Melissa Elsmo

My husband adores steak salads in any form, but he is particularly fond of the ultra-fresh flavor in salads made from Asian ingredients. He loves the combination of fresh herbs, crunchy veggies and grilled steak.

Fish sauce is a key ingredient in this salad and should not be skipped! The fermented sauce is made from salted krill, but don’t let that scare you off. The sweet and salty sauce brings an umami explosion to the bowl. Fish sauce makes Pad Thai taste divine and does the same in this easy salad dressing.

Marinating the steak in soy sauce bucks tradition, but I love the complexity the salty sauce brings to charcoal grilled meats. You can always serve this summery dish with sriracha on the side for the hot-heads in your life.

Vietnamese-Inspired Steak Salad (serves 6)


For the beef:

  • 2 boneless beef sirloin steaks, about 1” thick (about 1 pound each)
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ Tablespoon coarse black pepper

For the dressing:

  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 small red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 serrano chili, finely diced (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ Cup lime juice
  • ¼ Cup fish sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

For the veggies:

  • 1 Cup shredded carrots
  • 1 small English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 very small Savoy cabbage, finely shredded

For assembly:

  • 7 ounces of rice noodles, soaked and drained according to package directions
  • ½ Cup cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup mint leaves
  • ½ Cup peanuts (optional)


Prepare a charcoal grill for direct heat grilling.

While coals cool, marinate the steaks in the soy sauce and black pepper at room temperature.

Meanwhile make the dressing. Whisk together all the ingredients and toss with the shredded carrots, cucumber, onion and cabbage. Allow to sit at room temperature, tossing occasionally until steaks are done.

When coals are ashed over, but still quite hot grill the steaks for 4 minutes per side for medium rare (longer if you prefer a more well-done steak). Transfer the cooked steaks to a plate to rest for at 10-16 minutes.

Toss the noodles, coriander and mint with the dressed vegetables. Divide between bowls. Cut the steak across the grain into strips and place on top of the salad. Garnish with peanuts and any residual dressing from the mixing bowl.

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