Jun 16, 2009

vietnamese steak salad

been wanting steak lately. it's corn season. (when it's warm outside i only want to eat vietnamese/cambodian food for some reason). in vietnam and cambodia, they are expert at salads and grilled meats, warm weather foods. the table salads and dipping sauces make vietnamese and cambodian dishes an incredible sensation of salty sour sweet hot and fresh and crunchy. liberal use of cilantro, shallots, fish sauce, brown sugar, garlic and lime in this cuisine. some of my favorites. 

anyway if you put all this into my menu generating computer (brain) you will come up with vietnamese steak salad. my family goes crazy for this. in fact they just eat and murmer "this is so good this is so good" over and over again. (they are easily pleased).

important note: in this recipe marinate the meat AFTER it is grilled or seared

vietnamese steak salad
serves 4
12 oz mixed salad greens, Tat Soi is my favorite, similar in appearance to baby spinach, yet sweeter and more tender. butter lettuce, baby romaine, green leaf, mixed blends, lots will work here, you need something a little sturdier than mache and something not quite so crunchy as full grown romaine, even baby spinach can be a bit tough, i use it in the mix sometimes, but not as the main green. 

1 generous cup tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, sliced 
1 cup cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, washed and dried, stems removed

wash and dry greens. lay out on a large platter.
arrange cucumbers, tomatoes, onions on top of greens
top with cilantro leaves
set aside while you prepare the steak

next, mix the dressing in a measuring cup
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 TBSP minced cilantro stems 
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
2 TBSP brown sugar

next get out the steak
16 to 20oz of filet mignon (could use flank steak here or rib eye, or a few other cuts that are tender enough when sliced thinly across the grain after cooking)

cut the filet into pieces, generously sized hunks, at least 2 inches wide and 2 inches long. salt and pepper. heat a copper or other saute pan or grill. sear meat on all sides until nicely browned. center can be left quite rare or medium rare, as the lime juice in the dressing marinade will "cook" it further. as soon as meat is browned, remove from heat and allow it to rest briefly. slice into thin slices on a cutting board and then place it in a bowl. 

pour the dressing/marinade over the meat. allow to rest for 3 to 4 minutes in the marinade/dressing. while last minute table preparations are done. remove from dressing, arrange on top of salad greens. drizzle the remaining dressing over the greens. 

serve at once. maybe with some fresh sweet corn and mini brown jasmine rice, or something else lovely. enjoy the sounds of your tablemates enjoying the salad.


  1. Hi Gretchen,

    I'm new to your blog and love it. What cuts of beef do you think will work for this recipe? I'm new to cooking red meat for my family, and I often seem to have trouble with picking cuts that are too tough (maybe because we try to only buy grass-fed, which has such wonderful flavor but less of that forgiving marbling).

  2. Welcome and thanks for your lovely comment Molly. I recommend filet mignon because it is the one cut i get the most consistent results with. rib eye or flank steak or sirloin could work, but it is more of a gamble on flavor and texture. Filet is so expensive that we only eat it once every few months. but so enjoyable when we do, and that is what i am going for, special experience with no worries about the meat.