Thai Beef Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

This is one of the salads that I make most often. I think that it pleases  the majority of taste buds and is simple enough for most people to make for dinner, even during the week after work. It’s a healthy way to get your protein and veggies for the day without too many carbs. As with most Asian salads with a bold taste, I would suggest that you eat this with white or brown rice.

Ingredients for Salad:
2 lbs steak (you can choose which cut you like best. The most common is sirloin, but I’m partial to rib eye)
1-2 Bunches Romaine Lettuce (Cut in 3/4 inch strips. Make sure that the pieces are bite size)
1/2 Red Onion or 1 Shallot (Optional)
1 English Cucumber (peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick pieces; you can also do 1/2 inch cubes)
1 bunch Fresh Cilantro
Fresh Mint to Taste (Chiffonade – thin strips)
(Use the stronger herbs like mint and basil sparingly, but you can put in whatever leafy herbs you like)
1 Tbs of oil

Ingredients for Marinade and Dressing:
1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro (chopped)
2 Fresh Limes (juiced – you can always get 1 extra for adjustments)
Fish Sauce
Granulated White Sugar
Cold Water to taste
1 jalapeno or a few birds eye chilies

Vegetarian Options:
If you are making this for a Pescatarian (vegetarians that eat fish) you are in luck because you can leave out the beef and still have the salad with the delicious traditional dressing. However, if you have someone who is a true vegetarian you can always substitute the fish sauce for rice wine and salt. Just be careful on the proportions you use.

Cookware needed:
Chef’s Knife
Cutting Board
Strainer
1 Large Bowl (for the salad)
1 Medium Bowl (for the marinating of the beef)
1 Small Bowl (for making the marinade and salad dressing)
1 Frying Pan or Grill Pan

Directions:
I would suggest marinating the beef first so that you can prep the salad while the beef is sitting. However, if you only have 1 cutting board I always suggest cutting your veggies first for salads so that there is no cross contamination.

Make the marinade/dressing by adding all of the ingredients listed except the cilantro and jalapenos. Remove the portion of marinade for the beef. Then add the cilantro and jalapenos. The key to getting this dressing right is to getting the best balance of each of the ingredients without any of them being overpowering. Adding cold water is a good trick to make sure that the dressing is not too strong, but do not dilute the dressing too much.

Trim the beef to remove any unwanted fat and sinew. Cut the beef into thin strips less than ¼ of an inch in thickness. You can also leave the steak whole and cut it after the cooking process. In a bowl, add the beef, sliced onions, and enough marinade to cover the beef. Let sit for at least 30 minutes

When you are cutting up the salad, make sure to dice the Romaine lettuce into small enough pieces that someone can eat it in just one bite. No one wants to be eating large chunks of salad that don’t fit into their mouth. Add the fresh cilantro and mint.

Heat up a sauce pan. Once the pan is screaming hot add the oil, and then add the marinated beef with no liquid. Be sure NOT to add the marinating liquid or you will end up with boiled beef. You want to get a nice sear on eat side of the beef (if you have a grill pan this is a great tool to do this). Remove the beef from the heat once you have seared each side of the beef to the desired doneness (traditionally you want the beef to be medium rare with a little pink inside).

If you have the beef as a steak, let it rest for a few minutes before slicing. If you have already sliced the beef before cooking, let cool slightly. Add the beef on top of the lettuce and herbs and drizzle the dressing over the beef and lettuce.

Freezing Hint:
You can’t really freeze this salad. However, you can prep, marinate, and freeze the raw or cooked beef for future use. I prefer not to freeze cooked beef because the texture of reheated beef is not always the greatest but if you are really concerned about saving time then you can do that ahead of time too.

 

 

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