Thai Beef Salad
This Thai Beef Salad is loaded with marinated beef, lots of fresh herbs, crunchy vegetables and a light dressing. It’s bursting with delicious fresh flavour and so tasty. This salad is Dairy Free, Grain Free, Gluten Free, Paleo, Whole30 and Specific Carbohydrate Diet Legal.
This Thai Beef salad is inspired by the two weeks SA and I spent in Cambodia and Thailand. It was one of the best trips we have been on to date (which has included over 30 countries). Everything was perfect. Beautiful beaches, amazing hotels, kind people, incredible sites and the food….oh the food.
I had heard a lot about how amazing the food is in Thailand, but was still skeptical. I anticipated falling in love with the spicy chicken, prawn, vegetable and soup dishes for the first few nights, but 2 meals a day and 10 days of 35 degree heat later, I was sure I would be over it and yearning for something with less spice. I couldn’t have been more wrong. By the time we left, I was addicted and searching out Thai restaurants back in London we could visit.
Some of my favourite dishes include green curry, papaya salad and Lok Lak, a spicy peppered beef dish. The salads were also incredible and the combination of lime, mint, ginger and chili transformed even the most boring cucumber and lettuce salad into a feast for the senses.
This Thai Beef Salad is a take on a dish I ate almost every day at our hotel in Koh Lanta. The beef is marinated in ginger, garlic and fish sauce for a minimum of 20 minutes but preferably overnight to give it time to tenderize and absorb all of the flavours. The beef is then grilled and added (either hot or cold) to a salad of lettuce, red onion, finely chopped peanuts, cucumber, tomatoes, chilies and lots and lots of mint. It is not only packed with flavour, it’s also a gorgeous dish when plated and it smells amazing too.
WHY YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE THIS THAI BEEF SALAD
- This isn’t your average salad, every bite is loaded with fresh, spicy, sweet, crunchy, refreshing and salty flavour, it’s so delicious!
- After marinating the beef, the entire salad comes together in less than 20 minutes, making it the perfect meal for weeknight dinner.
- You can enjoy the aromatic flavours of Thai cuisine in your own home! It really does taste just like a salad you can order in Thailand or at your favourite local Thai restaurant.
- This is a hearty salad that even hungry carnivores will find satisfying.
- This salad is easily adaptable depending on what ingredients you have. It is also Paleo, Gluten Free, Grain Free and Dairy Free and can easily be adapted to be Whole30 too!
WHAT’S IN THIS THAI BEEF SALAD
- Lettuce: I prefer using shredded romaine as I find that it holds up well under the weight of all of the other salad toppings.
- Tomatoes: I recommend using cherry tomatoes for the best flavour.
- Red Onion: Thinly sliced red onion can be swapped for shallots which has a more mild flavour.
- Beef: Use sirloin, ribeye, tenderloin or flank. After grilling the meat be sure to cut it against the grain for maximum tenderness.
- Mint: The mint plays a big role in making the salad light and fresh in flavour.
- Cilantro: I am a big fan of cilantro, but if you do not like the taste you can add more mint in its place or alternatively add in Thai Basil.
- Peanuts: I prefer using roasted and salted peanuts, if you do not eat legumes they can be substituted for salted cashews instead.
- Chilies: Red Thai Chilies add a real kick of spice to this salad. I recommend removing the seeds as they are what make the chili extremely spicy. If you can’t find red thai chilies you can use fresno or serrano peppers in their place.
WHAT’S IN THE DRESSING?
The dressing is multi purpose and used as both a dressing and marinade for the beef. It contains just a few ingredients that are common in Thai cooking. I recommend blending all of the dressing/marinade ingredient together in a food processor or blender until smooth. You will need:
- Ginger: I am a lover of ginger so I like to add a big chunk to this dressing. Because the ginger is blended in a food processor/blender a great time saving tip is to not worry about peeling the ginger before adding it in, the skin is so thin that it becomes undetectable and adds extra fibre.
- Garlic: use whole cloves rather than jarred for the best flavour. 4 cloves may sound like a lot but they are what gives this marinade a strong flavour.
- Honey: I prefer using honey in this dressing but you could alternatively use maple syrup (which would still make this salad Paleo). If you aren’t on a specific diet you could use a different sweetener of choice such as stevia, coconut sugar or agave.
- Coconut Aminos: use coconut aminos if you are on a soy free diet, otherwise soy sauce or tamari (gluten free soy sauce) can be used in its place.
- Lime: for the best flavour use fresh lime rather than bottled.
