Thai salads represent the breadth of flavors that the cuisine has to offer, often abundant in sweetness, sourness and spice. The endless list of vegetable-forward dishes that appear on Thai menus are a testament to their fresh produce, some of which are available in our local markets. This means that it isn’t impossible to attempt some of your favorite Thai dishes at home, and add that distinct punch to your nightly cooking repertoire.
We’ve tackled a relatively simple salad that always seems to have delicious results—you just can’t screw this up. Toss cucumbers, and a fistful of various herbs like mint and cilantro into a bowl of a vinaigrette made with nothing more than five ingredients. The beef of this salad is often cooked rare (its Thai name nuea yang nam tok means waterfall, since the juices from the meat must run like one), but you can cook it to your liking. In 30 minutes or less, you’ll have a Thai staple on your table.
Thai Steak Salad
Active time: 45 mins
Total time: 45 mins
4 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Thai Steak Salad
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup cucumber, cut into ½ inch pieces
½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. mint leaves, picked
¼ cup cilantro leaves, picked
2 bird’s eye chilies, sliced
In a medium bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and sesame oil.
Mix until sugar is dissolved and set aside.
Rub the steak in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill steak over high heat until medium rare, about 4 minutes each side.
Set steak aside and cool completely.
Take the cooled steak and slice very thinly.
In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, mint, cilantro, chili, and steak.
Add dressing, 2 tbsps. at a time, until everything is coated.
Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr.