Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Waterfall Beef Salad

Or at least what we've been calling "Waterfall Beef Salad."

We picked up the name from a show called Food Safari on the Food Network. They featured a Thai immigrant to Australia making Waterfall Beef Salad. He is from the northeastern part of Thailand -- Issan? -- and they eat this salad with sticky rice, forming rice balls between their fingers and picking up a strips of beef and herbs and wrapping them around the rice ball.

That Food Safari show is pretty good. It features a different cuisine each time, and basically, each episode has a few cooks making a dish in their home. It seems pretty authentic. There are some ingredients and dishes in the show we haven't even seen or heard of! Just a note: on the show, they call green onions "shallots" and shallots "echalottes". It was a mild source of confusion at first. ;)


Our version of "Waterfall Beef Salad" is different because:
JS always insists on marinating the beef. ;D
We add greens to the mix.
I add oil to the sauce to make it more like a salad dressing.

We've done our version of "Waterfall Beef Salad" for one of our parties last year. It was quite a popular item on the buffet table.

I usually start with the dressing so it's done and out of the way. Dealing with lime starts everything off the right way. It smells so nice!

As per the guy in Food Safari, the traditional sauce for this dish contains lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar.

For mine, I added lime zest and chile peppers. I also added some vegetable oil (as mentioned above). This is so good I can drink it!

I started with a flank steak. You can use any cut of beef you like. Flank for us because we like the chewiness of the cut. Something like rib eye would be good, if you wanted to splurge a little bit. Sirloin would also be a sensible choice.

The beef would have to be cooked prior to assembly of the salad. Depending on which is easiest, or depending on which is hardest, depending on how much labour you want to invest, you can choose to sear it on a hot pan, broil it under the broiler, or grill it outside. Grilling it would add the flavour of smoke, something that would also be good in this context. Today, we just decided to sear the steak, because that is the easiest of the methods for us.

Prior to searing the meat, I did a quick marinade for the beef. This is a slightly different marinade than what we had for the party. Today's marinade include the juice and zest of one lime, some fish sauce, some ground coriander, a little bit of sesame oil, salt and pepper. (We used fish sauce, palm sugar, soy sauce, lime juice for the marinade before.) There are no measurements here. I usually just do it by eye.

Sear the steak. Let it rest. Cut thinly into strips.

The greens consisted of green leaf lettuce, cilantro stalks, and Thai basil, mint leaves. You can use any salad greens you like or have, but something on the more tender side would be better. Red leaf lettuce, for example, would also work very nicely.

We have a bunch of shots of JS washing and drying not just the green leaf lettuce and basil, but the cilantro and mint. They're not shown here, but she wanted to make sure she received credit for doing this tedious work. ;D

Here's some peanuts that we had from our
pad Thai prep. It's not a traditional ingredient from what I gathered from the show, but since we didn't make the toasted rice, I thought this would fill the nuttiness/crunch void.

Making toasted rice is easy enough, though. The aroma and flavor it adds really is something different. We've done this for the party mentioned above. We simply toasted some raw jasmine rice in a dry pan with some kaffir lime leaves and/or lemongrass. Then we ground the rice (removing the leaves/lemongrass) in a coffee grinder until fairly fine. Of course, one would toss this with the salad right from the beginning, but we actually forgot to add the rice until it was almost halfway through the party!

This salad is very quick and easy to do. The flavours are fresh, clean, and vibrant, so it's good to have on a menu that features "heavier" flavours like curries.

Definitely a keeper.

Thai creations at [eatingclub] vancouver:
Pad Thai (Tamarind Series, Post #1)
Waterfall Beef Salad
Thai Basil Stir-fry
Thai-marinated Fried Chicken (and the Ultimate Compliment)
Thai Meatballs
Thai Basil Tofu Stir-fry

[eatingclub] vancouver dishes inspired by Food Safari episodes:
Spanish: Tortilla de Patatas
Thai: Waterfall Beef Salad
Lebanese: Tarator-style Sauce
Thai: Thai Basil Stir-Fry (gka prow)
Lebanese: Lamb Kafta (Turkish: Lamb Kofte)
Indonesian: Belado
Moroccan: Preserved Lemons
Moroccan: Chicken Tagine

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