Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beef Thai Salad at the 14&U Farmers Market

I've worked in two Thai restaurants in my life. The most recent experience was at Thai X-ing on 5th Street and Florida Avenue NW. Taw is the owner and chef of the restaurant. The restaurant had 8 seats total but had a mad, crazy take-out business. I started working there January of 2009. My then-boyfriend had just broken up with me and I was emotionally numb. The day after the break-up, I went to dinner with my roommate at Thai X-ing. We sat in a cluttered yet cozy corner where we had a narrow view of the kitchen. We were surrounded by drawing of tigers and books about art. Taw had opera playing and we could hear the phone ringing and orders being taken. The wait for the dinner was long but it was worth it. We dipped our spoons in the the Panang Chicken, tasted it, paused, and then looked at each other in amazement. It was the best Panang curry I had ever eaten.

After dinner, Taw came out and I casually asked him if he was willing to take on an apprentice. I was willing to cut, chop, clean in order to learn how to make that Panang curry. Turns out that Taw was in need of help and the next Saturday, I was there at 3pm to prep. It was the middle of winter and my hands became chapped from washing and chopping all the vegetables in the cold end of the kitchen. Taw liked the vegetables cut in triangle and he taught me about cutting things into the same size so that everything cooked evenly. Taw taught me to cook the curry for a long time so that the flavor of the spices were enhanced, add the coconut milk and let it stew some more. Taw taught me that the trick to a good curry is to cook the curry and coconut milk for a while and to add the meat and vegetables when needed. He taught me to always garnish. I left that kitchen every Saturday night dead tired, with chapped hands, with an aching back, and a little bit more whole as a person.

I don't think about the ex anymore but I do still think about all those Thai dishes I helped make. This is a very simple salad that packs a lot of flavor. The dressing is lime juice, minced garlic, sugar, and fish sauce. That is it. I decided not to add chili just because there are very few people I know who can take Thai chili heat. It can be added in the dressing if desired. I would serve this as an appetizer because the flavor is so strong, it would be a bit much for a whole entree.

Beef Thai Salad
Adapted from

1-lb London Broil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp fish sauce
5 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 head Bibb or Boston; or 1 heart of Romaine lettuce.
12 sprigs fresh mint (optional), remove the leaves and discard the stems
1 small cucumber (seeds removed), peeled and sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
3 or 4 sprigs cilantro, stems removed
Chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

Grill or broil the London Broil until medium-rare. Trim off any fat. Cool and slice thin, into pieces approx. 2 inches across and 1/8 inch thick.

Mix garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar in a small bowl. Add the sliced meat and toss with the cucumbers and shallots. Taste and add more fish sauce if desired.

Make a bed of the lettuce on a serving plate. Place the beef on top. Top with peanuts if desired. Garnish with cilantro.

The recipe actually called for Sirloin Steak but I used London Broil instead because it is a less expensive cut of meat. The intensity of the dressing will overpower the taste of the steak so there is no reason to spend a lot of money on sirloin steak when the London Broil will be just as good (and it was $4 less per lb.) The beef was from Pecan Meadows Farm, a vendor at the 14th and U Farmers Market.

Olga from Mango and Tomato, Alejandra from One Bite at a Time, and Tammy from Adventures of a Florida Girl in DC and I were invited to demo some summer recipes at the 14 and U Farmers Markets. We had an amazing time and were so happy share these recipes. Big thank you to Adventures in Shaw for getting the ball rolling and bringing us bloggers together. Below are the other dishes that were served at the demo.

Goat Cheesecake
Raw Beet and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese Medallions
Farmers Market Vegetable Confetti Salad with Champagne-Dijon Vinaigrette
No Bake Lasagna

1 comment:

  1. This dish looks incredible. I guess all that time and work at Thai X-ing paid off!