The Salad Series: Spicy Seared Flank Steak with Watercress, Vegetables, and a Tangy Sesame Vinaigrette

The Salad Series: Spicy Seared Flank Steak with Watercress, Vegetables, and a Tangy Sesame Vinaigrette

WHEW! I haven't had as much time to post due to traveling and just general life craziness, but I've still been keeping up with the daily salad routine, even while traveling which is actually harder than it sounds! Tonight, I decided to revisit my steak salad and create something tangy and spicy.

I definitely recommend looking for some high quality fish sauce if you can. I have a range of cheap to high-end fish sauce and there's SUCH a huge difference in the quality. It seems like lower-quality fish sauce lands in the really fishy, pungent territory whereas the higher-end fish sauce lands in an almost sweet, mellow flavor. 


Serves: 4

Cost: $$$

Skill Level: Easy

Time to Make: 1 hour 30 minutes (60 minutes inactive)



1½ pounds flank steak (or skirt or hanger)

2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying


2 teaspoons Chinese hot mustard powder

2 tablespoons ground black pepper

2 teaspoons flaky sea salt

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon cayenne powder

1½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

3 teaspoons good quality fish sauce

4 tablespoons very hot water


1 lime

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

Salt, to taste

1 Fresno chili (or 1 Thai chili)


4 cups mixed greens (mesclun greens, watercress, arugula, or baby spinach)

1 avocado 

1/2 lime, divided

1/2 hothouse cucumber

4 radishes

A few sprigs of fresh Thai basil (or mint leaves)


Marinate the Steak: In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt if desired. Note: the fish sauce will make it quite salty. Pat the steak dry and place it in a shallow bowl. Pour the marinade over the steak and turn the steak in the bowl to coat with the marinade. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Prepare the Vinaigrette: While the steak is marinating, prepare the vinaigrette. Thinly slice the chili (discarding the seeds, if desired) and juice the lime. In a bowl, combine the olive oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, lime juice, and brown sugar. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the sliced chili and season to taste with salt. Chill until ready to serve.

Prepare Ingredients: After the steak has finished marinating, prep the rest of your ingredients. Thinly slice the cucumber and radishes. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and thinly slice lengthwise, discarding the pit and the peel. Sprinkle juice from half the lime over the avocado and chill. Pick the leaves from the Thai basil or mint and set aside.

Cook the Steak: In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat until just about smoking. Using tongs, shake any excess marinade from the steak and gently transfer the entire steak to the skillet. Cook, without moving for 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 4-5 minutes, depending on how thick your steak is. For medium rare, cook to 130ºF. Remove the steak from the skillet and rest for 10 minutes before slicing thinly against the grain. Note: Cut the slices in half if your slices are very wide.

Prepare the Salad: While the steak is resting, finish the salad. Toss the salad greens, sliced cucumbers and radishes, and the basil leaves (tearing the leaves in half before adding). Cut the other half of the lime in half.

To Serve: Transfer the greens between plates and arrange the sliced steak on top. Serve with the sliced avocado. Enjoy!

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Designer and photographer living in NYC. I work as a design manager in ed tech and I make tasty recipes in my spare time!