5 Ingredients or Fewer

Vietnamese Sugar Steak

March 23, 2015
4 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

There is a local institution here in my hometown of Denver called Bastien's. Rebuilt in 1958, the restaurant still sports a mid-century neon sign that proudly boasts its famous sugar steaks. While my family and I used to go for the novelty of their deep-fried burger (stuffed with corned beef, no less), they are better known for their crisp, caramelized steaks. I usually use this marinade on pork, but I decided to try it out on a flavorful flap steak—and it was magnificent. It is great served with some simple rice and broccoli or on a sandwich with cucumber, avocado and a bit of mayo the next day. —savorthis

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Savorthis is a custom furniture designer with a knack for building great recipes.
WHAT: A steak that's better matched with rice than potatoes.
HOW: Make a marinade out of fish sauce, brown sugar, lime, and garlic, try to be patient while your skirt steak soaks it up, then grill up a storm—just don't forget to serve the marinade on the side.
WHY WE LOVE IT: After wading through endless steak marinades (vinegar, nothin' but s&p, soy sauce), this one caught our eye. With only five ingredients, it's easy to follow, quick to prepare, and makes a darn good steak. —The Editors

  • Prep time 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound skirt or flap steak
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. In a large bowl, mix the fish sauce, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, and garlic. Place the steak in the bowl to marinate and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours.
  2. Remove the steak from the refrigerator and allow it to return to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Reserving the marinade, remove the steak from the bowl.
  3. Over a grill or in a cast-iron skillet over high heat, grill the steak for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until medium-rare.
  4. Allow the steak rest for 10 minutes, then slice it thinly across the grain. Add the remaining tablespoon of lime juice to the marinade and pour it into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Once it's warm, swirl in the butter for extra deliciousness, if desired. Serve steak with sauce at the side.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Maria Lyles
    Maria Lyles
  • Ellen S
    Ellen S
  • Susan Martin
    Susan Martin
  • boulangere
  • savorthis
Co-Owner/Designer @ Where Wood Meets Steel-Custom Furniture

9 Reviews

Maria L. March 20, 2020
Sounds great gotta try it👍👍
Ellen S. June 1, 2019
This is wonderful! I used a small angus flank steak and the results were superb. I do recommend an outdoor grill if possible. I used an indoor grill pan, on high heat as recommended, and it produced copious amounts of smoke--more than my exhaust fan could handle, and more than a person should breathe. Totally worth it, though. Would make it again in a heartbeat!
HeatherAnn January 18, 2019
So good! I was out of fish sauce so I subbed 3T Worcestershire sauce and 1T Sambal. It was tangy, spicy and had a great sear. Yum!
Donna J. January 9, 2019
This tasted great! I may double the marinade next time just to have more juice to work with for finishing. My skirt steak was rather thick so it took a bit longer to cook in my cast iron skillet, so I may pound it some first before grilling this way the next time I make this recipe. Yes, I will definitely make this again!
Jacob December 18, 2017
it's interesting. I've been looking at flank steaks over at www.beststeakreviews.com and always assumed it was a poor cut, but now I'm loving the idea of this recipe. 10/10!
Andie August 17, 2015
Wow this was so delicious! It was easy and made my skirt steak taste incredible! Thanks for the recipe it's a keeper for sure!
Susan M. April 23, 2015
Made this last night. The fish sauce way overpowered the other flavors and left a foul flavor in my mouth. May use less fish sauce and more brown sugar next time.
boulangere March 23, 2015
Very nice flavors. It reminds me of a variation on Amanda's Sugar Steak with Bourbon: https://food52.com/recipes/10252-sugar-steak-with-bourbon
Author Comment
savorthis March 30, 2015
Thank you Cynthia. I've always used this combo on pork so steak was a really nice twist.