Vietnamese Steak. Plus, magic tricks chefs use for full flavor.

We love this dish at my home. It's quick. It's gorgeous, and a splendid way to cook up dinner and get on to eating it.

We love this dish at my home. It's quick. It's gorgeous, and a splendid way to cook up dinner and get on to eating it.

If you've ever wondered how chefs make magically balanced dishes, we've got that secret in this amazing marinade.

The marinade might take a few of you out of your comfort zone, but don't let the funny name "fish sauce" thwart you. Fish sauce is used by a billion people every day to create a rounder, mysterious flavor in their dishes that's unbelievably delicious ... although you'd have a hard time figuring out just why. (The answer? Fish sauce is one secret way to give your food umami.) Frankly, you've probably eaten it a thousand times and didn't realize it.

My marinade's other star flavors include lime juice and brown sugar, and they enlist the taste buds with sparkle and a hint of dark sweetness. Taken together, these ingredients hit all the yummy places in your mouth.

After cooking the marinated steak on your Eurocast grill pan, you get to introduce another chef trick: the last-minute add of a couple of tablespoons of butter. It rounds out the aroma, and also give you the pleasure of a teeny bit of fat per portion. I bet you find, like I do, that this marinade and cooking method deliver a round house punch all over your palate. 

To top off the goodness, if you choose the suggested salad, this dish is a one-pan wonder. Easy, powerful, mysterious flavor. It's what we love here.


Vietnamese steak

First, start with a delicious ribeye steak or two (not too many to avoid crowding the grill pan). 

Prep the veggies with a parboil beforehand so they are quick to cook after you take the steaks from the pan for resting. 

Work the steaks to desired doneness, then remove them, along with the pan sauce, and set to rest. Now char the veggies in the still-hot pan. By the time you've got the char on the asparagus and spring onions, it's time to slice those steaks wafer thin. Pour over that pan sauce you reserved ... and it's all done but the eating.


  • 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


  • Add all the above ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold the steaks.
  • Whisk to dissolve the brown sugar.
  • Add the steak and turn in the bowl to coat.  Marinate 2 hours or up to 24 hours. 
  • In a hot EuroCast grill pan (see our deal below), over high heat, add the ribeye and cook, rotating halfway once to achieve gorgeous, hashmarked char marks.
  • When done cooking on the first side, turn the steak over to the other side and add the 3 tablespoons of butter to the grill pan, along with the remaining marinade, and basting the steaks with the melted butter and marinade until steaks are cooked to desired doneness.

Serving suggestion

Serve the steak with a spicy bead thread noodle salad, tossed with grilled veggies such as spring onions, split asparagus, and cherry tomatoes. You can grill those in advance on the grill pan.

Dress the noodles and grilled veggies in a super-simple dressing that includes some of the ingredients you used for the marinade. For example, take a little olive oil, add a dash or two of fish sauce for umami, squeeze or pour in a little fresh lime juice for a fresh acidy blast, and finally add something with bite and body, like a quick chop of a clove of garlic, and maybe a little chili paste for heat.

Paul Ward