Five-Spice Flank Steak

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A dusting of fragrant five-spice (cumin, star anise, cinnamon, pepper and cloves) transforms flank steak into a delicious, inexpensive dinner.

Five-Spice Flank Steak | | A dusting of fragrant five-spice (cumin, star anise, cinnamon, pepper and cloves) transforms flank steak into a delicious, inexpensive dinner.

I figure there are four meat groups; beef, pork, chicken and seafood. Right? Most vegetarians give up all four, but even for those who will eat the occasional shrimp or halibut, the first three are generally always nixed once the jump is made.

So, as I was rubbing my steak with the combination of five-spice, brown sugar and other spices for this meal, it wasn’t a long ponder as to what meat would be the hardest for me to say good-bye to if I left them all behind.

It would be tough to say adios to beef. First off, it’s the ingredient in moussaka, my all time favorite food. No more of that? No way. Though, I have to admit that the soy crumbles could maybe fill in decently. Maybe.

Then there’s this. Steak. Strip, flank, t-bone, rib eye. There’s nothing like them. Vegetarian, me? Nah.

The Process

Under Cooking Light’s ‘Dinner Tonight’ section in the September 2017 issue is a couple of pages on five-spice powder. It begins with chicken breasts (which I’m definitely going to try), and adds three other quick recipes, a dink, a side and the five-spice flank steak.

Truthfully, I’d have had to work really slow to stretch the preparations of this steak to hit the 20-minute mark. Measuring out and mixing the spices for the rub took all of two minutes. Covering my flank steak with it added another 30 seconds. Four minutes on each side brought us to ten minutes 30 seconds. Resting and slicing; five more.

The Verdict

I thought my biggest critic would be Sophie because she’s not a fan of cumin, one of the ingredients found in five-spice. In fact, when she walked in the house while the steak was cooking, she asked if I had made Chinese food (her least favorite). Imagine my pleasure when she took a bite, then promptly added more meat to her plate to go along with the mashed potatoes and corn.

This recipe’s a winner. I feel bad that it received a narrow column and tiny photo in the magazine because it’s flavors are big and bold and it’s delicious. All three of us loved it.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

Not a thing.

The Cost

Flank steak: $21.98
Five-spice powder: $8.39

Total: $30.37

Five-Spice Flank Steak Recipe

Five-Spice Flank Steak
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Reviewed by:
Recipe type: Meat
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
  • 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 1-lb. flank steak
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Combine five-spice powder, brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, and ground red pepper in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture over both sides of flank steak.
  2. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add steak to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.
  3. Remove steak from pan; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Cut steak across the grain into thin slices.


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