Thai Beef Salad (Yum Neua Yang): a CardioKit recipe

...and the power of the Japanese Mandolin

The changing climate actually has a significant impact on the ease and motivation to get healthy —  New Year is a perfect time to start ‘one month to change your life’ which you can find in READ. In Spring dietary patterns naturally move away from starchy, energy rich comfort foods towards fresh, light dishes, further encouraged by the explosion of summer ingredients. Combine this with a brisk (sunny) walk everyday and you will transform your risk factors, weight control and well-being.

South East Asian salads are amazing. The combination of a few simple ingredients will elevate some basic salad vegetables into an exotic combination of flavours that you will actively crave — for Thai food the classic balanced combination of Sweet, Salty, Sour and Spicy. This creates a perfect vehicle to boost the vegetable content of your meals whilst displacing refined or rapidly digested carbohydrates. Extra satisfaction and health boosting properties come from the usual addition of nuts.

This Salad is simple to prepare but made even easier (and quicker) through one piece of essential kitchen equipment — a Japanese Mandolin. This will transform the options and potential interpretations of every day vegetables into interesting and fun meals. It’s the textures of the vegetables which are fundamental to eating enjoyment. The other kitchen gadget that will help with this one is a Mortar and Pestle. Neither are essential but recommended.

Clearly you can use any combination of veg (and fruit) in your salad but there are a few specific elements to highlight.

The Beef

This Thai beef salad is made with skirt steak — if you haven’t tried this inexpensive cut before we would highly recommend it. Available in some supermarkets and most butchers. Skirt is full of flavour, cheap and when griddled quickly and cut across the grain in thin strip beautifully tender -perfect for this salad. Also when served this way you get full meat flavour and satisfaction without eating large amounts.

The Vegetables

We have again focused on a range of textures — crunchy and soft. This has been further accentuated by cutting very thin slices or ‘Julienne’ match stick via the mandolin — super quick. Finally as this is a Cardiologist’s Kitchen recipe focused on cardiovascular risk factors, our salad is rich in nitrate containing vegetables including Chinese leaf cabbage, fennel bulb and radish which can help reduce blood pressure without tablets.

Dressing — the most important part

This is what makes this a Thai Beef Salad. The basic Thai dressing combines fish sauce (salty/savoury), lime juice (sour), sugar (sweet) and chilli (spicy and hot) to produce the classic Thai flavours. Our interpretation boosts the Thai flavours with garlic, ginger and lemongrass. We feel the small amount of sugar per person used here is acceptable when it compliments and makes all the other healthy elements so tasty. Once you get the store cupboard ingredients and become familiar with making the dressing we guarantee you will get addicted to these salads. Don’t be put off if the ingredients seem unfamiliar — you have to try this one.

On this recipe we are not going to specify quantities apart for the dressing as we want you to tailor this one to your personal taste:

  • red onion thinly sliced
  • Chinese leaf cabbage thinly sliced
  • fennel bulb thinly sliced
  • radish thinly sliced
  • cucumber thinly sliced
  • tomato quartered
  • carrot — thin strips
  • Thai basil — amazingly fragrant and available in Asian supermarkets — otherwise use mint and/or coriander
  • unprocessed peanuts — roasted in a dry pan for a few minutes until golden and crushed
  • skirt steak (even better marinated in onion)
  • (you can add rice noodles for a more substantial dish)

For the dressing:

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • equal size ginger (thumbnail sized)
  • 1- 2 lemongrass — tough outer removed and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce — ignore the strong smell, tastes amazing when combined with the other ingredients and is fundamental for that authentic Thai taste.
  • chilli based on your heat preference, 1–2 mild chillies normally for the Western palate (ferocious Thai Bird’s Eye chilli if you want to be authentic and like it hot)
  • 1.5 tablespoons of palm sugar (can use normal sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • splash of rapeseed or olive oil

Ultimately you need to taste the dressing and balance the flavours — sometime may need more lime, fish sauce or sugar.

  1. Grate or blend a large onion and spread the paste and juice over your steak. Season with salt and black pepper with a splash of oil to allow the flavours to marinate. You can poke the meat all over with a sharp knife tip to allow penetration. Cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours to marinate.
  2. Mandolin or slice your vegetables and herbs ready for the salad. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Roast a handful of peanuts in a dry non-stick pan until golden. Crush roughly (best in a mortar and pestle). Add to the salad.
  4. The steak is best cooked on a griddle pan but can be any non-stick frying pan. Heat the pan until smoking hot and add the steak (no additional oil required apart from the steak coating). Cook for around 3–4 minutes on each side (fight the temptation for frequent flipping so you develop a nice crust) so that is remains juicy and blushing in the centre. Transfer to a board to rest.
  5. The dressing is best made in a mortar and pestle but you can chop or use a blender. Place the dry ingredient in the mortar and give a good bashing until a paste. You can add a small shallotte (or red onion) and tomato for extra depth of flavour. Now add the wet ingredients, combine and taste. It should be a delicious combination of salty, sweet, sour and hot.
  6. Your steak should be well rested now. Cut into as thin as possible strips against the grain (essential for tenderness).
  7. Toss all the ingredients together and enjoy. You can grind some black pepper but no additional salt is required. If you want add some rice noodles for a more substantial meal — all you have to do is steep in boiled water for a few minutes and then refresh under a cold tap before adding to the salad.

As we said above — you have to try this one.

Delicious, simple, quick and healthy!

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