Flank Steak Salad is truly one of my all time favourite fast and healthy dinner recipes. This salad has a bright and punchy Thai style dressing and the salad is packed with fresh vegetables and herbs. Done in just 30 minutes, basil, cilantro, ginger and Thai chili make this meal sing. Packed with protein, vitamins and flavor, I am betting you'll love it too.
Quick and easy main course salad
I love healthy meals that are easy. Grilling the flank steak adds extra flavor without the extra dishes. #winning right?!? If you love a dinner salad, I bet you'll love my seafood based Chirashi Sushi Bowl, the veggie and fruit based Medjool Date and Carrot Salad or my cold weather favorite Rocket and Pear Salad with Walnuts.
Fresh herbs-make them or grow them
It is imperative that you seek out fresh herbs for this salad. You can make do with only 1 or 2 kinds of fresh herbs if you can't find all three but herbs are a big part of the fresh and spicy flavor of this salad. Using fresh ginger or galangal also makes a big difference over dried in this recipe.
(If you're interested in growing your own microgreens, basil and cilantro work well and can be an economical way of enjoying fresh herbs through the winter. Check out the article I wrote on growing your own microgreens.)
Flank Steak vs Skirt Steak
I love flank steak for this recipe because it is a lean cut of meat that has a ton of flavour, not to mention loads of iron and B vitamins essential to our health. If you want a good substitute, skirt steak is excellent. Skirt steak comes from the plate area of the belly while flank comes from the part also called the flank, right beside the plate, closer to the tail end. (Hanger steak is another great substitute which also comes from the plate area of the cow.)
Skirt steak has a looser grain than flank but many say that flank is more tender. That won't matter much for this salad, both will be lovely once you cut them across the grain for serving.
Cutting flank or skirt steak across the grain once cooked and rested keeps the beef tender. I've included some pic's in the recipe to show the grain and how to cut larger cuts in half to make handling and slicing easier.
Both types of steak are lean, relatively inexpensive and best cooked no more than medium to keep them juicy and tender. (Overcooking will make these cuts unpleasant unless you commit to stewing them slowly all day long.)
- Flank Steak - Historically an inexpensive cut, it seems the secret is out as the price keeps going up. Flavorful, easy to cook in a pan or the grill and even easier to slice and serve, this is a versatile cut. This cut of beef comes from the lower back quarter, just above and slightly forward of the hind legs. Best cooked medium to medium rare and takes well to marinades.
- Fresh herbs - This salad is made up of a lot of fresh herbs. Dry herbs will not work in this as they make up part a good part of the salad. If you can't get all three herbs fresh, use 1 or 2 and just increase the quantities.
- Ginger - Another integral part of this salad dressing that sets it apart from others. Again fresh is much preferred for authentic flavor.
- Fish Sauce - If you're truly averse or you don't want to buy a bottle just for one recipe, you can leave it out, but...….your salad will not be as good 😉 Fish sauce adds a wonderful, depth of flavor, salinity and umami, that delicious indescribable mouth feel that can't be replicated.
- Chilis - I was never a fan of hot spice until I traveled to Thailand in my early 20's and then I was hooked. This spice adds greatly to the rich tapestry of flavours and wakes up all your senses.
- Flank steak - A lean and flavorful cut is perfect for this salad. Similar cuts such as hanger or skirt steak are good substitutions. Don't use fatty cuts like New York or strip loin.
- Protein - This Thai flavored salad is delicious topped with shrimp, grilled calamari, tofu or chicken instead of beef if you prefer.
- Fish Sauce - If you omit the fish sauce, taste and adjust with a little extra salt or anchovy paste.
-When marinating flank steak, place it on a cutting board and poke it all over with a fork before placing in bowl or bag with marinade. This will help the flavor soak in and really do it's work.
-Once your steak is finished cooking, cover it with foil and let it rest. 10 minutes is the minimum and up to 20 minutes is beneficial. This will help prevent the juices from running out and rendering the meat dry after slicing.
-To slice your steak, identify which way the grain (or strings) are running. It is very important to cut across them. Flank or skirt cut across the grain is wonderful and tender but cut with the grain, it will be extremely tough.
What to serve with this salad
Weeknight meal: If you like a little starch with your meal, toss some cooked rice noodles into the salad or cook some Thai jasmine or brown rice to serve along side.
Frequently asked questions
The best substitutes for flank steak are skirt steak or hanger steak. Next best would be tri-tip and finally you could use sirloin steak as well. Treat them the same as you would the flank steak and keep them between medium-medium rare, rest them for 10 minutes after cooking and then slice thinly across the grain to serve.
While it doesn't "need" to be marinated, it is beneficial. Marinating flank steak will help break down the connective tissues before cooking and add flavor.
You can make the components of the salad ahead (the dressing, marinade and steak) but this should be assembled shortly before serving so the salad and herbs stay crisp. I you want, you can precook the steak ahead, store in the refrigerator and serve as a cold salad when you are ready.
Flank steak salad with Thai salad dressing is one of my all time favorites. I think I could live on all the kinds of Asian food, the spicy, pungent and bright flavours are just so delicious. What do you think?
Have a wonderful meal and a delicious day,
Flank Steak Salad with Thai Dressing
- 1 lb Flank Steak
Thai Salad Dressing And Steak Marinade
- 1 tsp Ginger (or Galangal if you can find it), grated Galangal has a milder ginger flavour and is a traditional ingredient in Thai foods.
- 1 tsp Garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 2 tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce For the Sweet and Spicy
- 3 tbsp Lime Juice and ¼ tsp zest from the lime For the Sour, grate the zest before juicing the lime for greater ease
- 1 tbsp Fish Sauce For the Salty
- 1-2 *Optional* Birds Eye Chilis chopped finely (or Sriracha Sauce to taste) Birds Eye Chilis are a traditional Thai source of spice. If you want to kick up the heat to a more authentic level, add in one or two of these!
Thai Salad Vegetables
- 6 c Mixed Greens Butter lettuce, kale, spinach, mustard greens and other reasonably sturdy greens work well.
- 1 c Cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 c Carrot, ribbons or thin slices
- 1 c Purple Cabbage, shredded
- ½ c Each, Basil, Cilantro and Mint, roughly chopped
- 1 *Optional* Avocado, thinly sliced or cubed
- 1 *Optional* Mango, thinly sliced or cubed
- ½ c Peanuts, crushed
- Lime Wedges to serve
Dressing And Marinade
- Mix together all dressing ingredients.
- Pour 3 tbsp of dressing in a bag or bowl, poke flank steak with a fork all over and place in marinade. Massage flank steak in dressing and leave to marinate while you chop the salad ingredients. If making ahead, you can marinate this steak up to 12 hours.
- Preheat your grill to high, lightly oil grates with a BBQ basting brush and put steak on. Cook approximately 3-4 minutes each side but every grill (and thickness of flank steak) is different so pay attention to your steak, letting it sear on both sides and aim for a doneness of no more than medium to keep it from getting dry.
- Remove steak from grill, cover and let rest 10-20 minutes. Once rested, slice thinly on an angle across the grain. (Flank steak has a very defined grain compared to many other meats so you should be able to see which way the grain or "stringiness" is running. You want to cut the opposite way to make the steak pieces tender.)
- Toss all vegetables and herbs in a large bowl gently. Drizzle with half of the dressing and toss gently.
- Heap salad into bowls topping with slices of steak. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve with lime wedges and hot sauce.
-Once your steak is finished cooking, cover it with foil and let it rest 10-20 minutes.
-To slice your steak, identify which way the grain (or strings) are running. It is very important to cut across them.