Universal Marinade

Photo by Alex Lau, Prop Styling by Kalen Kaminski, Food Styling by Rebecca Jurkevich

Finely grating the aromatics in this Vietnamese-leaning marinade unlocks their flavor without endless chopping.

4 servings


    • Vegetable oil (for the grill)
    • 2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, tough outer layers removed
    • 1 serrano chile
    • 3 garlic cloves
    • 1 (1") piece ginger, peeled
    • 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
    • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
    • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
    • 1 1/4 lb. boneless short ribs, skinless boneless chicken thighs, 1"-thick pork chops, or other cuts of steak
    • Kosher salt
    • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems
    • Sesame seeds and lime wedges (for serving)


    1. Prepare a grill for high indirect heat (for a gas grill, leave one or two burners off; for a charcoal grill, bank coals on one side); oil grate. Using a Microplane, finely grate lemongrass, chile (seeds and all!), garlic, and ginger into a medium bowl. (Alternatively, you can chop very finely, then mash to a paste using the side of your knife.) Add brown sugar, oil, fish sauce, and soy sauce and mix well.
    2. Season meat with salt and add to bowl. Turn as needed to coat completely. Let sit at least 10 minutes and up to 2 hours. (If marinating longer, wait to fire up the grill.)
    3. Grill meat over hottest part of grill, moving to cooler zone as needed if browning too fast, until well browned, about 5 minutes per side (depending on protein). Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
    4. Transfer meat to a platter and top with scallions and cilantro and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

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