I spent part of this past weekend testing beef salad recipes. Which cuts of meat work best? Which greens and vegetables go best alongside steak? Which vinaigrettes brighten the beef best?
Before I started, I had in mind that I wanted to base one salad on a classic Thai beef salad. I love how Thai cuisine works with contrasting tastes, flavors and temperatures. In the greens and dressing, I wanted a little bit of sweet, sour, salty and bitter to complement the rich beef.
Any steak — filet, strip, sirloin, ribeye, leftover or not — would have the requisite richness and umami punch a beef salad needs. I went with flank steak since it’s relatively inexpensive, has lots of flavor and cooks quickly.
Any slightly bitter or sweet vegetables would have worked — escarole, bibb lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots or fennel. I decided on bitter raddichio and earthy sweet green beans. For the dressing, I went back to the salad’s roots and made a sour lime vinaigrette with honey, fish sauce, garlic and chiles.
It was packed with taste and flavor. The contrast between the warm steak and the cold greens made the salad even more dynamic. The only thing missing was fresh cilantro, which I accidentally left behind at the store.
Beef, raddichio and green been salad with chile-lime dressing
1 pound flank steak
fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons canola oil (for searing the steak)
4 heads radicchio, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds green beens, trimmed and cut in half on the bias
2 limes, juiced (1/3 cup juice) and zested (1 teaspoon)
1/2 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil (for the dressing)
1. Preheat the oven to 400F and put the rack in the middle position. Bring a large pot of water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil. Season the flank steak on both sides with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a large oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, put the flank steak in the pan. Leave it alone to brown on the first side, 2-4 minutes. Turn the steak over and brown on the second side, 2-4 more minutes.
3. Put the steak in the oven to roast until it reaches 140F in the thickest part for medium rare, 5-10 minutes. Remove the steak to a cutting board to rest.
4. Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients. When the pot of water boils, add the green beans and stir. Cook until the beans turn bright green, only 1-2 minutes. Drain the green beans and dry them on a kitchen towel.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, zest, serrano, garlic, honey and soy sauce. Slowly whisk in the canola oil until the dressing emulsifies.
6. Put the raddichio and green beans in a bowl. Add a little of the vinaigrette at a time, tasting as you go, until the salad is lightly coated. Thinly slice the flank steak across the grain. Arrange some salad on each plate. Top with the steak and a little more of the dressing.