Asian beef salad with chilli lime dressing
I know how daunting a lengthy-looking list of ingredients for a recipe can be, so I feel that the first thing I must say about this dish is that despite having that very thing, it’s actually really easy to make. And you most certainly don’t have to use the salad ingredients I’ve mentioned here – please think of them as suggestions only. I quite often cook the steak and just serve it on a bed of salad greens – rocket, watercress, lettuce, mint – whatever I happen to have on hand. And I must admit that at various times the salad has sported everything from tomatoes and capsicums to avocado, so there are certainly no hard and fast rules to it. About the only thing to keep in mind is that the mint gives it a really beautiful refreshing flavour, so I’m loath to leave that out, but otherwise mix-and-match as much as you’d like. The recipe makes enough for 2 people, but it’s easily doubled to serve 4.
350 g (or thereabouts) rib eye steaks (approx. 2 medium-sized), at cool room temperature
Oil, to brush the meat
A few mint leaves and handful of roasted salted peanuts, to garnish, optional
Chilli lime dressing:
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
Finely grated zest 1 lime
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce, or more to taste
2 teaspoons palm sugar (or soft brown sugar)
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
2 teaspoons very finely chopped fresh ginger
½ teaspoon freshly-ground cumin seeds
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh coriander leaves
80 g snow peas
1 large (or 3 small) Lebanese cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthways, and seeded
Pale green and white parts of 3 spring onions, very finely sliced on the diagonal
2 large handfuls of snow pea sprouts or shoots
⅓ cup fresh mint leaves (tightly packed)
12 or so Vietnamese mint leaves, torn in half
3 radishes, scrubbed and very finely sliced into rounds
Firstly, make the chilli lime dressing. To do this, put the olive oil, chilli sauce, lime zest, lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar into a bowl. Ideally use a little whisk to whisk everything together to help dissolve the palm sugar (palm sugar can tend to clump together a bit, so it may take a little while to dissolve.) Thoroughly stir in the garlic, ginger, cumin, and chilli, then cover the bowl and set it aside. Just before dressing the meat and salad, slice the coriander leaves and stir them in (I don’t do this earlier as the coriander tends to darken and lose its bright green colour.) Taste the dressing and adjust the flavours to suit you.
For the salad, string the snow peas and sit them in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over them so they’re completely covered, then leave them for 1 minute or until they turn vivid green. Drain the snow peas and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice and water to set the colour. Once they’re cool, scoop them out of the water and dry them off in a clean tea towel then put them in a medium-sized bowl. Slice the cucumber on an angle and add it to the bowl along with the spring onions, pea or bean sprouts, both lots of mint leaves, and the radish. Cover the bowl tightly, and pop it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the salad.
Preheat your barbecue to medium-high.
Lightly brush the steaks with a little oil then sit them on the barbecue. Cook them for 2 – 3 minutes per side, or until they’re done to your liking, then transfer them to a warm plate. (I’m afraid I’m relying on you to judge when the steaks are cooked, as so much depends on how thick they are. The cooking time above will cause a steak about 2cm thick to be on the rare side.) Brush or spoon a little of the dressing over the meat, and leave it, loosely covered with foil, for at least 8 minutes before slicing it across the grain into thin strips. Put the strips into a bowl and spoon on a bit more dressing, then stir them about so they’re well coated.
To serve the salad, use your hands (wear food prep gloves if you like) to gently mix the salad ingredients together. Put a pile of salad on each plate (reserving a small amount) and drizzle a little dressing over the top. Scatter most of the beef strips over the salad, then finish off with the remaining salad, beef, and any leftover dressing. Garnish with a few extra mint leaves and peanuts, if using.