Thai Beef Noodle Salad
Updated: Aug 12
I've never been a big red meat eater...
The only red meat I've ever really felt a weakness for had been mince meat drenched in a tasty tomato-based pasta sauce complemented by aromatic Italian herbs such as basil, oregano and marjoram. NOT ONCE in my whole life time have I ordered a steak in a restaurant, NOT ONCE did I get excited whenever my mum cooked us steak for dinner, "Argh!" I would groan (poor mum/ungrateful child). Throughout my 20's I had wrestled on and off with the idea of becoming a vegetarian to support animal welfare. I can quite easily omit meat from my diet (and actually did for a while) without giving it a second thought, but as my energy and mood decreased I decided that my body did feel better when I was consuming some animal protein and started to include poultry and fish in my diet.
However, now that I'm in a relationship with a complete carnivore, worn down by his whinging and pining for red meat instead of my preference to cook with chicken or fish night after night (and he's averse to eating anything completely vegetarian...I'm working on it though), I have found myself making the ultimate compromise by integrating a little ethically sourced red meat back into our weekly menu to shut him up (and also because my own aversion has been weakened by his delicious, slow cooked camp dinners, but I won't admit that to him!).
So how can I get excited about cooking red meat, other than just beef mince, part of our weekly menu? It was time to think outside the box and get some ideas (if I'm in my creative mode, I will try anything for the sake of experimentation). I absolutely adore the flavours of Thai cuisine and after trying a sample of my sister's Thai Beef Salad while out at a cafe in Melbourne I was inspired to have a crack at making my own. Doing a recipe search online I found most recipes to use quite a bit of sugar in the sauce which the health conscious side of me was reluctant to do. One recipe that I tried had so much raw chilli and onion in it that I agonised through every determined mouthful so that my food didn't go to waste. For us, less of these foods is definitely more and I prefer the chilli cooked! Since my recent discovery of the ability of fresh orange juice with vinegars to jazz up a salad, I was keen to experiment and see if I could do the same for a Thai Beef Salad. Surprisingly, mixed in with the lime juice and zest, it added a delightfully fresh and citrus flavour (along with loads of vitamin C and antioxidant bioflavonoids) to the herbalicious Thai sauce. What's more, the beef steaks, cooked to rare and sliced into very thin pieces, absorbed the flavours of the sauce beautifully, leaving us both wanting more. For this recipe, I just used rice noodles bought at the local supermarket for convenience, but I have seen brown rice noodles and pumpkin and brown rice noodles available at the health food store which would make this recipe even more nutritious than it already is. Loaded in protein, potent phytonutrients, iron, zinc, B vitamins, vitamin C and bioflavonoids, this meal certainly delivers on providing nutrition to support the health of your body and mind.
Thai Beef Noodle Salad
500g of grass-fed rump beef
1/4 cup of raw cashews
1 whole chilli, chopped finely
1/4 red onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped finely
1 tsp of grated fresh ginger
1 handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely
1 handfull of fresh basil leaves, chopped finely
1 handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped finely
1 tbs of tamari sauce
1 tbs of fish sauce
Juice from 1 half of an orange (about 1/4 cup)
2 tbs of lime juice
2 pinches of lime zest
200-250g of rice vermicelli or rice stick noodles
Take beef steaks out of the fridge to allow them to come up up to room temperature, up to an hour before cooking.
Place noodles into a large heatproof bowl and cover with plenty of boiling water. Set aside for 5 minutes to soak. Drain well.
Drizzle sesame oil into a pan, add garlic, ginger, and chilli and cook on high heat for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add a pinch of sea salt, lime zest and cashews. Cook for an extra minute and then remove and add to a large bowl.
Further add lime and orange juice, tamari sauce, fish sauce, onion and herbs to the large bowl and toss altogether create sauce base.
Brush beef steaks with sesame or virgin olive oil and season with a little lime zest and sea salt. Heat a large pan and then cook each side for about 2 minutes each for rare (or to your preference).
Remove steaks from pan onto a chopping board, allow a few minutes to rest.
Using your sharpest knife (careful of your fingers), slice into very thin pieces.
Add noodles and beef to the sauce and using tongs, gently toss until all the ingredients are combined.
Divide among serving bowls and enjoy!