Thai Beef Salad
This dish, popular on Thai restaurant menus, is easy to prepare at home. Fish sauce is essential to creating a salad with authentic flavors. The low-fat vinaigrette and lean meat make it a healthful main-course meal.
For the Thai vinaigrette:
- 3 Tbs. Thai fish sauce
- 3 Tbs. fresh lime juice
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1 to 2 tsp. minced fresh hot chilies with seeds
- 1 flank steak, 3/4 to 1 lb.
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tsp. canola oil
- 1 large head butter or other soft-textured leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups loosely packed)
- 1 cup thinly sliced English cucumber
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion (such as Maui, Vidalia or Walla Walla) or red onion
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper strips, 2 inches long by 1/4 inch wide
- 1/2 cup lightly packed torn fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup lightly packed torn fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup lightly packed torn fresh Thai basil leaves (optional)
To make the Thai vinaigrette, in a large bowl, stir together the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chilies until blended. Set aside.
Preheat a broiler, or prepare a hot fire in a grill and oil the grill rack. Sprinkle the flank steak evenly with salt and pepper; rub the seasonings into the meat. Brush lightly on both sides with the canola oil.
By broiler: Place the flank steak on a broiler pan and slip it under the broiler about 2 inches from the heat source. Broil, turning once, until the meat is seared on the outside and cooked rare to medium-rare in the center, about 4 minutes per side.
By grill: Using tongs, place the flank steak over the hottest part of the fire or directly over the heat elements and grill, turning once, until seared on the outside and cooked rare to medium-rare in the center, about 4 minutes per side.
Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes. Cut across the grain and on the diagonal into very thin slices.
Add the slices of meat to the dressing and toss to coat. Add the lettuce, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, mint, cilantro and Thai basil and toss to coat. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).