Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thai-ish Beef Salad

There is something about this dinner that screams Summer to me. Yes, it's grilled and that's a warm-weather activity. It's also on the lighter side, focusing mostly on fresh flavors, and that's Summery too. More than anything I think it's the combination of herbs - cilantro, basil, parsley minced fine and tossed with the greens - that conjures a tropical/not-Seattle setting. We've come to associate these flavors with an improvement in the weather. It would be sort of sacrilegious to call this Thai Beef Salad because it only hints at what a real Thai Salad should be. Try adding a dash of fish sauce to make it more authentic. The recipe makes enough dressing for the marinade and the salad itself and feeds about four people. It's also great as a dipping sauce for potstickers.

For the dressing & marinade:
2 T soy sauce (low-sodium)
1 t sesame oil
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil (or other non-olive oil)
juice of 2 limes
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t five spice
1/2 t mustard powder
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t black pepper
Sri Racha to taste (or other hot sauce)
  • Start by putting everything except the oil in a deep measuring cup or Cuisinart. I use the dried spices on purpose because I like the consistency, but you can substitute a little more fresh ginger and a little less mustard from a jar, no problem.
  • Add the oil and blend it all to death. There's more acid than oil in this dressing so I think it would be impossible to blend it too much.
  • Set aside about a 1/2 cup for the final salad and use the rest for the marinade. Or, if you're skipping the meat, the extra will keep in the fridge for at least a week (maybe two - just taste it, nothing in this will hurt you if it has gone bad).
Grilling Instructions:
the rest of the marinade from above
1 flank steak (about 1 and 1/2 pounds)
  • Put the meat in a large ziplock bag with the marinade for about an hour. Squidge around the marinade about halfway through to be sure the meat is well coated.
  • When you're ready to eat, prepare the grill (gas or charcoal).
  • Let the marinade drip off the meat before you put it on the clean & oiled grill.
  • Grill the meat for about 7 to 10 minutes per side.
  • When it's done to your preference (medium-rare please) set it aside to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing thin.
For the Salad itself:
1 head of Romaine
1 red pepper
1 cucumber
2 carrots (or about a handful of those fake baby carrots)
1/2 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup basil (Thai if you can find it), minced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
just a bit of Italian parsley, minced

  • To assemble the salad just prep the Romaine and veggies however you like them (I sometimes get all crazy with julienne-ing, but that's optional).
  • Toss the greens, herbs, and dressing in a large bowl.
  • You can either sprinkle the toppings on each salad or set them all on the table in colorful bowls for people to serve themselves (it makes a pretty table setting).
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