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Thai beef salad - Sat, 18th Oct 2008
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Everyone has a favourite way of making this salad, so I won't pretend that this is original, but it has 'evolved' over time. The dressing is my interpretation of one I had at the seafood counter at David Jones foodhall a few years ago. Not quite the same, but I dig it.

Needs:
For the dressing:
3 tbsps peanut oil 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame oil 1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce (NOT dark or brewed) 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
juice of 1 lime 1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tsp grated palm sugar (to taste) 1 clove garlic, crushed
lemon juice, to taste pepper, to taste
Salad:
Mixed leaves Lebanese cucumber, quarted and diced
Cherry tomatoes, quartered 1/4 of a red onion, very finely sliced
2 sweet red chillies, finely sliced 1 long green chilli, chopped
6 kaffir lime leaves, chopped 1 stem lemongrass, chopped
Coriander, (Vietnamese) mint, Thai basil, as desired ~300gm eye fillet, in two steak-sized pieces

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar, shake well to combine, and adjust according to your taste.

Heat a heavy based pan or skillet until very hot, add a little peanut oil and add the steaks. Season with salt and pepper, and cook very rare: the steak will sit for a while, and have an acidic dressing, so there's no need to overcook it! (Of course, if you like boot-leather, feel free to disregard this warning!). I typically sear it for about 1 minute on each side, for a steak that's about 1 inch thick. This may look undercooked when you take it out (like the picutres here) but will look great later.

In a mixing bowl, pour a little of the dressing over the mixed leaves and toss to coat evenly. Build the salads on the plate: Mixed leaves, cucmber, tomato, onion, sweet chilli, green chilli and herbs. Heat some peanut oil in a pan until medium-hot (the same pan as the beef is fine) and fry the kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass until crispy - typically a couple of minutes. Drain onto some paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Pour some dressing over the salads on the plate: this will keep the beef above the acidic dressing, preventing it from cooking further and getting dry. Then arrange the beef on top, and finish each salad with a handful of the fried kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. Serves 4.


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