The Thais have food sussed. Anyone who’s experienced a Thai curry, noodle dish or Tom Yum soup can vouch for the symphony of flavours which dance around your tongue, perfectly in time without standing on another’s toes. Thai food is all about bringing together flavours which communicate with the tastebuds: the salty; the sweet; the sour; and a healthy dose of spice to keep the party going. But we can learn just as much from Thai food culture as we can from the style of cooking. Thai food isn’t solely about filling an empty tummy, nor is it simply a meal. Thai meals are about rituals and respect. They are about the sourcing of food, the preparation of the meal, and, most importantly, about coming together and sharing it with others. It’s not about filling your plate and scoffing it down. It’s about grazing, lots of small servings and appreciating flavours and company. Sometimes it’s about deep-fried grasshoppers, of which I’m not so convinced (although my brother has been known to enjoy a bag of them after a night on the town. He says they taste like peanuts…hmmm).
So in celebration of Thai food culture, I invite you to try making this incredibly easy Thai beef salad. I’ve adjusted the traditional recipe so that it uses more readily-available ingredients. That’s the beauty of this dish – it can be changed to your liking. I used slices of honey soy beef left over from last nights bbq, but it would be equally delicious with chicken, prawns or pork. Vegetarians might want to opt for tofu or no meat at all. You could also substitute sliced snow peas or snow pea shoots for bean sprouts, or lemon for lime. The one thing that you really must do to make it taste it’s best every time, is to eat it with good company.
AN EASY THAI BEEF SALAD FOR 4
100g vermicelli noodles
1 medium beef steak, cooked and sliced
1 Carrot, grated
1 lebanese cucumber, julienned (or sliced)
handful of bean sprouts, washed
handful of mint, torn
handful of coriander, torn
1/2 cup of chopped unsalted cashews or peanuts, plus 1 tbs extra to serve.
2 tbs sweet chilli sauce
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbs fish sauce
To make salad
Firstly, boil some water in a kettle, place the noodles in a bowl and top with the boiled water. Let them stand for 5 minutes or so, so they are soft, then drain and rinse under cold water. Add all ingredients into a bowl, pour in dressing and toss. Top with extra nuts to serve.
To make dressing
Put ingredients in a small jar or container with a lid and shake well.