Friday, February 25, 2011

Thai Beef Salad

 I developed this recipe to serve to a friend who was coming to visit. I hadn't seen my friend Ted in 15 years, and was excited to catch up when he Facebooked me to let me know that he would be in town. In addition to feeling excited, I was a bit nervous, too. 18 years ago, Ted was my boss, the executive chef at a restaurant where I served as the lowly prep and occasional line cook. It took me a while to get used to his dry wit and direct honesty, but we eventually bonded over books on tape. He'd pop a casette into the tape deck, hit the giant, thumb-size button and we'd silently lose ourselves in the story as we chopped, sliced and diced, in preparation of that evening's manic service.
It was at that job that I realized I didn't want to become an executive chef. But I did enjoy the gentleness of listening to stories being read aloud, as we worked behind the scenes away from the mayhem of a busy professional kitchen.
So last night, Ted arrived, we chatted, he showed me pictures of his daughter and played with mine, then we ate. Talking all the way through dinner, no one mentioned the food. I wondered what my former boss thought of the salad. Finally, Ted proclaimed it to be outstanding-- although I'm not sure if he was being facetious. I need to readjust to that dry wit.

2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1-2 teaspoons minced serrano chile
1/3 to 1/2 vegetable oil (lesser will produce a more tart vinaigrette)
3 cloves garlic, minced (not to be added to the dressing-- read below)

2 pound Flank steak
3 green onions, sliced thinly
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup fresh mint leaves
8 cups mixed greens
Pint of very ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 an English cucumber, sliced into bite size pieces
Handful of chopped, lightly or unsalted peanuts

1) Mix the dressing up. Pour 1/2 into a container large enough to hold the flank steak and add in the garlic. Place the steak in there and marinate at room temp for 30 minutes, or in the fridge for up to 8 hours. Hold the rest of the dressing aside.

2) Start the grill, or broiler. Remove the steak from the marinade and dry well with paper towels. Sprinkle with sea salt and grill or broil until medium rare, between 4-6 minutes per side on a hot grill. Broiling in the oven will take about the same amount of time, unless you have a Salamader, in which case you must be A) wealthy, and can have your cook prepare dinner, or B) work in a restaurant in which case, you don't need me to tell you how to cook flank steak. Remove the steak from the grill and/or oven to a platter and cover to loosely with foil or, in an effort to cook greener, invert another platter over top. While the meat is resting, make the salad.

3) Toss the greens with the green onions and herbs, dress the salad and toss again, then scatter the tomatoes and cucs. Slice the beef thinly, against the grain and layer the strips on top of the salad. Sprinkle peanuts over top and serve it up!
Serves 4 with left-over steak which will make an awesome sandwich tomorrow for lunch.

No comments: