Looking for a new steak sauce? Try this amazing umami-packed Asian sauce. It’s a sweet and spicy sauce made from a combination of fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, shallots, garlic, cilantro, and chili peppers. It’s so good on just about everything and so addicting that we simply call it the Asian crack sauce.
Steak with Asian Crack Sauce Recipe
Makes ½ cup (Serves 2)
Asian Crack Sauce (Concentrated Thai-style sweet and spicy sauce)
1-½ tablespoons Viet Huong fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar (loosely packed)
1 or 2 red Thai chili peppers (slice thinly)
1 small shallot (finely diced)
1 large garlic clove (finely dice)
1 tablespoon fresh minced cilantro
New York strip or sirloin steaks (1-½ inch thickness)
Oil or butter
Instructions for Steak with Asian Crack Sauce
Combine all ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
Trim the steak of any excess fat and season liberally with salt and pepper on all sides, making sure sure to rub in the seasonings.
Transfer the steak to a wire rack and roast in the oven at 375°F for 20 minutes. If you are using thinner cuts, you can skip this step.
Pan-fry in oil or butter, 1-2 minutes per side on medium high heat, for a beautiful crust.
Serve steak and sauce on the side.
What is Fish Sauce?
In short, fish sauce is the liquid extracted from salt fermenting small fish, such as anchovies, in large barrels over a period of time. It’s a clear reddish-brown liquid that adds a special sweet, fishy, salty, and funky flavor to so many Southeast Asian dishes.
What Bottled Fish Sauce Should I Buy?
I get asked this all the time. I stick to my lifelong favorite, Viet Huong fish sauce. It’s the pink bottle with three green crabs on the label. If I can’t get my hands on that, I’d grab the Phu Quoc fish sauce, the orange-yellow bottle. Both of these brands are more affordable and they pack more flavor.
Every country in South Asia has its own version of a dipping sauce made from bottled fish sauce.
But the base is always the same: bottled fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic, and chili peppers. Sometimes water is added and sometimes it is left out for a thicker and more concentrated sauce.
In Vietnam, we have nước chấm. It contains only the base of the sauce (fish sauce, water, sugar, garlic, and chilies), making it the tamest of all the other countries’ sauces.
Other Countries (Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia)
As we move west of Vietnam to nearby countries of Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia, the sauce gets bolder in flavor with more added ingredients. One of my favorites is Thailand’s version.
Thai dipping sauce contains the base with added shallots, cilantro, and sometimes toasted rice powder for a smokey flavor. A Thai-style sauce is my go-to for steak when I’m am tired of western steak sauces.
To Make Thai-Style Steak Dipping Sauce
The Thai-style dipping sauce is simple to make. First combine fish sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice in a small bowl. The brown sugar instantly melts into the sauce, liquefying it more.
Finely mince all the aromatics (garlic, shallot, cilantro, and Thai chili peppers) and add them to the fish sauce mixture. Stir to combine and you are ready to serve.
For those who don’t like it spicy, leave out the chili peppers. And you will still get an amazing sauce without the heat.
Fish sauce. There aren’t any real substitutions for fish sauce. It’s the main ingredient. It wouldn’t be the same without and will change the sauce entirely. However, if you are adamant about creating the sauce without fish sauce, try substituting it with soy sauce.
Shallots. If you don’t have shallots, you can use scallions/green onions.
Chilies. The red chilies in the sauce not only provide heat but also give the sauce a beautiful pop of red color. If color is not important and Thai chilies are too hot, try larger peppers as they typically mean less heat. Jalapenos, serrano, anaheim are less spicy than Thai chili peppers. Still too hot? Try removing the seeds first. You can also use dried red pepper flakes.
Sugar. For this particular steak sauce recipe, I’m using brown sugar, but you can use palm sugar or cane sugar.
Limes. Limes are readily available in Southeast Asia, unlike lemons. But you can substitute with lemons without much noticeable difference. Other people like to add an additional sour profile with tamarind powder or paste.
How Long Does the Sauce Lasts?
In the fridge, the sauce will last up to a week. However, I like to finish the sauce within 3 days for the full fresh flavor of the aromatics.
For longer storage, mix only the fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice. Leave the garlic, shallots, and cilantro as a last-minute addition before serving.
What Other Food Can I Use This Sauce On?
In addition to steaks and grilled meats, try this amazing dipping sauce for seafood, fried spring rolls, or egg rolls. You can also drizzle it over eggs for an incredible flavor boost.