This refreshing salad from the July 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated is perfect for a warm summer evening. The steak is grilled, sliced and quickly tossed with hot chiles, shallots, mint and cilantro in a classic Thai sauce of fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. The mixture is then served over crisp slices of cucumber. The salad is also enhanced by the addition of toasted rice powder, which adds texture. Our butcher did not have flank steak, so I used a New York striploin. Whatever type of steak you used, be sure to slice it thinly, across the grain. I also used a jalapeno instead of Thai chile.

Toast rice and grind it into a powder

Chiles and shallots add heat and flavour

Mint and cilantro add fresh flavours

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, use fresh lime juice and a fish sauce without MSG, such as Thai Kitchen brand.

Thai Grilled-Beef Salad


1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon white rice

3 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes)

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon sugar

1 ½ pound flank steak, trimmed

Salt and white pepper, coarsely ground

4 shallots, sliced thin

1 ½ cups fresh mint leaves, torn

1 ½ cups fresh cilantro leaves

1 Thai chile, stemmed and sliced thin into rounds

1 seedless English cucumber, sliced ¼ inch thick on bias


Heat paprika and cayenne in 8-inch skillet over medium heat; cook, shaking pan, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to small bowl. Return now-empty skillet to medium-high heat, add rice, and toast, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to second small bowl and cool for 5 minutes. Grind rice with spice grinder, mini food processor, or mortar and pestle until it resembles fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1 tablespoon rice powder).

Whisk lime juice, fish sauce, water, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon toasted paprika mixture in large bowl and set aside.

For a Charcoal Grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

For a Gas Grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).

Clean and oil cooking grate. Season steak with salt and white pepper. Place steak over hot part of grill and cook until beginning to char and beads of moisture appear on outer edges of meat, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip steak and continue to cook on second side until charred and center registers 125 degrees, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to plate, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (or allow to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour).

Slice meat, against grain, on bias into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer sliced steak to bowl with fish sauce mixture. Add shallots, mint, cilantro, chile, and half of rice powder; toss to combine. Transfer to platter lined with cucumber slices. Serve, passing remaining rice powder and toasted paprika mixture separately.

Serve with steamed rice. Serves 4 to 6.

From the July 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated

Thai Beef Salad