A few weeks ago I attended a Thai cooking class. We made Thai beef salad, a common appetizer at Thai restaurants. Our teacher taught us some secrets to cooking beef, something I don't have much experience with. It seems that you can use whatever cheap cuts looks good at the market to make this dish. The less marbling the better. I purchased some locally-raised chuck.
The chef didn't really give us a recipe because this dish is so easy to toss together. First, take the beef out of fridge to get the chill off and season both sides with salt and pepper. After at least 30 minutes, heat a generous amount of oil in a cast iron skillet. Set it on medium high and get it hot, but not smoking, and place the beef on the skillet. It should sizzle when it hits the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the beef. Remove the beef from the skillet, and let it rest on the cutting board for a tleast 20 minutes while you assemble the other ingredients:
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 handful mint, chopped
- 1 handful cilantro, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 Thai birds eye chilis, minced (PLEASE make it spicy! This is Thai food after all.)
- juice of 3-4 limes
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce mixed with 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
After the meat has finished resting, use a sharp knife to slice it as thinly as possible against the grain. Toss with the other ingredients and distribute them evenly. This dish is so easy to make at home, that I will never buy it at a restaurant ever again! Moderately priced Thai restaurants seemed to charge $10 - $15 for a small appetizer portion, but I made 2 very large portions for about $6 using very high quality meat.