Pickle the cucumbers: In a small saucepan, heat the sugar, salt, vinegar and 1/4 cup water over medium-high heat until the sugar and salt dissolve; remove from the heat. Put the cucumber, chile and red onion in a medium bowl and pour the hot brine over them. Let cool, then add the cilantro. Chill.
Make the beef skewers: In a medium bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, mirin, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, sesame seeds and red pepper flakes. Pour half of the mixture into a serving bowl, add the lime juice and reserve as a dipping sauce. Put the beef cubes in a zip-top bag and pour in the remaining marinade. Seal the bag and massage the marinade into the meat. Put in a bowl and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. Preheat a grill to high. Drain the meat, discarding the marinade. Thread the cubes onto skewers (1 to 4 per skewer), separating each cube with a piece of scallion. Grill directly over the coals, turning once, until nicely charred, about 3 minutes per side. Sprinkle with sliced scallions. Serve warm or cold with the reserved marinade for dipping and the pickled cucumber and chiles on the side. Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to keep them from burning on the grill. Photograph by Antonis Achilleos
Recipe courtesy Ted Allen for Food Network Magazine