If you live in the northern U.S., welcome to Daylight Savings and short days and long nights. It is now officially quite dark before I get dinner on the table–I am hoping to either get a photo box for Christmas or a flash diffuser. Until then, it is a return to some sadder pictures.
This Thai Grilled Beef Salad is quite similar to the Vietnamese bun dishes I am so fond of. Its biggest differences are less herbs, sticky rice should be served on the side (although you can certainly serve it with jasmine rice if you feel like it), and the salad, in my experience at least, is dressed pretty thoroughly, unlike the Vietnamese bun which is served with nuoc cham on the side. It is also very similar to the famous Laab Gai, the minced chicken salad of Northern Thailand. Basically if you like fish sauce and lime juice, you will enjoy S.E. Asian salads, including this one!
1 skirt steak
2 T good quality fish sauce
2 t sugar
1 T vegetable oil
4 smashed garlic cloves
1 head of romaine or equivalent some other crisp lettuce like Boston Bibb
2 handfuls grape tomatoes
1-2 hothouse cucumbers, peeled and chopped into large chunks
shredded carrot (I forgot)
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced, rinsed and soaked in juice from 1/2 lime (you can skip this treatment if raw onion does not bother your stomach)
Dressing (rough measurements–to taste):
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 T good quality fish sauce
5 T lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 T sugar or to taste
minced chile peppers to taste, Thai bird chilis if you can get them (I skipped bc of kids*)
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
12 mint leaves, chopped
Combine the marinade ingredients in a plastic bag and place in fridge 1-2 hours before cooking.
Heat grill to medium high and sear the skirt steak on each side–you are aiming for medium rare (or to taste) with a nicely browned exterior. Timing will depend on thickness of the steak–keep an eye on it and if one end is much thinner than the other, cut it in half so that you can remove the thinner piece first. Let the steak sit for 10 minutes and then slice thinly across the grain.
Toss the salad ingredients together. Whisk together the dressing ingredients. It should be balanced between sour and salty (and hot if you use the chile peppers). The sweet should only round it out, not make it sweet. It should also be quite strong–it will calm down a bit in the salad. Toss the salad in the dressing–there should be liquid pooling in the bottom of the bowl. Unlike a lot of western salads, this salad is served literally dripping with delicious dressing. Don’t forget you should have rice on the side to mop up the juices with.
Sprinkle the sliced steak over the salad and serve.
*If you skip the chile peppers in the dressing because of sensitive palates but want the dressing spicy for yourself, I recommend dosing your own salad with some sambal oelek. It is a pretty good approximation of the heat and flavor you get from fresh chilis. John and I use it regularly.