Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thai Spicy Beef Salad : Yam Nuea

Last night my friend Ron came to dinner and we had a Thai and Viet Dinner. I made Vietnamese Summer Rolls with shrimp, peanuts, cucumber, herbs, radishes, carrots, rice noodles, ginger, chiles and bean sprouts. They were served with two sauces. I also made Spicy Beef Salad, Yam Nuea, which literally means "tossed beef". It is one of my absolute favorite things. While this recipe is exact, I usually eyeball the ingredients and adjust and taste until the flavors are at their most pungent. I make it spicy, but you can serve the chiles on the side if you have someone who cannot take the heat. This is also something I love to make when I have steak left over for any reason. Sometimes I just grill an extra one and save it for the next day's salad.. I have taken some liberties here by adding ingredients that may not be found the purest form of the recipe in Thailand, though I took measures not to "Americanize" the recipe. 

Thai Spicy Beef Salad : Yam Nuea
1 lb. boneless steak, almost any cut works for this, but I generally use sirloin or rib eye. 

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots or red onions, separated
  • 2 tomatoes, wedged
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber1/8 cup thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup very thinly sliced cucumber
  • 1 inch piece of galangal (or ginger if you cannot find galangal) finely minced Thai chile peppers or Hawaiian peppers
  • 1/2 cup each rough chopped Thai Basil, Mint, green onions and Cilantro
  • 1 inch piece of galangal (or ginger if you cannot find galangal) finely minced 
Garnish (use all or any of these as you desire)
  • Bean sprouts and/or lettuces, enough to make a bed on a platter
  • Toasted sweet rice (see note)
  • Toasted Peanuts
  • Sliced kumquats 
  • Lime wedges
  • Chopped Thai Basil

  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 3 tbsp. sweet dark soy sauce 
  • 3 tbsp. sweet chili sauce
  • 6 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp. minced galangal or ginger
  • 3 tbsp. chopped coriander/cilantro (including the roots)
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots (small red or purple onions)
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 3 Thai Chiles minced finely

Barbeque the beef, it should be rare to medium rare on the inside and nicely crusted on the outside. Slice as thinly as possible. If the steak is wide, cut pieces in half so that they can be eaten without using a knife. 
Put dressing ingredients in a blender and combine.  Pour about 1/4 cup of the dressing over the beef slices and allow to marinade for about 30 minutes. If you do not have a blender or want to do this the old fashioned way, you can use a mortar and pestle to crunch up the dry ingredients and then add to the liquid. 
Put all salad ingredients together and toss in a bowl with the sauce. Place the salad on a platter lined with bean sprouts and/or cabbage or lettuce. Garnish as desired. 
NOTE: The toasted sweet rice is toasted in a dry skillet and then ground slightly either using a pestle and mortar or a small grinder. This is an essential textural element to the salad.


Serve with sticky rice, lettuce, condiments and dipping sauce.

In Thailand the first two condiments below (Nam pla prik and Prik dong) are likely be on every household's table together with a separate small dish of plain white sugar and a separate small dish of ground chili powder. Spoonfulls of each are added to suit individual taste. You can make a portion of Nam pla prik and Prik dong and keep in a jar (non refrigerated) for serving as a condiment in this manner. These condiments keep very well.

Prik Si-iew wan, kratiem dong and Khing Ki mao are less common and usually served for particular dishes.

Nam pla prik:

Put two thirds of a cup of Thai chile peppers in a 1 pint jar, and fill with fish sauce. Seal and keep for a week before using.

Prik dong:

Put two thirds of a cup of Thai chile peppers in a 1 pint jar, and fill with white rice vinegar.

Prik si-iew wan:

Put two thirds of a cup of jalapeno peppers in a 1 pint jar, and fill with sweet dark soy sauce.

Kratiem dong:

Peel and slice two thirds of a cup of garlic, place it in the 1 pint jar, add 1 teaspoon of palm sugar, and one teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of MSG (optional but recommended) and topped up with white rice vinegar.

Khing ki mao:

Julienne two thirds of a cup of fresh ginger (into match stick sized pieces). Place in the 1 pint jar. Add half a cup of whiskey (rice whiskey if available). Add 1/2 cup white rice vinegar, and fill up the jar with fish sauce.
You can play with this basic salad and substitute grilled tofu or grilled eggplant to make this vegetarian, of course then you need to find vegetarian fish sauce equivalent. I have seen this in Asian markets. You could also use it with pork tenderloin or shrimp. 

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