Thai Beef Salad
One of my first dates with the man who would eventually become my husband was at The Pink Pepper a Thai food restaurant (at a now defunct location) in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was there in the modern dining room decorated in white with accents of pink and black, that I tasted Thai Beef Salad for the first time. The dish was a revelation - spicy, hot, sour, and sweet in every bite.
I immediately fell head-over-heels in love with Thai cuisine. Over the years, I tried many times to recreate that particular Thai Beef Salad with varying degrees of success until I tinkered with the following recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living, July 2003.
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup black sesame seeds, toasted**
1 bunch cilantro, destemmed, leaves placed in a bowl
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/4 cup Thai basil, chiffonade
2 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths and then sliced into thin strips
cracked black pepper
1 one-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (1 Tablespoon)
1 Tbsp grated lime zest (about 3 limes), and then juice limes for the dressing
1 jalapeño chile, halved and seeds removed, or 2 Thai chilies
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced finely
2 Tbsps granulated sugar
1 Tbsp Thai fish sauce, preferably Thai Kitchen®
1 tsp olive oil
2-3 pounds flank, hangar or flat iron steak
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
2 Tbsps Thai fish sauce, preferably Thai Kitchen®
1 tsp granulated sugar
3 cloves garlic, finely minced or pushed through a press
1/4 cup olive oil or peanut oil
1 small Napa cabbage, halved and thinly slice (about 3 cups)
1 small red cabbage or big ridicchio, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 bag baby spinach leaves
1/4 bag arugula
1 English cucumber, split in half, peeled, and thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, sliced and diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded, sliced and diced
2-3 carrots, peeled and shredded or julienned
1 bunch radishes, cut into thin rounds
3 scallions, both white and green parts, sliced thin into rounds
1. Make marinade: Process ginger, lime zest, jalapeno, garlic cloves and sugar in a food processor to form a coarse paste, about 1 minute. Add one tablespoon each of fish sauce and olive oil; pulse to combine. Slather meat with mixture and marinate in a plastic bag for at least six hours or overnight.
2. Make dressing: In a small bowl, combine lime juice with the fish sauce. Add sugar, and minced cloves of garlic. Slowly add the oil, whisking constantly until emulsified. Allow dressing to rest for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld.
3. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast peanuts, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool, then coarsely chop; set aside.
5. On a gas or charcoal grill, cook steak 6 minutes on the first side. Turn steak and continue cooking 4 minutes more for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board to rest at about 5 minutes.
6. Thinly slice steak on the bias, and fan out slices in middle of platter on top of greens. Sprinkle with peanuts, and scatter scallions across steak. Sprinkle additional parsley and Thai Basil. Servings: 6 as a main course or 12 as part of a buffet.