WARM FLANK STEAK SALAD WITH MINT AND CILANTRO
I’d been eating Thai food for a while before a friend of mine insisted that we order Nua Yang Nam Tok, or Waterfall Beef Salad as a starter. While I’d had American beef salads before – usually romaine lettuces topped with freshly grilled strip steak – I had never come across one in which nearly the entire “salad” was the beef. Having already familiarized myself with the typical (and sometimes boring) Thai staples of Pad Thai and Chicken Satay, this dish caught me by surprise with its intensely refreshing impact on the palate. Its been years now since I first experienced Thai beef salad, and there is seldom an occasion when I do not order this salty, sour, and fiery dish before a Thai feast.
I’ve sampled and cooked many versions of this salad in the past, and I can honestly say that Andy Ricker’s of Pok Pok restaurant in Portland, Oregon is one of the most authentic tasting I’ve ever come across. If you’re ever in the Portland area, do yourself a favor and stop by his restaurant for some of the most amazing Thai BBQ (and Fish Sauce Chicken Wings) you may ever enjoy in the United States.
Warm Marinated Flank Steak Salad
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
When grilling the flank steak, lightly pat the meat dry with a paper towel before throwing it over the fire as it will aid significantly in the charring of the exterior. Also, make sure to cook the steak to rare if you want to serve the salad medium rare, as I do. The secondary process of coating the rested and sliced steak in the warm dressing will continue to cook the meat slightly.
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup minced fresh lemongrass (from 2 stalks)
- One 2 1/2-pound flank steak
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup mint leaves
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1. In a large glass baking dish, mix the soy sauce with the pepper and 2 tablespoons of the lemongrass. Add the flank steak and turn to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Light a grill. Grill the flank steak over moderately high heat, turning once, until charred on the outside but still pink within, about 8 minutes. Transfer the steak to a carving board and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut the steak in half lengthwise. Slice the halves across the grain 1/4 inch thick.
3. In a large wok or nonreactive skillet, combine the lime juice with the fish sauce, crushed red pepper, sugar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemongrass. Cook over moderate heat until hot. Stir in the sliced steak along with 1 tablespoon of the marinade. Add the shallots, mint, cilantro, stirring to coat. Transfer the salad to plates and serve.