Thursday, August 20, 2009

CEiMB: Grilled Thai Beef Salad

We don't eat salads nearly often enough. Salads are not at all popular in the jungle. Soups are, surprisingly for this hot climate, almost universally served instead of salads. When salads are served here, they are usually salads that aren't based on any type of lettuce or greens ... salads like carrot salads, beet salads, cucumber salads, tomato salads ... you get the idea. Lettuces aren't generally available here to buy, and those that are, are often small, soft and wilting heads of iceberg lettuce, that even on their best day, don't inspire a salad.

I love green salads. A big bowl of fresh green leaves makes such a perfect palette for a changing variety of toppings and tasty dressings. To this end, I am learning to grow green things in my garden. And fortunately, a few of those things, notably the cilantro and the "jungle spinach"* were ready to harvest. What better way to use them than in this special salad, chosen this week for the Craving Ellie in My Belly event by Jenn of Jenn B's Cooking Carveout.

I left it up to the universe as to what kind of lettuce I would find in the market, and luck was with me ... I found a head of not-too-rusty, curly, loose leaf lettuce AND a big handful of fresh basil!!

Grilled Thai Beef Salad
2007 Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved

4 servings (1 serving is about 2 1/2 cups salad)


For a variety of reasons, beef here is not that great ... and the chances of anyone knowing what the Spanish equivalent of a "top-round London broil" is, is pretty slim, so I decided to substitute another meat for the beef. I had decided on chicken, but remembered that I had a pork loin in the freezer that needed to be cycled, and I thought that it would work just fine.

The recipe calls for limes ... but I had a lemon just ready to fall off of the lemon tree (and I don't even have a lime tree), so I figured that it would substitute without changing the overall effect too much.

I once again used panela instead of brown sugar.

Red curry paste is not available here either. I checked for a recipe online and have decided to make some and keep it stored in the freezer for recipes like this ... but for today, I decided to use a few drops of Marie Sharp's Habanero Sauce to give a hint of hot.

Ingredients: Meat Step:

1 pound top-round London broil or flank steak, about 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick
3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons red curry paste or chili-garlic sauce

Ingredients: Salad Step:

1/2 head red-leaf lettuce, torn (about 6 cups)
3 shallots, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup), divided, for garnish
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, rinsed and dried
1 cup basil leaves, sliced into ribbons


Rinse and pat the meat dry. Place in a sealable plastic bag or small glass dish. In a medium bowl combine 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, soy sauce, canola oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and red curry paste. Pour half the mixture into the bag with the meat.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice to the bag.

Seal tightly, and marinate meat in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Reserve the rest of the mixture refrigerated, to dress the salad.

Spray grill or grill pan with cooking spray and preheat. Grill steak until medium-rare, about 5 minutes per side, depending on desired doneness. (I pan-fried the pork tenderloin)

Let rest until room temperature

Combine lettuce, sliced shallot, cilantro and basil (and the spinach leaves) in a salad bowl, reserving a few shallots for garnish.

Add the reserved dressing and toss to coat.
Cut meat across the grain

And place over salad in large bowl ...

Or, arrange salad on 4 plates and garnish with reserved sliced shallots.


I was enchanted with the flavors of the various greens (particularly the basil ... I never thought to add basil leaves to my salads before) melded with the asian taste of the dressing. I served the salad with avocado, which we have right now in great glorious abundance, and it accompanied perfectly. I am not a big fan of meat unless it is very soft and practically melts in your mouth ... and although the pork tenderloin that I used was incredibly well flavored, it was just a bit too chewy for my tastes. E. is not a salad eater at all ... yet he finished his entire salad! Now that really says something! I will definitely be making this again, except with chicken breast instead of the pork (or beef).

Thanks to Jenn of Jen B's Cooking Carveout for an excellent pick this week! This recipe will definitely provide an excellent improvement to our diet by enabling me to serve more leafy green vegetables.


Your salad sounds wonderful, really like the idea of putting avocado in it. And I am so jealous that you have a lemon tree.

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