When I lived in New York City, I got it into my head that I should meet new people, branch out…you know, that sort of thing. People automatically suggested Meetup. I perused the site and settled on a Thai cooking class, figuring it would be a good way to meet other food lovers.
It was a bit of a fiasco to tell the truth, but it was mostly due to my attitude. There are always a bunch of characters at these Meetup things because they are attract awkward people like myself who can’t branch out through usual means. One woman complained loudly the whole time that everything was too spicy. Why would you take a Thai cooking class if you don’t like spicy food? Oh, and there wasn’t enough booze, something I desperately need in these situations.
In the end, the 90 minute trek to Prospect Lefferts, Brooklyn from my apartment in Harlem was worth it. The chef who taught the class was excellent. She shared this easy Thai beef salad recipe, and its fresh and bright flavors now make regular appearances in my cooking repertoire. It maximizes the potential of a cheap cut of beef, and it’s a great way to use up herbs that might be accumulating in your fridge. I will absolutely never order this dish at a restaurant again. It will never measure up.
Thai Beef Salad
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, vegetable oil, or rendered beef tallow (any fat with a high smoke point will work)
- 1 pound beef shoulder or chuck
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 handful of mint, chopped
- 1 handful of mixed herbs, chopped (cilantro, Thai basil, or regular basil work well here)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried Thai chili or 2 diced fresh bird’s eye chilis
- juice of 4 limes
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar (brown sugar is a good substitute)
1. Take the beef out of the fridge and season both sides aggressively with salt and pepper. Let it sit out for at least 30 minutes.
2. Pour the oil into a cast iron skillet and heat it on medium high until it is very hot, but not smoking. Add the piece of beef to the skillet; it should sizzle when it hits the pan. Sear for about 5 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the beef. Remove it from the skillet, and let it rest on the cutting board for at least 20 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, combine palm sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce. Set aside.
4. After the meat has finished resting, use a sharp knife to slice it as thinly as possible against the grain.
5. Combine the thinly sliced beef with the herbs, garlic, onions, and chili. Pour the lime juice dressing over the salad and toss to distribute evenly. Serve at room temperature.