Sunday 13 January 2008

Asian beef salad

If like me, you have lapsed into an episode of self-loathing when finding your favourite pair of jeans are just too snug, and when convincing yourself being "buxom" and "voluptuous" equate to Nigella-esque domestic goddessness just isn't cutting it anymore (I mean, how many of us are blessed enough to pull off a waist to hip ratio like that?!), then it's time to put those holiday treats away, exercise 30 minutes a day and eat a more balanced and low-caloric diet because it is time to come to terms that the season of gluttonous eating is well and truly over.

Admittedly, this colourful Asian beef salad consists of more components and takes a little longer to prepare than say, a grilled smoked cheese sandwich but I assure you it has health benefits surpassing the latter.

You will need the following ingredients. I have included suggested quantities as a guideline but these may be adjusted to your taste.

  • 200g beef rump, tenderloin or sirloin cooked rare; seasoned with salt and cracked pepper and sealed on a very hot pan for approximately a minute on each side, allow to rest in salad dressing (see below) before slicing finely
  • 50g dry mung bean thread or rice vermicelli (both available at Asian supermarkets), blanched in boiling water, drain well and set aside
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large chilli (NOT the bird's eye variety unless you like the extra heat), finely chopped
  • small knob of ginger, finely grated
  • 3 generous sprigs of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 3 sprigs of fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • juice from 2 medium limes
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2-3 tablespoons nuoc mam (fish sauce)
  • about a tablespoon brown or palm sugar
  • 1 medium carrot, julienne/grated
  • 1 lebanese cucumber, julienne
  • half a head of red coral lettuce, torn into small manageable pieces
  • 1 medium granny smith apple (or any tart and crisp variety like pink lady and sundowner), julienne
  • handful of crushed dry roasted peanuts

To make the salad dressing, I sauteed the garlic, chilli and ginger in the pan previously used to seal the steak. This step is quite crucial as it releases the aromatics from the spices and takes away the raw flavour of the garlic. Following this, the pan is deglazed with the citrus juices and the fish sauce before the sugar is added to taste. Remove from heat and place the seared meat in this dressing, allowing the aromatic flavours to permeate it as it rests.

To assemble the salad, toss the julienne of vegetable and apple along with the roughly torn salad leaves, chopped hearbs and cooked vermicelli in a large bowl. Dress lightly with the salad dressing and decant unto a serving dish. Finely slice the meat and carelessly toss on top of prepared salad bed. Garnish with crushed peanuts and extra coriander and there you have it - a refreshingly crisp, flavoursome and healthful salad.

Eat it and I promise you will begin to feel more positive about everything - including yourself!