Spicy Thai Steak Salad with Crispy Pot Rice


I know I know, it’s been a few. Between work trips, planning my high school reunion, some big life changes, then a super clutch vacation, it’s been a little hectic in the Triniwood house. 

I’m a total kitchen dork though, so most of my time laying by the pool was spent reading Grant Achetz and Eric Ripert’s memoirs, and some cookbooks. I couldn’t wait to get home and do what I love again. 

This recipe was adapted from Food52’s A New Way To Dinner. This cookbook is one of my favorites I’ve read in awhile–all about how to repurpose a big batch of food you make on Sunday throughout the week, which (hello) is the whole thesis of this blog. The PERFECT dish for a hot summer day like today was. A key feature of Thai cuisine is that it incorporates all taste sensations–salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and savory. And this dish more than delivers on all fronts. Alex told me that he would “totally order it from a restaurant,” which was probably the weirdest compliment I’ve ever gotten.

You’ll Need:

Thai Beef Salad

  • Flank steak (also called London Broil, Top Sirloin’s good too)
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 red Thai chiles, seeded and stemmed (a habanero or a Serrano would work too)
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar (I used sugar in the raw)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/3 cup of fish sauce (Don’t be scared. It’s delicious! Find it in the Asian section of the grocery store. Soy sauce would work too)
  • 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • A big handful of cilantro and/or basil, rough chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Arugula, romaine, or spring mix

Crispy Pot Rice

  • 2 1/2 cups of basmati rice, rinsed and drained (the skinny delicious kind you see at India and Mediterranean restaurants. Look in your grocery’s Asian or bulk sections)
  • 1/3 a cup of plain yogurt (ehhh who even has plain yogurt, just use Greek yogurt thinned out with a splash of water)
  • 5 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Method

  1. Pat the steak dry with paper towels and lay it out on the plate on a counter so it comes to room temperature while you cook. This is weird, but we aren’t going to season this steak before cooking (!!!). Flank steaks are relatively thin and usually cook through by the time you get a good crust. Instead of rubbing a bunch of moist flavoring on the steak before we cook (which inhibits browning and carmelization) we’re gonna cook it naked and season after. It’s crazy. You’re gonna have to trust me.
  2. Use a mortar and pestle, a mini food processor, or a spice grinder to turn the garlic, chiles, and sugar into a paste. Place it in a large bowl with the lime juice, fish sauce, and salt. Taste and add more salt if needed or a splash of vinegar if you need more acidity. Toss in the cilantro/basil, scallions, and onions.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil then add the basmati rice. Reduce the temp to where it’s still actively simmering, give it a good stir, and let it cook for about 5-7 minutes. Drain in a fine colander, then pour in a bowl and mix with the yogurt, 3 tablespoons of oil, and a couple dashes of salt. Taste and add more salt if needed. The rice should be pretty close to tasting “done,” soft and not too toothesome.
  4. While the rice is getting started, turn your oven on a high broil and move your rack to the highest position. If you have a meat thermometer, insert in the thickest part of the steak. Put the steak on a pan and place directly under the broiler, cooking for 3 minutes per side or until the thermometer reads 130 degrees. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes, then slice against the grain. This part’s important—the steak will be too chewy if you cut along the muscle. Toss the steak with the salad and let it set on the counter while the rice finishes, so the flavors can meld.
  5. Back to the rice. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven on medium high. Gently swirl the oil around them add the rice–you’ll hear it sizzle, so be careful to be gentle and not splatter oil on yourself! Use a spoon to spread the rice evenly and lightly pack down. Wrap the lid of the Dutch oven on a kitchen towel (this will absorb steam, keeping the rice from getting mushy) and cover the rice, careful to be sure no part of the the towel is touching the burner. Cook on medium high for 5 minutes, then reduce to low. Let cook for about 25 minutes, take off the heat, and let sit for another 5. Use a metal serving spoon or spatula to scrape every bit of the the crunchy brown rice off the bottom of the pot and toss around with the white rice. This is THE BEST part!! A nod to Hugh Acheson’s crispy rice I can’t stop talking about. I can never get enough crunchy rice.
  6. To assemble, plop a big scoop of rice on a plate along with some salad greens and some of the beef salad right on top. The spicy and acidic beef is going to taste so good with the savory rice, and the crunchy rice mixed throughout are just magic.

Remix The Dish: I plan on eating the salad all week as leftovers, on a baguette as a riff on a bahn mi sandwich. The rice goes with anything–it would taste amazing with stews, or maybe some sautéed greens and a fried egg for an easy dinner (or a weird breakfast I’d probably love).

Hearts on Hearts Salad, and a chat about making creamy dressings


So I’m aware this is kind of a non-recipe recipe. You guys aren’t morons, you know how to assemble a salad. So rather than give you a play by play on how I sliced the cherry tomatoes in half, I’m going to talk about the one interesting part of this dish–the cool, tangy, vegetal, creamy yet super healthy and guilt-free dressing I made for this salad by blending up a couple of jars of hearts of palm with Greek yogurt.

