Spicy Beef Salad

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

The Thai are specialists at using beef in light-tasting dishes, like this salad. Green peppercorns have a fresher, more earthy flavor than black peppercorns. Here both are used—but what you notice are the green peppercorns.

NotesFresh green peppercorns can be found in Thai food shops. If you cannot find the fresh, substitute 2 teaspoons dried green peppercorns reconstituted in 3 tablespoons hot water for 30 minutes. The resulting green pepper water also testes good and can be used in the dressing.

Serves2 as a light meal, 4 as a starter

Cooking Methodsauteeing


Total Timeunder 30 minutes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Courseappetizer, main course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, lactose-free, peanut free, tree nut free

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturehot & spicy, meaty, sweet, tangy, umami

Type of Dishfirst course salad, main course salad, salad


  • 1 8-ounce boneless sirloin steak
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons fish sauce (nam pia)
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Oil for panfrying, such as canola
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into 6 wedges each and seeded
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 2-inch chunk of cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into sticks
  • 2 mild chiles, seeded and sliced
  • 2 tablespoon fresh green peppercorns or reconstituted dried peppercorns (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 to 4 small bird’s-eye chiles, bruised
  • 1 tablespoon crispy dried onions or deep-fried scallions for garnish (optional)


  1. Pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, sugar, and black pepper in a deep plate and add the meat, turning to coat both sides of the steak. Set aside to marinate for a couple of minutes.

  2. Heat a little oil in a large skillet over high heat. Sear the meat for 2 minutes on each side, then return it to the marinade (set the skillet aside). Let rest for 2 to 4 minutes, turning twice.

  3. Set the skillet over medium heat, add the steak, and cook for 3 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, scallions, onion, cucumber, and mild chiles.

  5. Crush the green peppercorns gently with the side of a knife. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, 2 teaspoons fish sauce, sugar, bird’s-eye chiles, and green peppercorns.

  6. Cut the meal diagonally across the grain into ¼-inch slices. Add to the salad. Add the dressing and toss well. Sprinkle with the crispy dried onions (if desired) and serve immediately.


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