When the weather starts to warm up, I always enjoy the shift from the heavier, creamier winter flavours to the light and fragrant summer dishes. Thai beef salad is something I always keep in my back pocket for hot days.
The refreshing sour hit from the lime dressing, along with the heat of the chilli and the crunchy texture of the raw vegetables makes it a perfect summer salad to have in your back pocket. This Thai beef salad absolutely packed with flavour and is incredibly simple to put together.
A lot of what makes this Thai beef salad so good is the meat. I use eye fillet in this recipe because it is the leanest cut you can get and the slight marbling in it breaks down into wonderful fatty flavour. Of course, you can use a cheaper cut of meat, like a rump or round steak, but you will have to remove a lot more fat and sinew and you wont get quite the same flavour as a rare eye fillet. I personally believe that it is worth paying the extra here, but I’ll leave that up to you!
Prep Time 25 minutes (+15 mins marinading)
Cook Time 5-10 minutes
- 400g eye fillet (or other suitable beef cut)
- 2 birds eye chillies
- 1/2 tsp fresh ginger
- 1 large clove garlic
- Handful fresh coriander (with stems)
- 75ml (1/4 cup) soy sauce
- 3 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 whole lime (juice)
- 5 large wombok (Chinese cabbage) leaves
- 1 large red capsicum
- Half red onion
- 1 tsp white or black sesame seeds
- 8-10 cherry tomatoes
- Non-stick pan
- Chopping Board
- Small bowl
- Large bowl
- Chef’s knife
- Boning knife (for cleaning the meat)
Making the Marinade
- Dice the garlic and ginger finely, slice the chillies (remove the seeds if you’re not a fan) and separate the coriander leaves from the stems. Chop the stems up finely and add them and the other ingredients to a small bowl.
- Pour in your soy sauce, mirin, oyster sauce and lime juice and mix all ingredients thoroughly.
- Place your eye fillet on your board and remove the sinew and any excessively thick fat. Don’t remove all the fat as eye fillet is very lean already and the fat adds flavour. I recommend using a boning knife for this step as eye fillet is an expensive cut of meat and using a knife with a thick blade (like a chef’s knife) can result in unnecessary wastage. If you don’t own a boning knife then simply use your chef’s knife and be very careful!
- Slice the beef into thin strips, about 10cm long.
- Place the meat in the marinade and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. You don’t want to marinade the meat for too long as this marinade is very acidic and the meat will start to break down very quickly.
Preparing the salad
- Make sure to wash your chopping board after slicing the beef.
- Remove the wombok leaves and slice them finely. Cut the capsicum into fine matchsticks, slice the red onion, halve the cherry tomatoes and place all ingredients into a large bowl. Add the coriander leaves you remove from the stems earlier and mix.
Cooking the Beef
- Once the beef has sat in the marinade for 10-15 minutes, heat up a non-stick pan until it is at a very high heat. Add a splash of vegetable oil to the pan (olive oil burns quickly at high heats) and place the beef carefully into the pan — watch out for the marinade spitting!
- Cook the beef for approximately 30 seconds on one side and then turn and cook for a further 30 seconds. Season both sides well. Add the marinade to the pan and let it soak into the beef for a further 30 seconds. You can cook the meat for longer if you prefer it well done, but I will always recommend for eye fillet to be cooked rare or medium rare, as it is so lean that it is unnecessary to cook it for long periods.
- Pour the beef and marinade into the bowl with the salad in it and mix with tongs.
- Garnish with the sesame seeds and a sprig of coriander and serve.
I feel like I should use this Thai beef salad recipe as an advertisement for what eye fillet steak can do for a dish. If you have never tried it and always opt for the cheaper cuts, I implore you to give it a try at least once, as with the right seasoning it really elevates simple salads like this to a whole new plain of food existence.
You can do a lot of things with this salad. You could add some more crunch with some cashews or peanuts or even some deep-fried noodles. Add herbs like Thai basil or Vietnamese mint for a more authentic Thai touch. If you want to make this dish vegan than simple replace the beef with some firm tofu.
As usual I would encourage you to experiment with the ingredients of this Thai beef salad and come up with your own version of the dish, as you can really mix and match with salads to make something unique to your own tastes!