Friday, January 25, 2008

Thai Beef Salad

No, I haven’t been on vacation. Nor did I get lost in the woods for 10 days. I’ve just been busy with work. So busy, in fact, that I haven’t fried, roasted or even chopped a thing since my last post. I kept thinking I was going to make this or that, but by the end of the day, I had just enough energy left to pick up the phone to order out or stick a frozen entrée into the microwave. Luckily, things have settled down again, and I actually have the time and energy to step into my kitchen.

Today we had Thai beef salad. It’s super easy to make. In its simplest form, it’s grilled (or pan-seared) beef that is thinly sliced and tossed with sliced onions, herbs and a lime-chili dressing. Traditionally the herbs are mint and cilantro. Mom likes to add sliced cucumber and sometimes sour cherry tomatoes. Sometimes I add a couple stalks finely sliced lemongrass, finely sliced green onions and/or grated ginger. Sweet red, yellow or orange bell peppers are also a nice addition. Be as creative as you like!

Thai Beef Salad
feeds about 3 adults
  • 1-pound steak (I used blade steak, but use whatever you like)
  • ½ sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch mint, roughly chopped (save a few leaves for garnish)
  • 1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbs lime juice
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • sliced Thai chilies or sambal oelek, to taste
  • romaine lettuce or green cabbage leaves, to serve
For the dressing: Mix the chilies or sambal with the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Taste the dressing and adjust the flavor to taste. Set aside until ready to use.

For the steak: I like to sprinkle the steak with a mixture of kosher salt, sugar and fresh cracked white or black pepper. The formulation is 1 tbs kosher salt + ¾ tsp brown sugar + pepper to taste. You won’t use all of it; save what’s left in an airtight container. Grilled steak tastes best, but that’s not happening when it’s 29°F outside. The second best option is to pan-sear the steak. Don’t cook the steak beyond medium because the lime in the dressing will “cook” the steak a bit further. Once the steak is cooked, set it aside to cool to room temperature before slicing. Be sure to slice against the grain.

In a large bowl, toss the onion, herbs and any other additions of your choice. Add the sliced steak. Just before plating, drizzle the dressing over the salad (start with about ½), toss and taste. Add more dressing to taste. Serve with (or atop) the lettuce or cabbage leaves. I also like to serve it with Thai sticky rice.

1 comment:

Manggy said...

Ah, I didn't know the dressing was made of lime juice-- I always thought it was rice wine vinegar. I love that dressing, especially with more sweet stuff, like maybe tomatoes or mangoes.