Recipe: Isaan-Style Grilled Beef Salad


Note: From northeast Thailand, yums are hearty, volcanic salads of meat or seafood in a bracing, herb-laced chile-lime dressing. They're served at room temperature with drinks and, unlike most savory Thai dishes, they're not eaten with rice. This yum ("yum neua yahng nahm toke" in Thai), from Nancy McDermott's "Real Thai: The Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking" (Chronicle Books: 1992), includes the crunch of roasted rice powder, a rustic, northeastern Thai trademark added for its texture and fragrance. Traditionally, rice powder is made with sticky rice, the "daily bread" of Laos and northeastern Thailand, but any type of raw rice can be used.

1 (1 pound) rib-eye or flank steak, grilled rare

1/3 cup chicken stock

Several lettuce leaves

2 small cucumbers, peeled and sliced crosswise into ovals

5 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 bunch fresh mint

3 green onions, thinly sliced crosswise

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons Roasted Rice Powder

1 teaspoon coarsely ground dried red chile

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup fish sauce

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Thinly slice beef crosswise into 2-inch-long strips and set aside.

Bring chicken stock to gentle boil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add sliced beef and turn occasionally, moistening and warming steak in stock, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.

Prepare small serving platter with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and few sprigs mint, then set aside.

Add green onions, shallots, cilantro, roasted rice powder, chile, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice to saucepan. Toss well. Taste dressing, and adjust to taste with additional fish sauce, lime juice, sugar or chiles.

Transfer beef to serving platter using slotted spoon. Mount on lettuce leaves. Drizzle with additional dressing. Garnish with cucumber, tomatoes and mint. Serve at once, warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Each of 4 servings contains about: 187 calories; 806 mg sodium; 43 mg cholesterol; 7 grams fat; 12 grams carbohydrates; 20 grams protein; 0.66 gram fiber.

Roasted Rice Powder

1/4 cup raw glutinous rice or other raw rice

Place rice in small skillet over high heat and dry-fry until grains are wheaty golden brown. Shake pan back and forth frequently to turn grains and brown evenly, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

When rice is cool, transfer to jar, seal tightly and keep at room temperature until needed. To use in recipes, transfer roasted rice to heavy mortar and pestle and pound to coarse powder, or grind in coffee or spice grinder. Ideal texture is midway between sand and powder, with discernible crunch. Makes about 1/4 cup.