They don’t actually eat thai beef salad in Thailand, as I understand, since it’s primarily a vegetarian country. So treat this as a starter recipe and doctor as you like. The key is the balance of salty/sour/funky/spicy/bitter from the fish sauce, lime juice, peppers and aromatics. Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as an entree with some rice on the side.
½ lb good sirloin or flank steak, broiled or grilled to your liking but no more than medium rare
juice of one fat lime, about 2 T
1 T fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
½ c aromatic herbs such as mint, cilantro or shiso leaves or a combination, finely chopped
2 c red or green cabbage, finely chopped
1 T simple syrup (optional, see note)
Method: prepare steak and allow to cool to room temperature on a plate. Add all other ingredients to a glass or metal bowl along with the juice from the steak and toss to mix thoroughly. Slice steak thin and lay on top. Serve immediately; unlike most of my slaws, this does not benefit from sitting around.
NOTE: some Thai chefs like to add a bit of sweetness, in the form of simple syrup, to offset the feral jungle funk of this dish. The syrup also adds a nice glaze to the components. To do this, combine 1 c white sugar and 1 c water in a saucepan. Heat slowly to a boil and turn off heat immediately. Stir to dissolve sugar as needed. Cool and add to taste; the rest will keep indefinitely stored in a jar.