The cuisine of Thailand is world-renowned and rightly so. Balanced on the finest edge of salty, sweet, sour and spicy, Thai food is a flavour sensation, enough to awaken the most tired of tastebuds.
While there are all sorts of wild and wonderful meals to be found there, today I’m sharing my recipe for one of the most delicious, an Easy Thai Beef Salad.
What is Thai Beef Salad?
Thai Beef Salad or Yum Nuea is a combination of crispy, fresh vegetables, fragrant herbs, tender beef steak, all smothered with a punchy, spicy dressing. It’s incredibly tasty as well as being nutrient packed, so it’s a big win-win.
The secret to a great Thai Beef Salad
For an AMAZING Thai beef salad, make sure you have loads of fresh herbs and a good quality cut of steak. You’ll be rewarded in every way. The real secret lies in the balance of the dressing. Made from lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and chilli, the dressing is the flavour powerhouse that will make or break your salad.
I’ve travelled to Thailand many times over the years and taken some amazing cooking classes in the capital city, Bangkok.
What I learnt there, is that Thai food needs super fresh ingredients for best results. The wonderful Thai people take food very seriously and incredible meals are available on every street corner. Cheap, fresh, and so, so good.
Balance the flavours
Thai food is all about that balance I talked about above, and only you know what you really like, so taste, taste, taste and adjust as you go. I like mine extra spicy with loads of lime, but you might like to tone it down depending on who is going to be eating
To make my Thai Beef Salad recipe you’ll need the following main ingredients:
- BEEF STEAK: The star ingrtedient! Good quality rump or sirloin is best. Make sure the steak is out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
- CUCUMBERS, CHERRY TOMATOES LETTUCE AND RED ONIONS: The building blocks of your salad. A classic Thai Beef Salad is not so heavy on these salad greens, but I like to add plenty. Healthy and tasty. What’s to lose?
- MINT AND CORIANDER: Fresh herbs give this salad a distinctive and fragrant flavour.
- LIME JUICE, FISH SAUCE, SUGAR AND GARLIC: Combine with FRESH CHILLI to make the tastiest salad dressing.
- BASMATI OR JASMINE RICE: To cool down that chilli heat!
What to serve with Thai Beef Salad
This recipe makes enough for two people to greedily devour (and we do!) but could easily be stretched to feed four with a few sides or starters.
Quick Thai Fish Cakes , San Choy Bow or some Vietnamese Spring Rolls would be great and it’s worth having plenty of rice (instructions here for perfect rice. This salad base is even fantastic for other meats, so if beef isn’t in the budget, try it with chicken, pork or even tofu!
About Fresh Herbs
A recipe like this relies on the beautiful fragrant herbs, so make sure to use plenty. If at all possible, skip the sad plastic packets from your local supermarket and hit up an Asian grocer.
Not only are the herbs guaranteed fresher, they’re likely cheaper and much more flavoursome.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I don’t eat beef, can I make this salad with anything else?
Even though it is called Easy Thai BEEF Salad, this salad is great with chicken, pork, fish or even tofu!
I don’t like food to be too spicy, should I change the recipe?
Taste the chilli before you add it to the dressing to see how hot it is and adjust accordingly. If you discard the seeds of the chilli it won’t be as hot. Make sure you have plenty of cucumber and rice as well as water to drink to cool you down if you find it too spicy!
I can’t eat peanuts, is there an alternative?
There is! You can toast 2 tablespoons of uncooked rice in a dry pan until nutty and light brown. Grind finely in a mortar and pestle and use to replace the peanuts in this recipe.
Can I double, or even triple this recipe?
Go for it! I love this salad so much I could eat it every day. Just be sure to cook the beef in batches so that it browns properly.
Can I Meal Prep Thai Beef Salad?
Yes! Just keep the meat and salad separate and don’t add the extra dressing until you are ready to eat.
Adjust the amount of chilli to your tastes, I like it extra spicy!
Spicy Thai Beef Salad Recipe
Easy Thai Beef Salad
for the dressing:
- 1 medium red chilli, sliced
- small bunch coriander/cilantro, leaves and stems separated
- 2 fat cloves garlic
- 45 ml lime juice
- 30 ml fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp neutral oil, sunflower etc.
- zest of 1 lime, finely grated
for the salad:
- 400 g beef steak, eg. rump or sirloin at room temperature
- 2 tsp sunflower oil for frying
- 1 thin cucumber, finely sliced or peeled into ribbons
- 250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 small red onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 small cos or romaine lettuce, leaves torn
- 3 Tbsp roasted peanuts, finely diced
- small bunch of mint, leaves only
- sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- extra red chilli, sliced
- steamed jasmine or basmati rice
- HEAT THE OVEN: Heat the oven to 120°C / 250°F / Gas 1.
- MAKE THE DRESSING: Prepare the dressing by grinding the chilli, coriander stems and garlic together in a mortar and pestle to a chunky paste. If you don’t have a good, solid mortar and pestle, you can use a small food processor, or cut the ingredients very finely.
- ADJUST SEASONING: Scrape the paste into a small mixing bowl, add the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, oil and lime zest then whisk well to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Set the dressing aside.
- COOK THE STEAKS: Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel, rub with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy-based frying pan until a drop of water sizzles when dropped onto the surface. Add the steaks to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side (see note). Remove from the heat, lay the steaks on an ovenproof dish, cover loosely with tinfoil and place in the preheated oven for 5-10 minutes (see notes for guide).
- PREPARE THE SALAD: While the meat is resting, combine the cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion and lettuce in a large mixing bowl. Toss through two tablespoons of the dressing. When the beef has rested at least 5 minutes, slice thinly against the grain, add to the bowl that has the remaining dressing in it, along with any resting juices and stir well to coat.
- ARRANGE AND SERVE: Pile the salad onto a serving platter or two plates and top with the beef. Sprinkle over the peanuts and scatter over plenty of fresh coriander, mint and extra chilli (if using). Drizzle over all the remaining dressing and serve immediately with steamed rice.
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