My introduction to Thai cuisine took place when I was growing up in the Netherlands. My mouth starts to water just thinking about the first sip I took of Tom Kha Gai soup. It was a full on assualt on my tastebuds – salty, sour and sweet all hit different notes but played together in perfect harmony. Creamy coconut, spicy chili, citrusy lemon grass and green kaffir lime leaves brought the symphony to its climax. I was thoroughly disappointed when my spoon hit the bottom of the empty bowl. My disappoinment was short-lived as they soon brought out an array of dishes – Laab Moo, Green Curry, Massaman Curry and Pad Thai. It was a sensory overload – the smells, colours and flavours were as amazing to me then as they still are today. I get hit with massive cravings for the bright, intensely fresh flavours of Thai food more often than I should admit. Luckily it’s easy to create these flavour combinations at home – otherwise we’d have a hefty take-out bill on our hands!
Though I am an avid supporter of Thai curries, I often reach for my Thai salad recipes when the cravings strike. This steak salad is a regular around these parts. Seared steak gets bathed in a fragrant dressing of fresh lime juice, robust fish sauce, fiery chilis and garlic. Tossed together with crunchy sliced onions, chives and cilantro – this salad is one party in the mouth. I like to serve this with some steamed basmati rice and a simple cucumber-seaweed salad to soothe the spicy bite.
Thai Steak Salad
- 1 lb steak (flank works well)
- 1-2 red chilis
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbs sugar
- 4 tbs fish sauce
- 4 tbs lime juice
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 1 package (about 30g) chives, snipped into 1 inch lengths
- a handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
Sear the steak until browned well on both sides, and cook to medium rare or desired doneness. Allow the steak to rest while you prepare the other ingredients.
In a mortar and pestle, mash together the garlic and chilis to create a paste. Scrape the paste into a large bowl, and add the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. Mix well to dissolve the sugar. Add the thinly sliced onions, chives and cilantro and toss well to combine. Next, slice the steak into thin, even slices and add to the salad. Mix again thoroughly and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes for the flavours to meld.
Japanese Style Cucumber-Seaweed Salad
- 1 english cucumber, washed
- a handful of dried or salted seaweed, washed and reconstituted in cold water (experiment with different seaweeds – wakame, arame etc.)
- 4 tbs seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 4 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- toasted and black sesame seeds
Thinly slice the cucumber using a mandoline or knife into a large bowl. Drain and squeeze the seaweed of all water and add to the bowl. Add the vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil and toss well to combine. Add a liberal sprinkling of both toasted and black sesame seeds and toss again. Allow flavours to meld for at least 15 minutes before serving.