In addition to her cookbook library, my mother has a vast collection of old Bon Appetit issues, with recipes she likes marked in pen. One of her favorites is this salad, which uses the Vietnamese flavors of lime, cilantro, mint, and fish sauce.
This recipe looks complicated because it includes a lot of ingredients, but there actually aren’t that many steps involved.
Yield: 12 servings
Total Time: Unknown
- 2 tbsp peanut oil (or a neutral-flavored vegetable oil if you’re allergic to peanuts)
- 1 1/2 lbs beef flank or sirloin steak, cut into 2 ieces
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
- 1/4 cup fish sauce/nam pla
- 1/4 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
- 1 jalapeno chili, minced
- 1/2 head green leaf lettuce, separated into leaves
- 3 tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 2 cucumbers, peeled & thinly sliced
- 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
- 2 limes, cut in wedges
1. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add a piece of steak and half of the garlic to skillet.
2. Cook until steak is brown on both sides, about 6 minutes, then transfer it to platter.
3. Repeat steps 1-2 with remaining steak and garlic.
4. Let meat cool slightly, then cut it across the grain into 1/4 inch wide strips.
For Dressing: Whisk lime juice, cilantro, mint, fish sauce, sugar, and jalapeno together in a large bowl.
1. Add steak to dressing bowl and toss to combine.
2. Arrange half the lettuce on a large platter. If you want to be decorative, cut remaining lettuce into fine shreds and arrange them in the center of the platter; arrange tomatoes overlapping each other around the outside border; and place cucumbers and onions in overlapping concentric circles inside the tomatoes.
3. Using a slotted spoon, mound the steak in on the center of the plate, leaving the dressing in the bowl.
4. Spoon remaining dressing over the vegetables and meat, garnish with lime wedges, and serve.
The salad can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead. If you do, cover salad and dressing separately with plastic and refrigerate them.