Recently, I was craving Thai food. Not being so lucky here as I was in DC (where two of the best Thai restaurants in the city were within mere blocks of me), I made the 3-mile trek to what is supposedly one of the best Thai restaurant in Buenos Aires. I was unfortunately disappointed with the food I was served – laab gai with more onions than chicken and a red curry that simply tasted sweet rather than complex and spicy. Still yearning for some good Thai food, I turned to my own kitchen and cooked up this Thai steak salad. Surprisingly simple to make, the real key to this salad is the dressing, packed with flavor from fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, chiles, and sugar. The salad itself is extra colorful and flavorful from a mixture of different vegetables, including raw cabbage, one of my salad favorites (I used red cabbage, but any variety should work just fine). Fresh herbs, sliced scallions, and peanuts add even more variety of texture and flavor. And strips of medium-rare steak on top, of course, pull the whole thing together.
- 1 1/2 lbs rib eye steak, room temperature*
- vegetable oil
- kosher salt
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 – 3 bird’s eye chiles, thinly sliced**
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 small head lettuce, torn into pieces
- 1/4 cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, torn into pieces
- scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
- unsalted peanuts, halved or crushed
*2 lbs, if bone-in.
**Omit or use less spicy peppers (like jalapenos), to adjust the spice level to your liking.
- Heat a pan (ideally cast iron) over high heat, or heat up a grill. Rub 1 1/2 lbs rib eye steak, room temperature with vegetable oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Cook the steak until medium-rare, about 2 – 4 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the steak), then remove to a plate, cover with foil, and let rest for at least 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/4 cup fish sauce, 1/2 Tbsp sugar, 2 – 3 bird’s eye chiles, thinly sliced, and 2 – 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced for the salad dressing, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine 1 small head lettuce, torn into pieces, 1/4 cabbage, thinly sliced, 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved, 1 cucumber, thinly sliced, 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces, and 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, torn into pieces.
- Slice the steak thinly against the grain. Add 1 Tbsp of the steak juices to the dressing, and whisk together.
- Pour half the dressing over the lettuce mixture, and toss together. Taste, and add more dressing, as needed.
- Serve the salad, topped with slices of steak, scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced, and unsalted peanuts, halved or crushed. Drizzle with extra dressing, if desired.