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Spicy Thai beef salad...perfect quick summer eating

Updated on August 1, 2010

Spicy food for hot days

When the weather gets hot, there's nothing better than quick and easy cooking, with enough spice to get the blood flowing and the sweat pouring; and when the mercury climbs, look east to the foods of Thailand as a perfect antidote to the hot days of summer, when spending much time over a hot stove sounds like torture.

Thai spicy salads (yam) are made with just about anything you can think of, and are almost universally quick and easy to prepare, fresh tasting and very healthy…oh yeah, and very SPICY!!! Perfect hot weather food.

These dished are full of fresh and raw vegetables, minimal quantities of grilled meats and a simple spicy, sour and no fat dressing. Thai style yam is about as healthy as eating can get.

The recipe as follows is for a simple grilled beef salad, allowing you to prepare an entire meal without ever turning on the oven or range in an already overheated house. Beef can be substituted for chicken, pork, shrimp, fish, squid, boiled eggs…whatever you can think of! There may seem to be a lot of ingredients, but they are quite quickly chopped and mixed, and it's little different from composing a traditional western salad in technique.

Easy Yam Neua (hot and spicy Thai style beef salad)

  • 1 lb of inexpensive yet flavorful steak - flank, rump or sirloin…or whatever you've got!
  • 2 Tbls fish sauce
  • 3 ½ Tbls lime juice (freshly squeezed!)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • The green part of 1 stalk of lemon grass (available at all Asian markets) very thinly shaved. It's tough, but when shaved finely, lends a crunchy and flavorful textural component to the salad
  • 5-10 chopped Thai bird chilies (use more or less depending on your affinity for spice…usually better to start with less, and add more if needed!)
  • 4-5 red shallots, thinly shaved
  • A couple of green onions chopped
  • ½ cup of mint leaves; roughly shopped, or even better, simply plucked from the stalks
  • 1/3 cup of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 not too ripe plum tomatoes cut in into quarters (you don’t want a juicy ripe tomato for this one)
  • 1 peeled cucumber, also shaved thinly
  1. Pre heat grill, and BBQ steak until medium rare, let rest for 5 minutes, and then cut across the grain into ¼ inch slices.
  2. Make the dressing mixing the garlic, lemon grass, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and chili in a bowl until homogenous and combined.
  3. Add the beef to all the remaining vegetables and herbs, and toss with the dressing. Taste for salt, spice and sour, and add more fish sauce (salty) lime juice or chili as is needed.

Serve with plain jasmine rice, and with ice water, fresh fruit shakes, or cold lager beer, and enjoy a meal always ready to beat the heat!


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