Spicy Thai Steak Salad

September  4, 2013
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

If you love Thai food as much as I do, you know it packs a punch of flavor. This salad won't disappoint: seared steak gets bathed in a fragrant dressing of fresh lime juice, robust fish sauce, fiery chilies, and garlic. It is then tossed together with crunchy sliced onions, chives, and cilantro -- get ready for a party in your mouth. I like to serve this with some steamed basmati rice to soak up all the delicious vinaigrette. —Merav

Test Kitchen Notes

Everyone loves Thai food, right? But it's so hard to reproduce those authentic flavors in your home kitchen. This recipe delivers that delicious flavor with a few simple (and easy to find in the grocery store) ingredients. The spiciness was spot on; hot enough without singeing your taste buds. Although I could have done with a lower onion-to-beef ratio, the combination of the herbs and onions with the lime and fish flavors was just fantastic. Served on steamed rice, it was great. Served as a filler for lettuce wraps, it was mind-blowing. Possibly the best part: It seemed to get even better when I ate the leftovers the next day. —LoganEatsFood

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound steak (flank, top sirloin)
  • 1 to 2 fresh red chilies (bird's eye preferred)
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 packet chives, sliced into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped
  1. In a pan or on the grill, sear the unseasoned steak until browned well on both sides, and cook to medium rare or desired temperature. Allow the steak to rest while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. In a mortar and pestle, mash together the garlic and chilies 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 across the grain, and add to the salad. Mix again thoroughly and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. Serve with freshly steamed rice.
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  • LaCeleste
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  • Melanie
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25 Reviews

Linda D. July 26, 2023
Made this again last night, still terrific! This time I used a 2lb flank steak, so good!
Linda D. February 17, 2021
This beef salad is better than the one the local Thai restaurant serves. I too cut the two onions back to one half onion sliced. My market did not have red chiles. Serano and jalapeno peppers did the job. Thank you very much!
Twhitbeck March 3, 2020
This was way too salty. Next time what I would do:
Interpret 2 small onions as 3/4 cup finely cut onion
1. Use 1 tbsp fish sauce and 3 tbsp water
2. Use parsley instead of cilantro
3. Sprinkle finished plate with cut up cashews and parsley snips
To serve he people in your family who don’t like adventures with beef:
Keep some sliced beef out of the marinade, caramelize some onion on low heat while the marinade is going and the rice is cooking. Serve a side meal of that steak nature and caramelized onions over rice for the people who prefer that.
The more adventurous people will love your spicy Thai steak salad.

I give this recipe 3 out of 5 stars... with my modifications I think it would become a 4 out of 5 star
Danielle May 9, 2020
The cilantro is a big part of what makes this "Thai" steak salad. Fine if you want to leave it out, but why bother even doing a Thai recipe if you are leaving out most of the fish sauce and cilantro and instead adding parsley and cashews? That essentially makes it no longer a Thai dish.
Twhitbeck May 9, 2020
Hi Danielle,
Parsley instead of cilantro for my people for whom cilantro tastes soapy, which is a thing.
What would you do to cut down on the salt?
ctgal January 16, 2020
I forgot all about Thai steak salad recipes! This one sounds good and easy. I believe you can marinate the steak in the dressing for awhile to add to the flavor of the dish. Making this asap! Thanks!
Flora October 22, 2019
Winner recipe. I made it yesterday night and it came out super tasty. I didn't have limes so I used lemons. SO GOOD! I used a Thai fish sauce I found at Whole Foods - it was the cheaper one
rider5 October 20, 2019
Would love to try, but as always...what brand of fish sauce do you recommend that doesn't make my house smell awful?
Lilly N. October 27, 2019
My favorite fish sauce is the brand Red Boat. It has the most umami flavors and has a depth that other cheaper brands don’t have. Fish sauce tends to be smelly. It’s just the nature of the ingredient. My recommendation to keep it from stinking up the house is to always mix it in the dish off heat. This was what we did growing up — we ate a lot of fish sauce flavored dishes. So if the recipe calls for fish sauce be cautious with how much you add and maybe add it in at the very end, off heat. Hope this helps!
LaCeleste October 9, 2019
This recipe is so gorgeously satisfying in the flavor department, and so easy to make.

One fantastic addition: toast a handful of jasmine/basmati rice in a dry frying pan til it takes on a little color, then put it in a coffee grinder (or mortar) and grind it until it's a coarse powder, then add it to the marinade. Adds a chewy, toothsome crunch :-)
krikri December 16, 2017
Yep, this was easy. As well as halving it, I made a few other changes: pork not beef; lemon not lime; parsley not cilantro. Other than that, identical haha. Anyway it WAS easy, it WAS delicious, and yes you can substitute and it will still be delicious. Perhaps I was inspired by this recipe:
Melanie November 7, 2016
This was easy and delicious!
Skiingstella August 25, 2015
We enjoyed the flavor of this recipe but found it a bit too salty. I will try cutting the fish sauce by 1-2 Tbsp next time we make this.
cocos C. June 29, 2015
I love a good steak salad, and this one is easy to make and full of flavor. It shows up regularly on our table. Thank you!
Kevin F. March 9, 2015
Was a very good and authentic tasting dish. Agreed with the Food52 comment about the beef-to-onion ratio at first, but the leftovers were delicious!
Burf March 6, 2015
This is fantastic! I found that a 30 minute marinade was a little long for our tastes (the plan is to try 15 minutes next time), but will *definitely* be making this again. Thanks Merav!
nancy W. August 25, 2014
Prepared this dish last night. I served the rice on a bed of field greens and doubled the sauce. So much flavor! I am going to try this with sliced grilled chicken.
Susan L. August 24, 2014
Is this "Crying Tiger " beef ?
Merav September 2, 2014
Susan, while the flavor profile is similar, I don't believe it's the same recipe as Crying Tiger beef.
Yessica May 23, 2014
This will be part of the menu for Saturday's get together. I can barely wait to try it.
sevenfaces May 7, 2014
Delicious! I spent about 15 minutes in total on prep and cooking, yet the results spoke volumes. Doubled the sauce amount so I could serve with thinly sliced cherry tomatoes and cucumber, rocket, lettuce and rice vermicelli. Looking forward to lunch tomorrow too :)
Diana April 20, 2014
Great and easy dinner. Had the salad in a bed of romaine with slices of cucumber on the aide. Will make this regularly!
Merav December 28, 2013
Wow! Just realized my recipe was reviewed - and loved! Now I'm craving it - dinner tonight for sure :)
Roro617 November 10, 2013
As a Thai person, I add chopped mint, use red onion and don't use chives. This has always been a favorite for me.