Recently, while tableside cooking thin slices of garlicky pork, golden chicken and spicy mushrooms at a Korean barbecue restaurant, the conversation turned to grilling steak.

Steak, we agreed, is the quintessential summer indulgence. The perfect cut? Easy. Porterhouse — the best of both worlds — tender filet, beefy strip. To season or not? Always. Serve with steak sauce? Wow. A division among the ranks. Some eschew the idea; others couldn’t imagine the absence.

As if on cue, a waiter arrived with a tray of sliced boneless beef steak heavily coated in a bright red chili sauce. A thrilling aroma rose from our charcoal grill while the steak edges crisped. Sweet, spicy, tangy, utterly delicious; we nearly inhaled the tender bits.

A consensus among the diners. By all means, steak sauce! This one!

Later at home, noodling around in the kitchen with a bevy of condiments ensued. The result: an intensely red, powerful chili sauce that beautifully complements the rich flavor of beef.

The key component: gochujang. This trendy ingredient, made from fermented soybeans, brown rice and red pepper paste, is found in Korean stores and the Asian section of large supermarkets. The Sunchang brand imported from Korea suits my purposes well. Fairly sweet and thick with spicy chili, a container in the refrigerator inspires many a meal.

For a steak sauce, I tame the red chili heat with dark, rich hoisin sauce and bright tangy ketchup. A bit of ginger adds intrigue. I say yes to wine with steak, so I add it to the sauce — I like rice wine here, but try dry vermouth, red or white wine, too. An ounce of brandy makes a potent, but delicious, substitute for the wine.

Turns out, this sauce doubles as a secret weapon for summer grilling, seasonal stir-fries and more. Just go easy, so the sauce doesn’t overwhelm the steak or other food.

Of course, you can select other steaks in addition to porterhouse. I like strip for its meatiness, especially when I can find it sold on the bone. T-bones, like porterhouse, contain the strip and the filet (although the filet is skimpier on a T-bone). Believe it or not, the super-rich mouthfeel of rib-eye pairs well with the red chili. Smear a flank steak or flatiron with this sauce, and leave it in the refrigerator for a day or two; when it’s grilled to medium-rare, you’ll be delighted with the tenderness and flavor. Skirt steak (select the outside skirt when you can), coated with the sauce and grilled, makes the best steak sandwich ever.

While I usually opt to buy the cut of steak that the market puts on sale, I always get USDA grade choice (or prime when the budget allows). If the steak does not clearly display the grade, ask questions. Lean USDA grade select is fine for a weekday stir-fry or sandwich, but for steak dinner, choice proves more meltingly tender because, quite simply, it has more fat marbled throughout. Grass-fed beef doesn’t carry the USDA grade but is deliciously beefy if not quite as tender (or rich) as grain-fed beef. Always look for white, moist fat — gray fat can mean an older animal or improper storage.

Steaks taste great cooked in cast iron over high heat or a couple of inches from the broiler element. In good weather, the grill adds a smoky element that cannot be beat. Also, the combination of high heat and spicy chili cooking indoors can be hard to handle because the capsaicin released in the air tends to make us cough.

Is this the best steak sauce ever? Could be. For doubters, we offer the steakhouse standby condiment: butter. Try it, you’ll like it — especially with leaner steaks or grass-fed beef.

Red Chili Steak Sauce

Makes about 3/4 cup.

Note: Gochujang, mirin and hoisin are all available with Asian foods at most supermarkets. This recipe was also tested using Mama O’s Premium Super Spicy Kimchi Paste, which is available at kimchirules.com. From JeanMarie Brownson.

• 1/4 c. medium-hot Korean gochujang (see Note)

• 1/4 c. rice wine, mirin or dry sherry (see Note)

• 3 tbsp. hoisin sauce (see Note)

• 2 to 4 tbsp. ketchup (to tame the heat)

• 1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

 1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger, or 1/2 tsp. refrigerated ginger paste

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Refrigerate covered for up to several weeks.

Nutrition information per 1 tablespoon:

Calories 34 Fat 0 g Sodium 240 mg

Carbohydrates 6g Saturated fat 0 g Total sugars 4 g

Protein 1 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Red Chili Glazed Porterhouse Steak

Serves 2.

Note: Use other varieties of steak, if preferred. From JeanMarie Brownson.

