Thursday, March 12, 2009

Grilled Beef Salad with Lemongrass Dressing

If you like Vietnamese cuisine, you will love this salad. It has a very authentic and fresh taste.

One of the main ingredients in this salad is fish sauce. Fish sauce is an essential ingredient in many curries and sauces in Vietnamese cooking. It is a replacement for salt and has a very unique taste. If you are anything like me, the first time I heard of "fish sauce" I was a bit apprehensive. The thought of a condiment made from fermenting fish sounded neither appealing nor appetizing. Straight from the bottle, fish sauce does have a very strong and even offensive smell, but do not be afraid, it will transform your salad!

Fish sauce is available at your local grocery store in the Asian foods aisle. It will store easily in your refrigerator and you will not be sorry for your $4-6 investment in the bottle.

1/2 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons green onions, greens and whites chopped
2 teaspoons chile paste
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemongrass, peeled and finely chopped

1 pound flank steak
Freshly ground pepper
Cooking spray
4 cups napa (Chinese) cabbage
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup red onion, sliced thin to medium


1. Prepare your grill.

2. Combine all ingredients for dressing. Stir until sugar dissolves. Set aside. At this point, the dressing will be thick and will not look like a liquid dressing. While you are preparing the remainder of the ingredients, the dressing should liquefy.

3. Prepare salad by mixing together napa cabbage, red onions, and tomatoes. Notice I omitted the tomatoes. That is only because I cannot touch tomatoes with a nine-foot pole. I'm sure they would be a great addition to this salad if you aren't a tomato-hater like myself.

4. When grill is ready, place steak on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill approximately 4-6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove flank steak from the grill and place on a cutting board. Let rest for 15 minutes.

5. Pour dressing over salad. Notice my dressing right before I mixed it is now liquefied. Toss well to coat.

6. Cut steak diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Serve with mixed salad and enjoy!

Serves 4: Calories 264; Total Fat 9.7g; Saturated Fat 4.0g; Cholesterol 62mg; Sodium 741mg; Total Carbohydrates 9.7g; Dietary Fiber 1.9g; Sugars 4.1g; Protein 33.9g; Vitamin A 76%; Vitamin C 69%; Calcium 13%; Iron 24%

Recipe from

Before mixing the salad dressing into the salad, we take out a handful of greens for our picky eater. That way, he can enjoy the same meal as the rest of the family without the trauma of having sauce or dressing on his salad.

This dressing may also not appeal to your average child who is not a picky eater. Our son did enjoy the dressing. Our daughter and our picky eater did not want to try it--that was okay with us. Some ingredients are just not essential in our house.

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