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Rice Noodle Salad with Grilled Steak

In this rendition of the perennially popular Vietnamese grilled steak salad, flank steak is marinated in a slurry of red curry paste, sesame oil and garlic. Then the meat is grilled, thinly sliced and placed on a bed of delicate butter lettuce, rice noodles and herbs. A refreshing coconut dressing is drizzled on top.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. red curry paste
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs. grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/4 lb. flank steak
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1/2 lb. dried flat rice noodles, about 1/2 inch wide

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 2 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 red chili, seeded and sliced

For the salad:

  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 1/2 red chili, seeded and minced
  • 2 Tbs. sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Directions:

In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, curry paste, garlic, sesame oil and grapeseed oil. Place the steak in a shallow glass or ceramic dish and rub on both sides with the curry mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Prepare a hot fire in a grill or preheat a broiler.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over high heat, bring 4 quarts water to a rapid boil. Add the salt and noodles, stir well and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the noodles, rinse under cold running water and drain again thoroughly. Set aside.

Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Place the steak on the grill rack directly over the heat, or place on a broiler pan and slip in the broiler. Cook until well seared and dark brown on the first side, about 5 minutes. Turn the steak over and cook on the other side until well seared, dark brown and done to your liking, 2 to 5 minutes more for medium-rare, depending on the thickness of the steak. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the steak against the grain on the diagonal.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the coconut water, vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool. Whisk in the fish sauce, lime juice and sliced chili. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the noodles with half of the dressing. Separate the head of lettuce into leaves. To assemble the salad, arrange the lettuce leaves, cucumber, and half of the cilantro and basil on a platter or individual plates. Top with the noodles and steak slices. Serve the remaining dressing on the side or pour it over the meat. Scatter the remaining cilantro and basil leaves, the minced chili and the sesame seeds on top. Serve at room temperature. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Pasta Book, by Julia della Croce (Weldon Owen, 2010).