Thai Beef Salad
Thai beef salad is, in many ways, a perfect appetizer. It has thin slices of grilled beef resting on a bed of tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs, all rounded out with a spicy, tangy, salty, sweet, and explosively flavorful dressing. Padded out with a bit of additional lettuce, this amazing starter easily becomes a meal all on its own.
Below you will find my recipe, which is excellent, but this salad is also adaptable to personal preference and whatever vegetables are available at the time. I love it with just tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, herbs, and chilies, but you can also add lettuce, red onion, radishes, or really anything else you have on hand. The one area you shouldn’t play around too much is the dressing. You can fine tune it to your tastes, sure, but it needs all of those elements in there to find the perfect balance of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy.
The beef is another area where personal preference comes into play. Because it will be sliced thinly at the end, this can be a good application for tougher cuts of meat. If you want it to be easy, use something wonderful like a ribeye, but if you are willing to take on a bit more of a challenge, a flank steak or skirt steak can also be wonderful. Just be sure not to overcook the beef, and, when you slice it at the end, cut against the grain to create thin, tender pieces.
Some recipes include ground toasted rice powder to add a bit of crunch and smokiness, but I find this to be unnecessary. A few crushed peanuts is another easy way to add a bit of crunch and a nice garnish, if you desire.
Yum Nua – Thai Beef Salad
1 lb. ribeye, flat-iron, or skirt steak
1 lb. cherry tomatoes (~3 cups)
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped (~3 cups)
½ cup green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup mint, finely chopped
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
½ serrano, finely chopped (optional–can be quite spicy)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lemongrass paste
1 tbsp sugar
¼ cup shallot, minced
Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and allow the flavors to meld for at least 30 minutes.
Chop and mix together all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour over the dressing and mix to coat all the vegetables. Set this aside and grill your beef on a fire, grill pan, or cast iron.
Season the steak with salt and pepper and grill for a few minutes on each side to achieve a nice sear and a rare cook. Rest the meat and slice it into ¼ inch slices.
To plate, lay a few slices of beef over a generous couple scoops of salad.