Grilled Carrots, Steak, and Red Onion with Spicy Fish Sauce

Joshua McFadden

"Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables"

“This dish came to be while I was working on the farm and grilling out one summer night. Somehow a carrot ended up on the grill, and from that point on, every vegetable became fair game for the flame! Be sure you don’t coat your carrots with oil before you grill them; grilled oil just tastes like chemicals to me. Note that you can absolutely leave the steak out of this dish and it will be just as good.” —Joshua McFadden in his 2018 Beard Award–winning Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables.


Spicy Fish Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup seeded, de-ribbed, and minced fresh hot chiles (use a mix of colors)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Grilled Carrots, Steak, and Red Onion:

  • 3/4 pound steak (skirt, tri-tip, rib-eye, or another other cut that’s good grilled)
  • Kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound trimmed and peeled carrots (leave whole if very slender or split lengthwise if larger)
  • 1 large red onion, cut into fat slices
  • 2 cups lightly packed, mixed fresh herbs (such as flat leaf parsley, mint, chives, dill, chervil, basil, even baby arugula)
  • 3 big lime wedges
  • Extra virgin olive oil 


Make the spicy fish sauce: stir everything together in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add 1/4 cup water and stir again. Taste and adjust so you have an intense sweet-salty-sour-hot balance. Ideally, make this a day ahead, then taste and readjust the seasonings on the second day. The chile heat is likely to get stronger. The sauce will keep for a month or two in the fridge.

Season the steak with 1 teaspoon salt and several twists of pepper. Set aside.

Heat a gas grill to medium.

Arrange the carrots and onion slices on the grill and cook, turning frequently, until they are starting to soften and brown a bit (the carrots should be about as soft as a cooked beet, and the onions should be quite tender and juicy), about 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high, blot any moisture off the steak, and add it to the grill. Cook to rare to medium-rare, 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on how thick it is. Don’t overcook it! As you’re cooking the steak, make sure the carrots and onions are not charring too much—a few dark edges will be nice, however.

Take everything off the grill. Let the steak rest as you cut the carrots on an angle into long slices and cut the onion rings in half—it’s okay if they fall apart at this point.

After the steak has rested for at least 5 minutes, cut it across the grain, and at an angle to the cutting board, into thin strips. Pile the steak, onions, and carrots into a large bowl and pour on 1/4 cup of the spicy fish sauce and any steak juices that have accumulated. Toss, taste, and add more sauce if you need for the flavors to be bright and delicious.

Gently toss the fresh herbs in a small bowl with the juice from one lime wedge, a bit of salt and pepper, and a small drizzle of olive oil. Gently fold the fresh herb salad into the steak salad.

Serve with a lime wedge and more sauce on the side.


Excerpted from Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Laura Dart and A.J. Meeker. 


2 servings