Smoky Sweet Thai Grilled Flank Steak Salad

Smoky Sweet Thai Grilled Flank Steak Salad from Katie Workman /

Sometimes my family is forthcoming with their opinions about what I cook.  This is usually rewarding – but not always.  Recently I made something and Jack said, “Wow, you’ve managed to put almost all of the foods I don’t like in one dish.”  Kids say the darndest things. 

Sometimes they are not forthcoming, and I have to ask – “Hey, what do you think?”.  Usually I know in my heart of hearts by the time I ask – they are either shoveling the food down at a furious clip (I live with hungry boy-men) or not.  This was a dish I really didn’t have to ask about….slice after slice was being inhaled, but because I am a needy food writer, I said, “So, you guys like this, huh?”  “I would have paid $29.95 for that steak,” said Gary.  When they say that you can’t put a price on love, I guess that’s only partly true.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe I read by Kenji, and believe you me, the man knows how to marinate a steak.  Kenji, we haven’t yet met, but apparently we owe you $29.95.

Smoky Sweet Thai Grilled Flank Steak Salad


For the Steak

  • 1/3 cup smoked brown sugar (see Note)
  • ¼ cup cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 pounds flank steak

For the Salad

  • 2 hearts of romaine, cut crosswise into thin slices
  • ½ seedless cucumber, sliced lengthwise and cut into thin half moon slices
  • 1 red pepper, cut into thin 2-inch slices
  • 3 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts, thinly sliced

For the Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Combine the brown sugar, oil, fish sauce, lime juice, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large container or study zipper top bag. Remove two tablespoons of the marinade and set aside in a small bowl. Add the meat to the rest of the marinade, turn to coat well, and marinate in the fridge for 1 to 6 hours.

2. When you are ready to grill the meat, preheat the grill to medium high. While the grill is heating, make the salad: in a large shallow serving bowl, toss together the lettuce, cucumber, red pepper and scallions. Make the dressing: in a small container combine the rice vinegar, oil and salt and pepper. Shake to combine.

3. When the grill is hot, grill the steaks for about 4 minutes per side, watching carefully to see that the steaks aren’t burning due to the sugar in the marinade. After the outsides are nicely browned you may need to move the steak to a cooler part of the grill, or lower the heat on a gas grill, so that the inside cooks before the outside chars. 125°F is the internal temperature for medium rare, 135°F is the temperature for medium. Let the steaks sit on a cutting board for 5 minutes to re-absorb their juices and finish cooking before slicing across the grain.

4. Toss the salad with the dressing, and then lay the slices of steak across the salad and drizzle with the reserved marinade, either in the serving bowl, or you can let everyone serve themselves salad and add the meat to their own plates, giving the meat on their own plates a teaspoon of marinade.

Smoky Sweet Thai Grilled Flank Steak Salad from Katie Workman /


You do not have to use smoked brown sugar at all, you can use regular – I had some smoked brown sugar that I had been waiting to experiment with, a present from my sister, who loves to find quixotic ingredients for me to play with. Next up, black truffle honey.

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