Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thai Beef Salad

Now that my winter CSA is over and I've used up nearly all of the produce that came from it, I've been eating salads like crazy. After a few months of eating primarily root vegetables, I'm really craving huge, fresh, crunchy salads. Luckily for me some greens are available at the winter farmer's market, but I have also had to resort to buying greens from other states at the grocery store to satisfy my salad appetite. And while I would happily crunch away on green salads, grilled chicken salads like this or this, or the irresistible combination of dried cranberries, pecans or walnuts, and blue cheese, I wanted to find a new salad to love and inspire me.

The original recipe called for the dressing to be thinned with water; I did not find this at all necessary, although you may, depending on how juicy your limes are. This dressing is a nice balance of tart limes, toasty sesame oil, and heat from the pepper, although the dominant flavor is most assuredly lime, which pairs famously with cilantro. While the savory beef is a great foil to the light, fresh vegetables and dressing, seafood, chicken, or even tofu would also be delicious. Biting into this salad while sitting in the warm afternoon sun was a welcome taste of summer in the cold depths of winter.

Thai Beef Salad
adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman
serves 2

8 oz. skirt or flank steak
6 cups mixed salad greens, torn into bite size pieces
1 cup torn fresh mint, cilantro, or Thai basil, or a combination
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded if you like, and chopped
1 small fresh hot red chile (like Thai) or jalapeno, or to taste, minced (remove seeds to adjust heat)
Juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon nam pla (fish sauce) or soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar

1. Prepare a grill or turn on the broiler; the heat should be medium high and the rack about 4 inches from the fire. Grill or broil the beef, turning one or twice, until medium-rare, 5 to 10 minutes total depending on the thickness; set it aside to cool slightly. (You can prepare the recipe up to this point and refrigerate for up to a day; bring the meat to room temperature before proceeding).

2. Toss the lettuce with the herbs, onion, and cucumber. Combine all of the remaining ingredients and toss half of this mixture with the greens. Remove the greens to a platter, reserving the remaining dressing.

3. Thinly slice the beef, reserving its juice; combine the juice with the remaining dressing. Lay the slices of beef over the salad, drizzle the dressing over all, and serve.

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