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Thai beef salad

I have been seriously overdoing it in the calorie intake department recently. Well, a lot of cake baking means a lot of cake eating. And the fact that I have re-emerged onto the social scene (i.e. I go out roughly once every two weeks! Whoo!) from the dark recesses of full time motherhood means alcohol and restaurants are now a fairly regular feature once more. Hooray indeed.

This dish is perfect for when you want food that is very healthy and low calorie but doesn’t feel like it is. It’s Adam’s recipe and one that he always cooks – until now. He stood by, arms folded, talking me through and criticising my ‘knife skills’ (I haven’t got any and I’m proud of that fact) the whole way through…. bloody back seat cook!

It would make a super starter when entertaining but we tend to eat it as a midweek healthy tea. You could give this to children but there isn’t much point unless they love chilli. You couldn’t make this without chilli. It would just be plain wrong. I know it seems like I have wimped out by only adding a 1/4 of a chilli, but remember this is a dressing not a sauce – i.e. it’s raw, so it hits pretty hard!

This recipe is a great way to get more from your meat – you only need one steak for two people. You could try using fresh king prawns or chicken thighs instead of beef.

Obviously this isn’t a suitable recipe for kids – unless you omit the chillies – but then it’s just not the same. It’s a great one for date night though, or for entertaining friends.

Serves: 2 people
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 4 minutes (plus 2 minutes rest time)
Total time: 11 minutes


For the dressing:

1/4 of a hot chilli, finely chopped
4 or 5 dessertspoons of Thai fish sauce
Juice of about 1 – 1 1/2 limes
2 teaspoons of sugar (palm sugar or unrefined caster sugar are ideal)

For the salad:
1/2 a chinese leaf lettuce, finely shredded (use iceberg if you can’t find this)
Handful of basil, chopped roughly
Large bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
1 small cucumber peeled, halved, seeds scraped out and sliced finely
About 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
About 4 or 5 spring onions, sliced finely
2 shallots, finely sliced (use red onions if you can’t get shallots)

The meat: 
1 good quality steak, rib eye, fillet or sirloin (we used rib eye)
Vegetable oil


  1. First make the dressing. Dissolve your sugar into your lime juice. Add your fish sauce and chilli and taste. Adjust to your preference and set aside. You might like it really hot or a bit saltier; the above amounts are simply how we like it. The flavours you want to achieve a balance of are: saltiness, sweetness, sourness and heat.
  2. Chop and combine your salad ingredients, but don’t dress it yet.
  3. Heat your pan to smoking. Rub a very small amount of oil on your steak on both sides. When your pan is ready, and is actually smoking with heat, pop on your steak and don’t mess with it until a minute has passed. Flip it and remove after one more minute. Don’t be tempted to cook it for longer; it needs to be rare for this recipe. Remember that the dressing will cook it further too. Rest it for a couple of minutes. Slice thinly and pour the juices into your dressing mix.
  4. Combine your dressing, salad and meat. Try it. If you like it sharper, sweeter, saltier or hotter – now is your time to fiddle until it’s just right. Adam doused his with even more fish sauce but I left mine alone save for a small squeeze of lime…
>> Check out more beef recipes!

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