Wait, what?!

Greek yogurt is great, but would be bland AF as a salad dressing without a little help from its friends. This works out perfectly with hearts of palm, a delicious but strange (and expensive!) little veggie that I never can seem to get enough of. By turning it into a creamy dressing, you get a hit of heart of palm flavor in ever single bite of your salad.

Here’s my general formula for making a greek yogurt sauce:

Greek Yogurt + Veggies + Pop of Flavor + Oil + Acid

Here are some examples:

Greek Yogurt + Jalapenos + Cilantro + Olive Oil + Lime Juice

Greek Yogurt + Roasted Red Peppers + Garlic + Avocado Oil + Red Wine Vinegar

Greek Yogurt + Roasted Shallots + Roasted Garlic + Olive Oil + Lemon Juice

Greek Yogurt + Sun Dried Tomatoes + Shallots + Walnut Oil + Balsamic Vinegar

Greek Yogurt + Mandarin Oranges and/or Pineapple + Honey + Coconut Butter + Yuzu (imagine that on fruit salad or cinnamon pita chips!)

Greek Yogurt + that yummy leftover green sofrito we made the other day + Olive Oil + Lime Juice

On all these bad boys, its important to TASTE after you blend. At that point, you’ll know how much salt and pepper it needs, and how much water or liquid you should splash in to thin it out and make it the right texture. (Or, hell you could leave it thick and use it as a chip or veggie dip instead).

You’ll Need:

  • 2 cans of hearts of palm
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt (regular, 2%, or fat free are all fine)
  • Zest and juice of 2 limes (if you don’t have a microplane, seriously wtf you’re a grown ass adult. Just kidding. Just the juice is totally cool).
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Romaine lettuce, whole (hearts and leafy greens)
  • Bacon
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced pepperocini or banana peppers

Method

  1. We’re going to start by crisping up the bacon, since that step will take the longest. Take the entire mass of bacon out of the vacuum pack and slice into 1/2 inch strips, crosswise. Throw it in a skillet on MEDIUM LOW heat, and SLOWLY render out the fat until its all brown and crunchy AF, stirring every few minutes and using a wooden spoon to break up the stacked bacon pieces. This is going to take awhile, 20-25 minutes to do it right. You’re going to look at it 10-12 minutes in and panic because it will look more like Canadian bacon (gross) than delicious deep rosey brown crunchy stuff we all know and love. But trust ya girl Chelsea, this is the guaranteed way to get it completely rendered, crispy, and perfect.
  2. While the bacon is frying, making the dressing. Open up the cans of the hearts of palm (reserving the liquid) and roughly chop each piece into 2 or 3 pieces. Go ahead and snag a few bites, hearts of palm make delicious snacks–basically log-shaped artichokes! Toss them all in the blender, then add the Greek yogurt, the lime zest, the lime juice, 4-5 good glugs of olive oil, a pinch of salt, several grinds of pepper, and a small splash of the reserved heart of palm liquid from the cans (for extra hearty palmy flavor). Give it a good blend, and after about a minute, stop the blender to scrape down the sides and taste. From there, use your senses to see whether it needs more salt, pepper, or liquid to thin it out. Blend until smooth, pour in a couple mason jars, and chill in the fridge until you’re ready. This dressing will keep for a week or so, and tastes awesome on anything…more on that later.
  3. Chop up a head of romaine. I’m the waste not want not type, so I used everything from the leafy greens to the very end of the heart. Plus it gives your salad lots of color and textural contrast. Measure out however much lettuce you’ll need in a bowl, and throw the rest in a plastic bag to use later.
  4. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. You can figure this one out yourself.
  5. The bacon should be about done! Turn off the stove and use a slotted spoon to scoop the bacon out of the sizzling oil, onto a stack of paper towels to drain. Let the bacon fat cool for about 20 minutes, then pour it into a mason jar and throw in the fridge or freezer to use at a later time. You definitely don’t want to waste that flavor goldmine. If you have extra bacon bits, they keep well in the fridge too. They won’t be as snappy, but will still taste awesome.
  6. Sprinkle the bacon, tomatoes, and peppers on top of the lettuce and drizzle it with the heart of palm dressing. The tangy and spicy peppers play off the fresh and mild romaine, the salty bacon compliments the sweet tomatoes, and the heart of palm dressing brightens the whole thing.

Remix this dish: make this a complete meal by adding grilled or rotisserie chicken! The heart of palm dressing is super versatile—use it in place of sour cream on tacos, use as a dressing in potato or pasta salad, drizzle over gazpacho or any warm veggie puree soup as a garnish, use as a sauce on grilled meats and fish. The bacon fat is great for making vinaigrettes, for sauteing veggies, or while searing meats for braises.