This recipe was prompted following a chat with a friend and neighbour who has just moved to Singapore for work reasons.
While I don’t envy him the constant 30°c average temperature and very high humidity, plentiful rainfall and thunderstorms, and the fact your back garden might be a jungle, I do envy him the melting pot of food cultures that meet up in this island city-state.
From Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Indian, Thai, Sri Lankan and a sprinkling of Middle Eastern and European food cultures around, it must be a foodie’s tropical paradise - if you can stand the heat.
So this is a fresh, vibrant Thai based salad that goes down well, even in the scorching Scottish summer climate of cold, wet and grey.
It stands up well on its own as a lovely vegetarian dish, but I am serving it with some seared steak, a classic combination.
My favourite steak cut at the moment (and has been for some time) is Flat Iron steak, which is cut from the shoulder area of the animal. It is definitely worth asking your butcher for, seeking out online or finding in supermarkets like Waitrose, Morrisons or Sainsbury’s.
It’s a relatively small steak, flat and rectangular, shaped like an old fashioned iron, hence the name, and is superb chargrilled for this dish.
It is about half the price of sirloin and cheaper than rump, but is has a rich flavour and is very tender when cooked quickly to no more than medium doneness. It’s a well-marbled cut of beef and it is this marbling that gives it its tenderness.
Make sure you rest it well (about 5 minutes) after frying and slice it against the grain. (See foodie chat)
As is common with dishes from Southeast Asia, the combination of sweet and sour, and salty and spicy is all there. The textures of soft beef and fruit with crunchy vegetables, peanuts and beansprouts really make this a joy to eat.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6)
For the salad
For the salad
- 2 ripe mangoes
- Bunch of mint
- Bunch of coriander
- 1 small red onion
- 1 red pepper
- 1 large carrot
- 100g bean sprouts
- 3 spring onions
- 1-2 red chillies (depending how spicy you like it), deseeded
- 100g roasted salted peanuts (rinse the salt off before using)
- 4 flat iron steaks (about 200g each)
For the dressing
- Juice of 6 limes
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp Thai chilli sauce (½ tsp if you don't want it too hot)
Very finely slice (julienne) the carrot, red pepper, spring onions, red onion and red chillies into thin strips.
Chop the mint and coriander and peel and cut the mango into strips.
Place all the above into a large bowl, mix, cover and set aside until you make the dressing and sear the beef.
Mix all the dressing ingredients together and stir around until the sugar has dissolved.
Heat a griddle or frying pan until very hot.
Rub your Flat Iron steak, or steak of your choice, with a little vegetable oil on both sides, season well with salt, and sear in the hot pan for about 4 minutes each side, depending on the thickness, until medium/rare to medium.
While the steak is resting, pour some of the dressing over the salad and combine. You will probably be left with dressing, but it can be kept in the fridge, covered for a day or so.
Thinly slice the steak against the grain (see foodie chat), and either mix the slices into the salad and serve, or pile onto individual plates and layer slices of steak over the top.
And if you want to make it more authentic, you could try eating it in a sauna and pretending you're in Singapore.