Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thai Beef Salad (Yam Neua)

It is probably pretty obvious by now how fond I am of Thai cuisine. If you're not convinced yet here's another family favourite that you'll hopefully like as well.

Warm Thai Beef Salad was one of the dishes that got me hooked to Thai cuisine. My idea of what salad should be was totally turned upside down after trying Yam Neua. Salad, which I thought was supposed to be a cold and an unexciting, not very filling nor satisfying, side dish, is one of the main attractions in the Thai gastronomy and a great one at that!

Typical of Thai dishes, this salad also requires you to put together ingredients with very strong flavours of their own but when combined together contributes a nuance to the final taste that it can be pretty difficult to use substitutes.

Coriander root, for example, is a pretty unconventional ingredient that I think has no other alternative (apart from other parts of the coriander plant). Mint is another. Lemon is just not good enough as a stand-in for lemongrass.

Although a food processor can do a decent job in making the dressing I still suggest you acquire a proper mortar and pestle (if you haven’t got one yet) to do this dish. It is a worthwhile investment as you can use it to make all sorts of pastes to add to your cooking repertoire.

You do not have to stick to the selection of salad vegetables I’ve listed in my recipe. Feel free to add or take off ingredients to suit your taste. Also, the levels of sweetness, spiciness, sourness and saltiness can be adjusted to your liking by adding more or less of the dressing ingredients. The dressing can also be used as a marinade for other meats like lamb, pork, chicken or even fish.

Thai Beef Salad

A couple of steak pieces of your choice


3-4 pieces coriander root
1 lemongrass - white part only chopped finely
6-8 mint leaves
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 birds eye chilies
Juice of 2 limes
2-3 tablespoons of palm sugar or white sugar
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce

Iceberg lettuce
Bean sprouts
Spanish onion
Snow peas
Coriander leaves
Mint leaves

1. Combine all the dry dressing ingredients in a mortar and pestle and pound until it turns to paste.
2. Add the remaining ingredients. Adjust the saltiness, sweetness, sourness and spiciness according to your taste.
3. Using some of the dressing marinate your steak for at least half an hour. Set aside the rest of the dressing.
3. In a large bowl combine all your salad ingredients.
4. Barbequing the meat adds more flavour to the final dish but pan frying can work just as well. Heat up a pan on very high heat. Rub the meat with a bit of oil before frying. You decide then how done you want your meat to be. Let your steak rest for a few minutes before slicing.
5. Place the sliced meat on top of your salad. Pour the remaining dressing over the salad. Enjoy on its own or serve with other barbequed meats.


zerrin said...

This is gorgeous! I loved it. Beef is my husband's favorite and I'll definitely try this. I'm just not sure about fish sauce. This is very unusual to marinate beef with something made of fish. I think I can use some olive oil instead. ??

The Beancounter said...

hello there zerrin! thanks for dropping by... the best substitute for fish sauce is sea salt... but adding olive oild won't hurt...

fish sauce is used like salt in Thailand... so any recipe you find on my site with fish sauce you can absolutely substitute sea salt...

The Beancounter said...

Btw, i've edited the recipe to include coriander leaves and mint leaves in the salad...