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Author Notes: This recipe combines elements from two of my favorite Northern Thai dishes—Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum) and Spicy Beef Salad (Yam Neua). The two are usually eaten in tandem at the table, alternated between mouthfuls of sticky rice, and are dressed with the classic Thai combination of lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and just as much chili as you can stand. Since I’m not Thai, and by no means an arbiter of knowledge on Thai cuisine beyond the one summer I spent in the country, I thought I’d spice things up a bit (well, enough for my American taste buds) by adding the cherry tomatoes and roasted peanuts from Som Tum to my beef salad, creating one refreshing, sweet, salty, crunchy, carnivorous delight. Both salads are usually set atop a small bed of undressed shredded lettuce, acting more as a garnish than a base. I chose to use mizuna, which is more frequent in Japanese cooking, to give the beef an extra peppery bite. —PhoebeLapine
For the Salad
- 3/4 pound flank steak
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 shallot, sliced very thin
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
- 3-5 ounces mizuna (or baby arugula)
For the Dressing
- 2 cloves garlic, pushed through a press
- 2-3 teaspoons sriracha (or you can use minced Thai chilies)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 5 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 limes, juiced
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- Trim off any excess fat from the steak and season it well with salt and pepper on both sides. Brush a ridged indoor grill pan with oil and set it over a high flame. When the pan is hot, set the steak down diagonally on the pan and cook until dark marks have formed. On the same side, shift the steak so it lies on the opposite diagonal of the pan. This will create a beautiful cross-hatch. Repeat on the other side, and cook until medium rare (when the meat has firmed up, but still has some give when prodded). Cover the steak with tin foil and set aside to rest for at least 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, combine the fresh herbs, shallot, tomatoes, and half of the peanuts in a medium mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the dressing.
- Once the meat has properly rested, transfer it to a cutting board and slice it into thin strips on a diagonal (your knife should be positioned at a 45 degree angle). Toss the meat together with the salad mixture and the dressing.
- To serve, create a large bed of mizuna on two plates, and top each with a large helping of beef salad (making sure to keep some of the liquid). Garnish with the remaining peanuts and a few leaves of cilantro.