Vietnamese-style Skirt Steak with Noodle Salad

Author's note:
The marinade for this juice steak is based on nuoc cham, a classic Vietnamese dipping sauce. It hits all the major taste centers on the tongue — salt and funky/umami from fish sauce, sour from limes, fiery hot from fresh green Chile, and sweet from a touch of brown sugar and tangerine juice. It works just as well as a salad dressing as it does as a marinade, so here I use it for both. After a thirty-minute soak, the marinade brings out the mineral brawny qualities of the meat, imbuing it with flavor. And as a dressing, it beautifully seasons the slippery noodles, crisp radishes, and cucumbers, and peanuts with complex spicy sweetness. Although you do need to plan ahead so the meat can marinate, this dish otherwise comes together quickly and easily, and makes a complete meal with protein, veg, and cab all in the same bowl. Add a bottle of chilled white wine, a cold beer, or some lemonade, and dinner is served.

My note:
Made this for us and a couple of unexpected dinner guests. Surprisingly easy and tasty. The four of us only needed 1 lb steak. The marinade smells strongly of dirty socks and you will be worried that your guests will think your apartment smells like this all the time, but it's all worth it.

1/2 cup fish sauce
Zest and juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp fresh orange/tangerine juice
3 garlic cloves, grated or minced
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 jalapeƱo seeded and minced
1 1/2 - 2 lb skirt steak
8 oz rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced Persian cucumbers
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced radishes
1 cup torn mint leaves (optional)
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts finely chopped (optional)

1. Mix together fish sauce, lime zest and juice, orange juice, garlic, brown sugar, and chile. Marinate the steak in half of this mixture at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

2. Heat a grill or broiler on high.

3. Remove the steak from the marinade, wipe off the excess marinade and grill over direct heat or under the broiler until steak teaches the desired doneness, 2 to 4 minutes per side for rare. Let the steak rest, lightly covered with aluminum foil, for 10 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, toss the noodles, cucumbers, radishes, mint leaves, and peanuts with the reserved marinade. Slice the steak very thin. Divide the noodle mixture among individual plates, and top each portion with slices of speak. Garnish with mint.

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