I am a lover of oriental food! I could shout this from the rooftops. I simply LOVE oriental food. At first, it was your regular run of the mill stuff, like, beef & broccoli or pepper steak. Oh, and most everyone loves shrimp fried rice! I used to eat shrimp fried rice and french fries by the bucketload while I was in Korea. (I know… weird combination). Being in the military afforded me the opportunity to travel and learn more about oriental foods and to experience them in their original form. Most oriental food that we have here in the United States is what people would call “Americanized” and lacks some of the flavor and simplicity that you find in the native countries. Overall, I have to say that my favorite, by far, is Thai food.
P.S. Have you ever noticed that most oriental people are small, and very fit? I decided that this required some research on my part, because I wanted to know why these people could eat all of this wonderful food and not gain any weight… it just wasn’t adding up! Oops… there I go again… my inner thoughts coming out. You will be please to know that I discovered it is because of the food itself (lots of veggies) and the preparation methods… (not all of the oil and preservatives that we find in the oriental restaurants)… mmm hmmm!
I was fortunate because I have a friend who is Thai. She graciously gave me cooking lessons every Monday so that I could learn to cook my favorite dishes (thanks Ann!). I have to admit that I was a little intimidated at first, but as we got into cooking the dishes, I discovered that it really wasn’t hard to do. Thai cooking involves more seasoning than traditional chinese or cantonese food. It kind of “pops” in your mouth. There is also the element of heat in some of the dishes that puts it over the top for me. (No worries, I’m not going to go back into my heat phase, I was simply stating the obvious, Lol!). Anywhooo… the other cool thing about Thai food is you can have it anywhere from extremely mild to over the top hot. Again, it’s all about the seasoning. A particular favorite of mine is Nam Tok, or the Thai “Waterfall” salad. This can be made with ground pork or beef. I prefer the beef version. It’s not your typical salad, as it is not served cold, rather it is warm or room temperature. You will find some versions that come with tomato and some that do not. It can also be served over lettuce or steamed jasmine rice. It lends itself to variety and the ability to turn this salad into a main course.
Here is my take on Nam Tok. I hope that you enjoy it!
THAI BEEF SALAD (NAM TOK)
½ pound flank steak
2 roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
½ red onion, slice thinly
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. brown sugar
Heat nonstick pan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, put the flank steak into the pan and sear on 1 side. Turn the steak over and let it cook 4-5 mins (medium to medium well doneness). Remove the steak and place on a cutting board. Reserve the juices from the pan in a large bowl. Allow the meat to cool enough to touch it. Slice the meat thinly against the grain and place in the bowl.
Add the garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika, fish sauce, lime juice, cayenne pepper and brown sugar. (You can use any seasoning you prefer, but be sure that you do not omit the fish sauce and lime juice as they are the anchor of this dish). Stir to coat the meat. Taste for seasoning. Add more fish sauce if not salty enough, and more lime juice if too salty. Add the tomatoes and onion and stir. Add the cilantro and stir. Serve over lettuce or steamed jasmine rice.