THAI BEEF SALAD
Dishes that are easily prepared ahead of guest arrival and dishes that are equally good room temperature and cold rank highly on my summer menu rotation. Thai food lends itself easily to heat wave entertaining. This Thai beef pairs well with the Tandoori Shrimp and Mango Salad the Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken with Peanut Sauce and Coconut Rice. All of the colors of each dish make a spectacular presentation. When a guest offers to bring something, ask them to come with Singha beer. To get the party started, a light floral sparkling wine will compliment rather than compete with the tangle of flavors on each dinner plate.
Nota bene: This dish is equally good without the meat. Substitute pad Thai brown rice noodles for the thin Thai pasta and it becomes a vegetarian friendly dish.
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns, coarsely ground
3 pounds filet or sirloin steak
Grape seed oil
14 ounces thin Thai rice noodles
6 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 small handfuls fresh Thai basil (or a little more if using garden basil), tear by hand
2 small handfuls fresh mint, tear by hand
2 small handfuls fresh cilantro leaves, micro greens preferred, tear by hand
5 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
2-3 small heads Boston lettuce
4 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped
4 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped fresh (or use micro cilantro)
6 medium garlic cloves finely chopped
1 small red Serrano chili, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemongrass, finely chopped (white part of stalk only)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
6 tablespoons olive oil
1. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Put the salt and pepper in a shallow dish and roll the beef in it evenly. Add grape seed oil to skillet and when shimmering, add beef. Cook the beef for 4-5 minutes on each side until seared all over and rare inside. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before slicing as thin as possible.
2. Place the noodles in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water on top. Set aside until tender, about 5-10 minutes. Rinse and drain.
3. To make the dressing, combine the ginger, cilantro, garlic, chili, sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, soy, lemongrass, sesame oil, and olive oil in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour half over drained noodles.
4. To serve, put Boston lettuce leaves on a large platter (or individual plate). Layer the dressed noodles on top of lettuce followed by half of the fresh herbs. Cut steak into thin strips and place on top. Sprinkle with the remaining herbs followed by roasted peanuts. Drizzle the remaining dressing over salad.