 1 porterhouse beef steak, 1 1/4 in. thick and 18 to 20 oz. (see Note)

• 1 to 2 tbsp. Red Chili Steak Sauce (see recipe)

• Finely sliced green onions, if desired

Directions

Pat steak dry. Very lightly smear some of the chili sauce over one side of the steak. Let sit at room temperature while the grill heats, or refrigerate, covered, up to several hours. Remove steak from refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling.

Prepare a charcoal grill for direct grilling, or preheat a gas grill to high heat. Put the grill in place, and let it heat thoroughly.

Put the steak on the grill, plain side down, directly over the heat source. Cover the grill; cook without turning, 5 minutes. Flip the steak; cover the grill and cook, 2 minutes. Smear the steak with another light coating of the chili sauce; cook until medium-rare, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove the steak with tongs or a spatula; let rest a few minutes. Cut the filet portion and the strip portion away from the bone. Carve each into thin slices. Serve sprinkled with the sliced onion.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 490 Fat 32 g Sodium 347 mg

Carbohydrates 6 g Saturated fat 12 g Total sugars 4 g

Protein 41 g Cholesterol 111 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Butter and Herb Grilled Steak

Serves 2.

Note: This is a great way to treat grass-fed steak to result in tender meat. Use other varieties of steak, if preferred. From JeanMarie Brownson.

 1 porterhouse beef steak, 1 inch thick and about 16 oz. (see Note)

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1 to 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

 2 tbsp. finely sliced mixed fresh herbs, such as a combination of 2 or more of the following: chives, flat leaf parsley, tarragon, thyme, sage

Directions

Pat steak dry. Sprinkle generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature while the grill heats, or refrigerate, up to several hours. Remove steak from refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling.

Prepare a charcoal grill for direct grilling, or preheat a gas grill to high heat. Put the grill in place, and let it heat thoroughly.

Put the steak on the grill directly over the heat source. Cover the grill; cook without turning, 4 minutes. Flip the steak; cover the grill and cook until medium-rare, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the steak with tongs or a spatula to a serving platter. Top with the butter. Let rest a few minutes. Cut the filet portion and the strip portion away from the bone. Carve each into thin slices. Spoon the buttery juices back over the slices. Serve sprinkled with herbs.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 458 Fat 34 g Sodium 388 mg

Carbohydrates 0 g Saturated fat 14 g Total sugars 0 g

Protein 35 g Cholesterol 114 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Red Chili Glazed Onions and Mushrooms

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: This is a great mixture to serve with grilled steak, grilled eggplant or baked potatoes. Or use the mixture to fill omelets, stir into fried rice or dollop on a steak sandwich. From JeanMarie Brownson.

• 1 or 2 tbsp. vegetable oil for high-heat cooking

• 1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, halved, thinly sliced

• 12 oz. medium white button or cremini mushrooms

• 1/2 to 1 c. thinly sliced fresh shiitake mushroom caps

• 1 garlic clove, crushed

• 2 to 3 tbsp. Red Chili Steak Sauce (see recipe)

• Salt to taste

Directions

Heat a large nonstick skillet or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the oil; when hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms; cook until golden and tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in garlic and chili sauce to taste. Season with salt. Cook and stir 30 seconds; remove from heat. Serve hot.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 55 Fat 2 g Sodium 84 mg

Carbohydrates 7 g Saturated fat 0 g Total sugars 3 g

Protein 3 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Red Chili Glazed Eggplant

Serves 2.

Note: From JeanMarie Brownson.

 1 large eggplant, ends trimmed, sliced into 1/2-in. thick rounds

• Coarse salt

• Vegetable oil

• 2 to 3 tbsp. Red Chili Steak Sauce (see recipe)

• Finely sliced cilantro and green onion

• Sesame seeds, if desired

Directions

Sprinkle eggplant slices generously with salt. Let drain in a colander in the sink while the grill heats.

Prepare a charcoal grill for direct grilling or heat a gas grill to high heat. Put the grill in place and let it heat thoroughly.

Rinse the eggplant slices; pat dry. Spritz or brush eggplant generously with oil on both sides. Set the slices on the grill directly over the heat source. Cover the grill; cook without turning for 4 minutes. Flip the eggplant; smear with a light coating of the chili sauce. Cover the grill; cook for 1 minute. Flip and smear the other side with the sauce. Cook until fork-tender, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove the eggplant with tongs or a spatula. Serve hot or at room temperature sprinkled with the cilantro, onion and sesame.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 151 Fat 7 g Sodium 245 mg

Carbohydrates 19 g Saturated fat 1 g Total sugars 11 g

Protein 3 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 6 g