1 lb lean tender steak, grilled to taste and thinly sliced (medium rare or rare is traditional) – or use warm slices of leftover steak
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
6 large leaves of lettuce, use just enough to provide a pretty bed for the rest of the salad
1 large cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
10 cloves of garlic
5 Thai chilies or use 3 jalapenos or Serrano peppers
3 T good quality fish sauce
4 T lime juice
1 T sugar
Rinse, dry, de-stem, and grind the fresh garlic and chilies using a mortar and pestle, or use a sharp knife or chopping tool to finely dice.
Transfer the ground mixture to a small dish.
Add the fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar. Stir well and place covered in the refrigerator.
Arrange the lettuce on a platter.
Decorate the lettuce with cucumber, tomatoes, warm steak slices, red onion, and cilantro.
Pour half of the dressing over the salad platter, reserving the rest to serve at the table.
Spoon Mage™ Notes for the non-Thai:
I reduced the usual number of Thai chilies as 10 chilies is too hot for anyone not from Thailand! When you make Yum Nua at home, you are in charge of the heat. Increase or reduce the number of chilies to suit your preference. If you don’t like food to be very hot, taste a small piece of the chili or pepper before adding it to the dressing. Chili and pepper heat varies quite a bit.
The lipophilic chemical Capsaicin, contained within chilies, produces a burning sensation when it comes into contact with skin. Wear kitchen gloves or cover your hands with small plastic sandwich bags when working with them – just be careful not to chop the baggie as it is not a delicious seasoning.
Dip a cucumber slice into the dressing, taste, and adjust the flavors to suit you. If the idea of using fish sauce makes you squeamish, reduce the amount by half and then adjust upward after tasting.
If you cannot find fresh Thai chilies or jalapeno peppers in your area, look in the Asian section of your local grocery store for one of those nice little jars of already ground hot red Asian chilies – my favorite brand has a drawing of a rooster on it and is filled with delicious ground chilies and garlic. Mix in a teaspoon at a time until the dressing is hot enough for you.
If you are not a hot and spicy food person at all, but want to give the other Thai flavors a try, add your favorite mild pepper to the dressing. To make Yum Nua authentically flame on Thai hot – grind 10-12 Thai chilies and garlic in a mortar pestle.