Our Thai-inspired beef salad celebrates the flavors and freshness of the Thai cuisine. Loaded with fresh herbs, cucumber, tender slices of steak, and a simple yet powerful vinaigrette, this entree salad is crave-able and totally satisfying.
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Why This Recipe Works
Our take on Yum Nua, or Thai Beef Salad is just that, our take. This is not an authentic recipe for Yum Nua, but it is inspired by it and celebrates the fresh flavors we love of Southeast Asian cuisine. The authentic Thai Salad known as Yum Nua actually features tomato (ours does not). If you’re looking for something more authentic, check out this recipe.
Though not a traditional ingredient for a Thai-inspired salad, we find the addition of toasted peanuts add a lovely flavor and crunch. To cut down on prep time, skip toasting unsalted peanuts and purchased toasted and salted peanuts. Then just give them a rough chop and carry on.
Long Grain Rice, optional
Toasted rice powder (made from long grain rice) is a common ingredient in Thai and Lao dishes. It’s easy to make and adds a nutty flavor to dishes like Larb, and is also used to thicken sauces and dips, such as Jaew. To keep this dish weeknight-friendly, I toast the rice fairly quickly, but for a deeper flavor and more authentic, true-to-form toasted rice powder, follow this recipe.
When serving cucumbers raw, we like to give them the smash-and-salt treatment. This method, which we use in our Chinese-Inspired Cucumber Salad, season the cucumbers perfectly while also slightly tenderizing them, giving the chunks a delicious texture.
This allium adds the perfect oniony/garlicky flavor to the salad. To lessen its potency we soak the slices in cold water while preparing the other components of the salad. This short stint in water washes away its sharpness without altering the flavor. To soften the flavor even more, stir in a splash of vinegar and a dash of salt.
We love cooking with top sirloin. For starters, most top sirloin steaks are 1 pound, which we find makes this cut even more versatile. Serve it over a salad like we are here and you can easily serve 4 people. Or serve it on it’s own with a side of steamed veg and you’ve got a great date night meal.
Aside from its size, the top sirloin also has fabulous marbling which makes this cut super flavorful and forgiving. Check out this article for more info on the Top Sirloin steak and a guide on how to cook it (4 ways!).
The vinaigrette for this salad is simple yet powerful and made with fresh lime juice, fish sauce, honey and minced serrano. For a more authentic vinaigrette, seek out a Birds Eye Chile or red thai chile. We think they’re hard to find, so we rely on a serrano (plus they have a super consistent heat).
For another dose of savoriness, the steak—and its juices—gets tossed in the vinaigrette before being piled over the salad.
The base of this salad is simple—bibb lettuce, cilantro and mint. The Thai cuisine relies heavily on fresh herbs and we wanted to stay true to that. We find cilantro to be essential, but feel free to play around with other herbs like basil or chives.
Test Kitchen Tips
- If you can’t find Top Sirloin steak, there are a few cuts you can use including flatiron steak, top blade steak, top round, or flank steak.
- If you want the dressing to be a little thicker, whisk some of the rice powder into the vinaigrette.
- Feel free to swap the honey out for palm sugar (more authentic) or even brown sugar.
- For a less-spicy vinaigrette, de-seed and de-rib the serrano before mincing.
Thai Beef Salad with Mint and Cilantro
- 2 tablespoons long grain rice optional
- 2 tablespoons unsalted peanuts
- 1 english cucumber
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 (1-pound) top sirloin steak
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 serrano chili, minced*
- 4 cups Bibb lettuce leaves, torn
- 1 ½ cups cilantro leaves
- ¾ cup torn mint leaves
- Preheat a cast iron-skillet over medium-low for 3 minutes.
- Add rice (if using) and toast until deeply golden, about 10 minutes; transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Add peanuts to skillet and toast until fragrant and golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a second bowl and let cool.
- Grind rice into a fine powder in a spice grinder. Transfer to a bowl.
- Pulse nuts in spice grinder until roughly chopped.
- Halve cucumber lengthwise, placed halves, cut side down on cutting board, and smash with back of hand until cracked and lightly smashed. Cut smashed cucumbers into chunks.
- Toss cucumber chunks with ½ teaspoon salt in a colander set over a bow; set aside until ready to serve.
- Add sliced shallots to a small bowl; cover with cold water and set aside.
- Preheat cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
- Season steak with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
- Place steak in skillet and cook until charred and beads of moisture begin to form around edges of steak, about 3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125ºF for medium-rare, about 3 more minutes. For medium cook to an internal temperature is 135ºF, about 4 minutes per side.
- Transfer steak to a clean plate, tent loosely with foil or parchment paper and let rest 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together lime juice, fish sauce, honey, and chili in a medium bowl.
- Thinly slice steak (¼ inch thick) across the grain, add to bowl with dressing and toss to coat.
- When ready to serve, toss bibb lettuce and herbs together on a large platter. Top with salted and drained cucumbers. Drain shallots then add to platter.
- Arrange steak slices over top then drizzle dressing over salad.
- Sprinkle with toasted rice powder and peanuts; serve.