Thai Beef Salad

It’s that time of year again when I start to crave light, zingy and largely raw foods. Thai and Vietnamese salads fit the bill perfectly. I’ve blogged previously on this topic, having posted a recipe for a spicy pork salad. This beef salad I made last night is different in a few respects – namely, it’s less a traditional Isaan-style dish and more of my own concoction. I’ve used lemongrass when cooking the beef, which is probably more a Vietnamese thing than Thai, and have used crushed peanuts to give texture and flavour, rather than roasted jasmine rice.

Thai Beef Salad (serves 2)

Salad:

1 large carrot, julienned

1/3 telegraph cucumber, sliced into ribbons

Handful French beans (or snake beans if you can get them) sliced into finger lengths

1/2 red onion, sliced very thinly

2 tomatoes, cut into wedges

Couple handfuls mixed lettuce leaves (torn) or mesclun

1/4 cup mint leaves, finely sliced to avoid bruising

1/4 cup coriander leaves, chopped

1/2 cup toasted crushed peanuts

Beef:

1 Tbsp peanut oil

1 stalk lemongrass, very finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

300g schnitzel (or steak) sliced into thin strips

2 tsp Soy sauce

Dressing:

1 Tbsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp Thai chilli paste (dry)

1 Tbsp lemon juice

Combine all salad ingredients in a large serving bowl. Heat peanut oil in a heavy frying pan and let lemongrass and garlic sizzle before adding beef and soy sauce. Cook on fairly high heat for few minutes until beef is caramelising on the edges but still semi-rare in the middle. Take off heat and let stand for 5 minutes or more. Make dressing by combining all ingredients and stirring to dissolve sugar somewhat. Taste and adjust to make more sour, salty or spicy if needed. Add beef and juices to salad then dress and stir to combine. Serve with steamed or sticky jasmine rice.

Note: There are countless types of Thai chilli paste. Here I’m referring to the dry kind – not a paste used to make curries. These dry chilli pastes usually contain shrimp or other fermented seafood, which adds an umami hit.

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