally flipping for about 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the weight of the beef and your preferred internal temperature. For the last 10 minutes of grill time, move the tri-tip to indirect heat and begin basting with a portion of the sauce you have on the stove until the tri-tip is entirely glazed, charred and sticky.
  5. Slice the remaining orange and pineapple in half and place cut-side down on the hot oiled grill grates. Cook the fruit for about 3 to 5 minutes or until they become somewhat charred. Remove the oranges and set them aside.
  6. When the beef is ready, remove it from the grill and allow it to rest for about 8 to 10 minutes. Be sure to carve across the grain, drizzle with sauce, sprinkle with cilantro leaves and green onions. Serve with steamed white rice and the grilled fruit.

Note: If you would like the sauce a bit sweeter, add another tablespoon or two of sugar to the remaining sauce and continue to simmer until the sugar has melted. A bit spicier, add a bit more sambal oelek. The mixture should be able to coat the back of a spoon. If not, make a slurry 2:1 cornstarch and liquid. Stir into the sauce. Carefully heat to a quick boil to activate thickening. If you have clumps, strain the sauce through a fine sieve. No big deal! Remove from heat and serve on the side or pour over top of sliced tri-tip. It's that simple!

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Grills $30 & Up
Food Processors $25 & Up
Sambal Oelek $3 & Up
Sesame Oil $3 & Up
Brown Sugar $3 & Up
Honey $3 & Up
White Pepper $4 & Up
Pineapple Juice $3 & Up

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