Nuoc Cham Marinated Steak


Nuoc cham is a Vietnamese dipping sauce that we're using here as a marinade for juicy steak. The intense flavor of the fish sauce melds perfectly with the savory juices from the beef. Searing and then finishing the steak in the oven is a fail-safe method to ensure the outside develops a deep brown crust without burning before the steak finishes cooking. Serve with lime wedges and a Napa cabbage slaw.

fish sauce marinated steak
Photo: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs 50 mins


  • ½ cup fish sauce (preferably no sugar added, such as Red Boat)

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated garlic (from 4 medium garlic cloves)

  • 3 Thai chiles, halved

  • 1 ½ pound beef strip steak (about 1 1/2 inches thick)

  • 1 ½ tablespoons canola oil

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Lime wedges, for serving


  1. Whisk together fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, and chiles in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Prick steak all over with a fork, and place in a ziplock plastic freezer bag. Pour nuoc cham over steak in bag. Seal bag, and shake to ensure steak is evenly coated. Chill 4 hours.

  2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove steak from refrigerator, and let come to room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Remove steak from marinade; discard marinade. Pat steak dry with a paper towel; sprinkle both sides with salt. Add steak to skillet; cook, undisturbed, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side.

  3. Transfer skillet to preheated oven, and bake until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of steak registers 125°F (for medium-rare), 12 to 15 minutes, turning halfway through. Transfer steak to a cutting board, and let rest 10 minutes. Cut steak against the grain into thin slices, and serve with lime wedges.

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