Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spicy Grilled Beef Salad (Yam Neua Yang) – and the credit goes to...

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In some Asian cultures, the person who selects the ingredients gets half the credit for the meal - and rightly so. A great cook can make a half-decent meal out of miserable ingredients.  Great ingredients can make a half-decent cook out of anyone.
Spicy grilled beef salad
Bord Bia's From Plate to Page competition gives me an opportunity to mention one of my food heros - Terry Kavanagh. My local craft-butcher shop, Kavanagh’s in Roundwood, is frequented by top food critics and Oscar winners (well, I’ve seen one Oscar winner there) as well as us mere mortals. With such quality product nearby, the shopper’s task is no more taxing than to show up and point randomly because everything is good. Particularly good is Terry’s sirloin steak. Tender yet full of flavour, it is one of my favourite lazy meals, char-grilled with rosemary potato wedges, fried onions and mushrooms, and a blob of strong Dijon mustard.
Today, it is a blue-skied sparkling Spring day. Having had a miserable cold for the past week, my tastebuds are crying out for something light, yet nourishing, and zinging with flavour.
Looking down Niki Segnit’s list of flavours that love beef I see:
Chilli Garlic Ginger Lime Mint Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)  Onion Peanut Tomato
We lve beef !
Niki probably didn’t intend that they all appear together in the same dish however they are flavours that sing together as well as emphasising the flavour of the beef. This is my version of the Thai classic, Yam Neua Yang – spicy grilled beef salad.  To make life easier for yourself, prepare all the salad ingredients before you start to cook the steak.

For 2 substantial salads you will need...
2 x 200g sirloin steaks (about 2.5cm thick)
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the marinade/dressing you will need...
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 medium/hot red chilli, seeds removed, very finely diced
1 tablespoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
4 kaffir lime leaves or a ½ teaspoon grated lime peel
Juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon runny honey

1.         First make the marinade/dressing by mixing all the marinade ingredients together in a non-metal bowl.
2.         Pour a little of the marinade over the steak and cover, before refrigerating until needed. Reserve the rest of the marinade for your dressing.
3.         Next cook the steak: preheat a grill pan to medium. Using kitchen paper, blot the marinade from the steaks and lightly oil them. Grill for approximately 4 minutes each side. (I like my steak medium for this salad. Use more or less time to grill the steak to your own liking.) Remove from the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes while you assemble the salad.

For the salad you will need...
1 bag mixed salad leaves (I use a rocket, mizuna, red oakleaf lettuce mix for colour, flavour and texture)
2 tomatoes, deseeded and diced
½ cucumber, cut into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
3 whole scallions (spring onions) finely sliced on the diagonal
a generous handful of coriander leaf (cilantro), roughly chopped
50g roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

4.         Assemble the salad by scattering a bed of lettuce leaves on 2 platters or shallow bowls.
5.        Using kitchen paper, blot any excess juice from the tomato and cucumber and arrange on top of the salad leaves. Scatter with chopped mint.
Fresh and bursting with of colour and flavour
6.         When the steaks have rested, slice thinly and arrange on top of the salad. Scatter the scallions, peanuts and coriander leaf on top.
7.         Remove the kaffir lime leaves from the dressing before spooning over the salad. Serve immediately.
And the credit goes to...
This dish also makes a fantastic appetizer.
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