In What’s for Dinner?, a column appearing every other week on Diner’s Journal, Melissa Clark answers that universal question, offering recipes for simple, relatively quick dishes that use ingredients you can pick up on the way home.
I don’t cook many flank steaks in winter, but once I get into a summer grilling groove, it’s one of the easiest things to throw onto the coals, even on a weeknight. Flank steak cooks up quickly, and as long as you vary the marinade (and a marinade is essential for this economical piece of meat), you can serve it in endless variations, all season long.
In this version, I base the marinade on a classic Vietnamese dipping sauce called nuoc cham. Since it consists mostly of pantry staples – Asian fish sauce, brown sugar and garlic – all you need to pick up on the way home are some fresh limes and jalapeño. Nuoc cham works as a salad dressing, too. Here I drizzle it on crisp cucumbers and radishes, but sliced ripe tomatoes work just as well. You could serve this as it is with the salad on the side, or put everything on top of a bed of rice noodles or rice for a more substantial meal.
As always with flank steak, slice it thinly against the grain. Look for the long muscle fibers and cut perpendicular to them. This will give you the most tender slices.
Leftovers are ideal for steak sandwiches. Or, marinate the whole steak, cut it in half and cook half for dinner and freeze the rest in the marinade. Pull it out in the morning, and it will defrost in time for dinner next time you light your grill – or preheat the broiler. This versatile recipe works either way.
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon packed lime zest
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from about 3 limes)
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
- 1 large jalapeño, seeds and veins removed if desired, minced
- 1 flank steak, about 1 1/2 pounds
- 1 small seedless English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 large bunch of radishes, thinly sliced
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon vegetable, peanut or olive oil (optional)
- Cooked rice noodles or rice, for serving (optional)
- Sesame seeds or crushed roasted peanuts, for serving (optional)
- Fresh mint leaves or cilantro, for serving (optional)
- In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime zest, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic and jalapeño. Pour 1/2 of the mixture over the flank steak and let marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes (or refrigerate for up to 24 hours). Let meat come to room temperature before cooking if necessary.
- Combine the cucumber, radishes and scallions. Pour in just enough of the marinade sauce to coat.
- Light the grill or heat the broiler to high. Pat steak dry with paper towels.
- If grilling, cook until done to taste, about 3 minutes per side for rare. If broiling, heat a 10-inch skillet over high heat for 5 minutes. Add oil to pan and sear the meat for 2 minutes. Flip meat and immediately transfer pan directly to top shelf of oven and broil for 2 to 3 minutes for rare, or longer for more well-done meat. Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes covered in foil.
- Thinly slice steak and serve over cooked rice noodles or rice if desired, and top with the cucumber salad. Garnish with sesame seeds and plenty of herbs if using and serve with remaining marinade as a sauce.
Source: The New York Times