- Sesame Oil
- Fish Sauce: A lot of people shy away from using fish sauce because of its strong smell, but it becomes almost undetectable when added into this dressing and simply adds a nice saltiness
WHAT’S THE BEST CUT OF BEEF TO USE IN THIS THAI BEEF SALAD
Any tender cut of beef would work well in this salad. I prefer using sirloin steak but rib-eye, striploin or tenderloin would also be delicious. If you would like to use a more affordable cut that’s big on flavour you could use skirt or hanger steak, just be sure to grill it properly and cut the beef against the grain to prevent it from being tough in texture.
HOW LONG SHOULD I MARINATE THE BEEF FOR
I recommend marinating the beef for a minimum of 20 minutes and up to 24 hours. If you are short on time, the beef will be delicious after just 20 minutes of marinating, but the longer you are able to marinate it for, the more flavourful it will be. Beef should not be left to marinade for longer than 24 hours because the acid (citrus or vinegar) in the marinade will begin to break down the fibers in the meat and cause it to become mushy in texture.
SHOULD THE BEEF BE ADDED TO THE SALAD HOT OR COLD?
This is completely up to you! After grilling the beef, I like to give it time to rest and cool to room temperature. before slicing it and adding it to the salad. If you are making this salad in advance you can cook the steak and store it in the fridge until time to serve. I would then recommend serving the steak cold or at room temperature rather then heating it up to ensure that the beef doesn’t become overcooked and tough.
IS THIS THAI BEEF SALAD SPICY?
The spice level of this salad can easily be modified depending on your preference for spice. The only ingredient in this Thai Beef Salad that is spicy is the red thai chilies which are sprinkled over the salad before serving, so you can modify the quantity and add as little or as much as you want.
IS THIS THAI BEEF SALAD WHOLE30?
This Thai Beef Salad is Whole30 with a few simple modifications. For the dressing omit the honey which is used as a sweetener or alternatively use a pitted medjool date which has been soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and add it to a food processor with the other marinade ingredients and blend until smooth. Peanuts are used as a garnish and should be substituted for chopped cashews (I prefer salted) to make this salad Paleo and Whole30.
WAYS TO MODIFY THIS THAI BEEF SALAD
If you aren’t a fan of beef you can substitute it for boneless chicken thighs, shrimp or pork which can all be marinated in the same dressing and grilled until cooked through. You can also add in other vegetables to the salad such as thinly sliced bell peppers, carrots, avocado or shallots.
CAN I MAKE THIS THAI BEEF SALAD IN ADVANCE?
You can prepare all of the different parts of this salad up to a day in advance and store them in the fridge (including the dressing). I don’t recommend assembling the salad and tossing it all in the dressing until right before serving. Although the beef tastes best right after cooking, you can marinate and grill it up to a day in advance and store it in the fridge until it’s time to serve.
WHAT ABOUT LEFTOVERS
Unfortunately once tossed in the dressing leftover salad will become quite mushy. If you don’t think that you will eat this entire salad in one sitting, I recommend leaving the dressing on the salad. The undressed salad and dressing can be stored in the fridge for up to a day.
Here are a few more Thai inspired recipes that you might enjoy…
- Thai Fish Cakes
- Spicy Thai Mango Salad
- Thai Basil Beef
- Tom Kha Gai
- Thai Watermelon Salad
- Green Papaya Salad
- Thai Chicken Larb Salad (Larb Gai)
- Thai Curry Noodle Soup
If you make this recipe let me know in the comment section below, I would love to hear what you think or take a photo and tag me (@everylastbite_) on Instagram, I love seeing your photos!
Thai Beef Salad
- 2 inch piece fresh ginger
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp honey (omit for Whole30)
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 tsp lime zest
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp coconut aminos finely diced
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 pound sirloin steak
- 5 cups romaine lettuce
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cucumber cut in half lengthwise and then thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts or cashews if paleo
- 1 red thai chili thinly sliced
- In a food processor or hand held mixer combine the ingredients for the marinade and process until well blended. Place the beef in a shallow bowl and pour 1/2 of the marinade overtop. Ensure both sides of the steak are well coated in the sauce and then transfer it to the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes and up to 6 hours. Transfer the other half of the marinade to the fridge to use later as dressing for the salad.
- To prepare the salad, on a large platter or in a big salad bowl add the romaine lettuce. Sprinkle overtop all of the herbs, and then arrange the sliced cucumber, red onion and cherry tomatoes overtop.
- Heat a barbeque or grilled pan until hot, add the steak and grill for 4 minutes per side until grill marks form and the steak is medium rare (or cook the steak longer if you prefer). Remove from the steak from the pan and leave it to rest for 5 minutes before thinly cutting it against the grain into strips
- Arrange the steak slices overtop of the salad and finally garnish with the chopped peanuts and sliced thai chili. Right before serving drizzle the remaining dressing overtop. Toss the salad and serve.