Fresh Thai Beef Salad

A couple of months ago I had some friends over for dinner.  After my recent Middle Eastern food obsession, I thought I would treat my guests to something different that didn’t include pomegranate or tahini.   So I went with some Asian recipes instead.  We had Vietnamese spring rolls (totally addictive rice paper rolls fried and then wrapped in lettuce leaves with fresh herbs) and the ever popular Japanese gyoza to start, followed by a Thai beef salad for the main.  All delicious, but the biggest favourite on the night was the salad.  So after much pestering from my friends (and equal amounts of promising on my end) here is my Thai Beef Salad recipe.

I am a bit of a fair-weather meat eater (I spent a number of years as a vegetarian) so when I eat meat now, I like it to be the best type of meat available – both in terms of treatment of the animals and health benefits to me.  This can sometimes mean a high price tag.  The great thing about the Thai Beef Salad is that you really only need a small amount of meat as you slice it thinly and it is part of the overall dish rather than a stand-alone item on the plate, so you can afford to buy a cut and type of meat that is more expensive without breaking the bank.  If you can, always buy grass-fed beef – it is so much better for you than grain-fed.

Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad

600g grass-fed fillet or rump steak
olive oil
2 large mangoes (green)*
2 cups peanuts, roasted
2 cups coriander leaves (use the stems in the dressing)
2 cups mint leaves
2 cups Thai basil leaves
2 cups bean shoots, well rinsed
1/2 cup fried shallots

Dressing
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup lime juice
3 tbsp coriander stalks
4 long green chilli, seeds removed
120g palm sugar, chopped
½ cup fish sauce

Season the beef with salt and pepper and rub with a little olive oil.  Heat a frypan or BBQ to high and cook the fillet on both sides until nicely charred on the outside but rare in the middle – about 2-4 minutes each side depending on thickness.  Remove from the pan and leave to rest while you make the salad.

Peel the mango and slice using a mandoline, then slice into thin strips (if you don’t have a mandoline you can use a vegetable peeler and then slice into thin strips).

To make the dressing place the lime juice, garlic, chilli, palm sugar and fish sauce in a blender and blend until smooth.  Check the taste and add a little more palm sugar, or fish sauce to get the balance right (it should be slightly spicy, salty, sweet and fragrant).

Roughly chop the herbs reserving a few leaves.  Slice the beef into thin strips.  Combine the mango, peanuts, roughly chopped herbs, sliced beef and bean shoots in a salad bowl.  Add some dressing until it is well coated.  To serve sprinkle with the fried shallot and reserved herb leaves.

*I am not a huge fan of green mango so I usually buy a regular mango that is just not quite ripe as I like the sweetness that the mango brings to the salad.  If the mango is too ripe you won’t be able to slice it finely and have it hold it’s shape.  The quantities for this dressing makes a huge amount – keep leftover dressing in the fridge in an air-tight container.  If you would prefer to make less dressing then adjust the quantities equally.