Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vietnamese Flank Steak

Our incredible food journey brings us to Southeast Asia for today’s featured recipe. Vietnamese Food is increasingly famous worldwide, with restaurants sprawled over the globe.  Vietnamese cuisine includes dishes varying from simple everyday meals to the most complex dishes designed for Royalty. Reaching a balance between fresh herbs and meats; as well as a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste, Vietnamese food can be considered one of the healthiest yet most divine cuisines worldwide.

Vietnam’s ingredients reflect its geography and climate. Rice (grown in water paddies throughout the country) is the main starch used in everyday meals, and is also made into different kind of cakes and noodles. Besides a number of Buddhist vegetarian dishes, most Vietnamese dishes or meals are a combination of a variety of vegetables, herbs and meats.

Common herbs may include lemon grass, lime or kaffir. Popular meats are pork, beef, chicken, prawn and a variety of fish, as well as lamb, duck, and birds. Fish sauce and soy sauce are used as both flavorings and dipping sauces for nearly every dish. Peanuts are also used widely in Vietnamese cuisine.

The Vietnamese cook their food in a variety of ways: deep fry, stir fry, boil, and steam. Unlike the Chinese, the Vietnamese use a minimal amount of oil while cooking. Vietnamese cooks aim to preserve the freshness and natural taste of food as much as possible. 

Like everything else, Vietnamese food also differs geographically from location to location. North Vietnam’s food uses soy sauce, fish sauce and prawn sauce and has many stir fried dishes.

With harsh weather and less developed agriculture than in the South, the North Vietnamese tend to use less meat, fish and vegetables; and black pepper (instead of chili) to create spice. The taste is strict and less sweet, but more salty than in other regions.

Central Vietnam is distinct in its extreme spices and color of food. Hue’s cuisine, affected by royal cuisine once created for kings and queens, emphasizes quality as well as quantity.

Southern Vietnamese are heavily affected by Cambodia, Thai and Chinese cuisines (due to trade and immigration). Southerners prefer sweet tastes (created by adding sugar or coconut milk) and spicy tastes (created by chili peppers).  

Our featured recipe for today, with its sweetness followed by a hint of heat, probably hails from the Southern region of Vietnam. You’ll enjoy the rich deep flavor of the sauce as it bathes the Steak and Rice to perfection. Although Judy has always been a big proponent, Flank Steak has never been one of my favorite cuts of meat. This dish has made me a believer.

Delicious “Lite” Recipes. From Our Kitchen to Yours. Enjoy the adventure.

Vietnamese Flank Steak with Rice


Vietnamese Flank Steak, with Rice and Squash
2 Tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce

2 ½ Tbsp Lime Juice, Fresh

4 tsp Sugar. We used Brown Sugar in our recipe, just for fun.

½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes, crushed

1 pound Flank Steak, Lean

1 Tbsp Scallions, minced

2 Cups Rice.  We prefer Trader Joe’s Frozen Organic Brown Rice. Microwavable in 3 minutes.


In a small bowl or cup, mix together Soy sauce, Lime juice, Sugar and Red Pepper flakes.

Score one side of the Flank Steak using a sharp knife. Place steak in a shallow bowl or zip lock bag with ½ of the soy mixture. Cover steak, or zip bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 – 8 hours. Turning occasionally. Refrigerate the remaining Soy mixture.

The meat may be cooked under a broiler, on a stove-top grill pan, or backyard grill. We prepared the dish on our stove-top grill pan. Cook the meat for about 4 minutes per side and check for desired doneness.

Remove the steak from the heat and carve across the grain into thin strips, about ¼ inch each. 

Stir the Scallions into the Soy mixture and warm for 10 – 15 seconds in the microwave.

Drizzle over the meat and ½ cup of Rice. We served steamed squash as a side dish, zero points

Yields 4 servings of about 4 slices of Steak and ½ cup Rice each. PointsPlus value per serving, including Rice is 9.  Level of difficulty is Easy. Prep time is 12 minutes. Cooking time is 10 minutes (more or less).

Recipes shown may not be exactly the same as those found on any website. Judy and I "tweak" each recipe we feature, to some degree, incorporating our own unique tastes. PointsPlus values, however, are accurate.  

Weight Watchers and PointsPlus are registered trademarks of Weight Watchers Intl. Inc.  

Photo by Barry Baruh

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