Crunchy Beef & Peanut Salad by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan
June 27, 2019
Salad for Dinner. It heralds summer al fresco dining.
This salad does have a few steps but they are all quick and easy. The two sauces could be made earlier in the day or even the day before, and reheated.
The individual tastes are crunchy, fragrant, spicy, meaty, sweet, sour and savory.
To quote Aristotle: “The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts”.
- Prep: 1 hr
- Cook: 10 mins
- Yields: 4 Servings
Thai fragrant sugar syrup:
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
½ cup rice wine vinegar
Pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
Optional: 2 sprigs fresh mint leaves
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup smooth peanut butter
½ cup water, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 ½-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled, sliced and chopped or grated
2 small cloves garlic, peeled and mashed to a paste
½ jalapeno pepper, stemmed & seeded and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce
Juice of 1-2 limes (depends on size of limes)
Soy sauce or kosher salt to taste
one 8/9-ounce package Japanese-style Udon noodles
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 ½ pounds thinly sliced bottom round beef/sandwich steaks (about 1/8-inch thick)
Kosher salt to season
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (plus more as needed), canola oil
1 head romaine lettuce, leaves washed & dried
½ cup dry-roasted & salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
½ bunch scallions, washed & dried, green and white parts chopped separately
optional: a few sprigs cilantro
Make the sugar syrup.
Combine the sugar, water and rice wine vinegar together in a small saucepan. Swirl to dissolve the sugar over heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes until a clear, light syrup is obtained. Remove from heat and add the pinch of salt, the grated lime rind, the Thai chili sauce and the fresh mint leaves if using. Let sit at room temperature to cool.
Make the peanut sauce.
Open the can of coconut milk and add it to a saucepan. Whisk the coconut liquids and solids together. Add the peanut butter, the chopped shallots, sliced jalapeno, minced gingerroot & garlic. Whisk to dissolve over low heat and simmer gently to make a smooth sauce. Do not boil. Adjust thickness of sauce with water, adding it tablespoon by tablespoon, to thin out to a sauce consistency. In French cuisine, a sauce is the correct texture when it coats the back of a spoon. Add the Thai fish sauce and fresh squeezed lime juice. Taste and season with either with kosher salt or with a teaspoon or two of soy sauce.
Cook the noodles.
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Add the Udon noodles and stir continuously until water returns to the boil. When ‘al dente’, drain, rinse under cool water and shake off excess water. Coat the cooked Udon noodles with the finished peanut sauce. Put into bottom of a large bowl or platter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of chopped white parts of the scallion. Set aside while you assemble more parts.
Chop the romaine lettuce.
Take a few leaves of the washed & dried romaine lettuce and stack them on top of each other. With a chef’s knife, cut across the leaves into ¼-inch strips. Continue with all the leaves and when finished, add 2 tablespoons of chopped scallion greens and toss to combine. Cover the cooked and peanut-sauced noodles with this chopped romaine lettuce.
Cook the meat.
Open the packages of thinly sliced top round of beef. Pat dry with a paper towel and season lightly with kosher salt. Heat a large sauté pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons canola oil to the bottom of the pan and sear the pieces of meat quickly and turning the pieces over once. This should be very fast. Lay the cooked meat on a dish or sheet pan and let rest for 5 minutes.
Slice the beef across the grain into very fine slivers, about 1/8-inch wide. Add all the cut strips to a bowl and season with fresh ground pepper. Add a few tablespoons of the Thai fragrant sugar syrup to coat the meat. (Use it like you would a vinaigrette; that is, be generous but don’t ‘drown’ the meat in sugar syrup.)
Add the sliced meat to the platter of noodles and romaine. Garnish with sprigs of fresh cilantro (optional) and be generous with sprinkling the chopped peanuts over the top.