Say it with flowers or a Thai beef salad.

A post Valentine’s Day post.

Picture1Roses are red, violets are blue…and blue is exactly what I’m feeling this Valentine’s. My husband has gone away for three weeks to the North Pole – OK not exactly the North Pole but it’s around -20°C where he is at the moment. While he is freezing away in icy cold Canada I’m basking in the warmth of the beautiful winter sun in Dubai, and as a virtual Valentine’s Day surprise, I thought of making one of his favourite dishes – a Thai beef salad. 

I love Thai salads. They fall into 4 main categories based on the way they are prepared, which are Yam, Tam, Lap and Phla (trust me, I didn’t know this till I started writing this post. Follow this link to Wikipedia to read more about it). I particularly like the Lap salads – crunchy veg and morsels of juicy, tender meat tossed in a perfectly balanced sweet-sour-salty dressing, light and refreshing yet bursting with flavour. I won’t call myself a connoisseur of Thai food (my interest in the subject hasn’t gone beyond shovelling the delicious stuff into my mouth) but I do make two killer Thai salads, if I do say so myself – the beef salad and a chicken salad in peanut dressing. I have my doubts about the origins of the latter but it doesn’t really matter because it tastes so good.

And here’s my Thai beef salad, in pictures…

DSC_1905It all starts with fresh ingredients…

DSC_1868And my five year old who insisted I put this pic in my post.

DSC_1870Mise en place…shredding fresh papaya. There’s an easy way to do this, all you need is a sharp knife and a vegetable peeler (check out this video on how to get perfect, crisp papaya strips).

DSC_1901A beautiful sirloin steak which has been marinating overnight…

Picture9Freshly roasted peanuts and fresh mint from my balcony garden…

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Picture8After some shredding, chopping, pounding, grilling and mixing…voilà!

DSC_1947My Thai beef salad, bursting with colour, flavour and freshness! This one’s for you honey! x

Celebrating Valentine’s Day is not at the top of my To-Do list but I do miss my husband. After the first couple of years of your marriage your spouse becomes very much a part of you. I wish I had a better reference, but it’s like your favourite sweater – familiar and comforting and something you simply cannot live without. We are on our ninth year now so I do feel his absence, even though he’s gone for only three weeks.

Well…here’s to our ninth Valentine’s together and many more to come! Chin-chinOh, and hubs please don’t be offended by the favourite sweater reference – the one I’m talking about is gorgeously luxurious and cashmere xx

PS: Valentine’s Day was not so bad after all as I still had my other Valentine to celebrate it with. And boy did we celebrate…we made heart shaped cards and went out for Italian and had his first taste of lasagna (he’s been pestering me for lasagna after watching Garfield wolf down copious amounts of it on TV). The day ended with my Valentine saying ‘Mummy I want to give you a ‘Balentime’s Day’ kiss’ and planting a big sloppy one on my cheek.

PPS: Hubs came back from the cold bearing loads of maple syrupy goodies and something quite unusual – Icewine tea (more on that later). Happy days!


Thai Beef Salad
adapted from a recipe by Darlene Schmidt

1 to 2 sirloin steaks, depending on the amount of meat you prefer.
Marinade:
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
2 tbsp brown sugar

For the salad:
1 large bowl salad greens
1 cup bean sprouts
handful of fresh mint or basil leaves, lightly chopped or torn
1 cup fresh coriander
1 cup fresh papaya, cubed or cut into spears (see video above on how to shred papaya)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, left whole or sliced in half

Dressing:
1-2 tbsp fish sauce (available at Asian food stores)
3 tbsp lime or lemon juice
1+1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 fresh red chillies, chopped
2 tbsp toasted and ground sticky rice,or 2 tbsp roasted, ground peanuts (I used peanuts)

Mix marinade ingredients together in a cup or bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour over the steak(s), turning meat to coat. Set in the refrigerator to marinate (you can leave it overnight).

For the ground sticky rice (if using, instead of peanuts): Place 2 tbsp uncooked sticky rice in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat. Stirring continuously, dry-fry the rice until it starts to pop and is lightly toasted. Remove rice from the pan and allow to cool slightly before grinding it up with a coffee grinder, or pounding into a powder with pestle & mortar.

Combine all dressing ingredients together in a cup or mixing bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves (adjust fish sauce and lime juice according to your desired taste). Then prepare the bowl of greens and other salad ingredients.

Grill the steak over a hot grill, turning only once or twice to retain the juices (meat should still be pink in the centre).

While steak is cooking, toss the salad with the dressing. Taste-test for salt, adding more fish sauce if not salty enough, or more lime juice if too salty for your taste.

When ready to serve, portion out salad onto serving plates or bowls. Slice the steak as thinly as possible and top each portion with a generous amount of sliced sirloin and a sprinkling of ground rice or peanuts.

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