Spiced Salad of Braised Beef with Roasted Rice
This is a complex salad even by my standards, but I have to include it as it has been one of my favorites for about 10 years. It’s the way we often used up the trimmings of beef in the Mezzo kitchen. The flavor is intense, but the best part is the texture-the meat is stringy but soft, crisp, and salty. With the heat of the chile and the sourness of the green mango, it is an inspired combination. Master this salad and you will find it hard ever to beat it. You can multiply the recipe as many times as you like for a dinner party or feeding the masses. It is truly addictive, so make lots-you can store the meat in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Cooking Methodbraising, roasting
Total Timea day or more
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, tree nut free
Equipmentmortar and pestle
Taste and Texturecreamy, meaty, spiced
Type of Dishmain course salad, salad
- 1 1/3 lb boneless sirloin, fat removed, cut in chunks
- 1¼ cups fish sauce
- 8 cups coconut milk
- 3 thumb-sized pieces fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- 1 head galangal, roughly chopped (optional)
- Lemongrass strip, bruised
- 10 lime leaves (optional)
- Handful of white sticky (glutinous) rice
- 2 green mangos, peeled and cut into julienne
- 3 Thai shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 handfuls of fresh Cilantro
- 1 stalk lemongrass, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
- Large handful of fresh Thai basil
- Large handful of fresh mint leaves
- ¼ cup nam jim dressing (see below)
- 2 fresh large red chiles
- 2 fresh small green chiles
- ¼ cup palm sugar
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- ¼ cup lime juice
Put the meat in a large bowl and cover with the fish sauce. Seal with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, heat the oven to 325°F. Remove the beef from the fish sauce and put it in a large roasting pan with the coconut milk, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, and lime leaves. Put this in the oven to cook for 1 hour, then raise the temperature to 350°F and cook for 40 minutes longer.
Increase the oven temperature again, to 425°F, and cook for another 40 minutes to caramelize the mixture. It should turn golden brown and most of the coconut milk should have evaporated. It will look like the whole thing is burned, but it is not. It’s just fabulously tasty.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven (leave the oven on) and put the meat into a bowl or dish to cool. Do not refrigerate-the beef is much better served at room temperature-although you can obviously refrigerate any leftovers for the next day.
Meanwhile, soak the rice for the dressing in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes. Drain well, then spread it out on a baking sheet and roast in the 425°F oven, stirring often, until it is lightly browned and smells nutty. Transfer to a bowl and let cool, then grind to a coarse powder with a mortar and pestle.
To make the salad, shred the beef and put the mangos, shallots, cilantro, lemongrass, basil, and mint in a bowl, tearing any very large mint leaves into pieces. Add the dressing and toss gently. Serve the salad and beef together, sprinkling the roasted rice over the top like sesame seeds.
This quick and easy dressing is perfect for all the Thai salads. Make it fresh every time you want to use it.
Dice all the chiles, then, using a pestle and mortar, crush them with the palm sugar. Add the fish sauce and lime juice to taste and use as soon as possible, within 6 hours.
2008 John Torode