Most of the time when I make a steak these days, I usually just eat it with an iceberg lettuce salad and ranch dressing or rice. My quick and lazy meal. But earlier this week when I did that, the simple dinner just didn't satisfy me.
I started to remember the Vietnamese steak salad my mom used to make when I was young. I know she used some of the extra marinade for the dressing, but remembered it tasting, well, more. So I called up my mom and asked her.
Ah, soy sauce, vinegar, and oil. Salad dressing of course, but a brothy, beefy salad dressing to complement the steak salad. Mmm. That salad was good, mom said, and wondered aloud why she hadn't made it in a long time either.
But, but, making a proper salad takes so much work. Not the cooking of the steak, but slicing all the vegetables. I mean, that is why I default to the iceberg lettuce salad as an accompaniment. But my cravings would not be assuaged by anything less. So I got off my lazy butt, and started slicing and dicing.
Except she served it untossed, a little more nicely laid out sort of like the picture below.
This version is a combination of what I remember my mom making and how I like my flavors to combine. Do the steps in this order so each ingredient gets proper marination or resting time. Marinate the steak. You can keep the beef whole as a steak and slice it after cooking, or slice it first so it'll be more like a stir-fry on top of the salad. Either way works fine.
Then make the hard-boiled eggs. I like keeping one egg whole and mashing up the other into the dressing to flavor it more.
You know how much I love my Hanh Dam (Vietnamese Vinegared Onions) so they'll need time to soften.
Then slice and dice whatever vegetables you'd like in the salad.
After that, it's a simple matter of cooking the steak and making the dressing out of the leftover marinade. I like to toss in some roughly chopped herbs and the mashed egg into the dressing near the end to make it more flavorful. The warm dressing will slightly wilt the lettuce, but that's part of the flavor. If you don't like wilted lettuce, just let the dressing cool down first before tossing.
My mom would serve just this steak salad and rice for dinner. She says she uses just soy sauce to marinate the steak, but I like adding fish sauce too. The dressing is easily adjusted to your taste preference. Serve it as a side salad or as a meal, it's filling either way. You can even save and refrigerate the leftovers as this steak salad tastes great even chilled. If you do, you'll probably want to use a hardier lettuce than red leaf so it doesn't get soggy from the dressing.
If you like Bo Luc Lac (Vietnamese Shaking Beef), you'll like xa lach thit bo.
Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad)
For two servings as a meal or four servings as a side, you'll need:
For the steak, you'll need:
3/4 to 1 lb beef, any cut of your choice
2 tblsp soy sauce
1 tblsp rice vinegar
1 tsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
For the salad, you'll need:
1 small red onion to make Hanh Dam (Vietnamese Vinegared Onions)
1 head red leaf lettuce or other lettuce of your choice
Any vegetables of your choice, I used:
1 carrot, peeled into ribbons
6 radishes, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
For the salad dressing, you'll need:
2 tblsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tblsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
A few sprigs of mint or rau ram (Vietnamese coriander), roughly chopped
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes
Decide whether to slice the beef before or after cooking and do that accordingly. Marinate the steak with 2 tblsp soy sauce, 1 tblsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp fish sauce, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, and 1 tsp sesame oil.
Hard-boil the eggs.
Make the vinegared onions.
Slice and dice the veggies of your choice. Hand tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Roughly chop the herbs.
On the left, my attempt to lay out the salad nice, and my preferred method of tossing everything on the right.
Cook the steak, putting only the beef into the pan, reserving the marinade for later. I usually pan-fry on medium-high heat until medium. Alternatively, if you had chosen to slice your steak, just saute as normal, but still reserving the marinade so the beef will develop a proper char.
Set aside the steak to cool and to let the juices redistribute.
In the pan, make the dressing by adding 2 tblsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sesame oil, 2 tblsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice, and 1/4 cup water. When marinade starts bubbling so the meat juices aren't so raw, taste and add more vinegar or soy sauce if necessary.
Meanwhile, slice the steak while the dressing is reducing.
Oops. Forgot to add some dried chili flakes for spice. Better to do that later anyway so the dressing won't be too spicy.
When dressing is reduced to your liking and flavor, take it off the stove and add in the chopped egg and chopped herbs.
Plate the salad and drizzle the dressing on top. Or if you want the steak extra marinated, then add the slice steak back into the dressing, and then toss.
Untossed steak salad.
Tossed steak salad. Eat as is, or serve with rice.
Other Vietnamese salads:
Goi Buoi Tom (Vietnamese Pomelo Salad with Shrimp)
Goi Cu Sen Non Tom Thit (Vietnamese Young Lotus Root Salad with Shrimp and Pork)
Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Salad/Spring/Summer Rolls)
Goi Du Du Kho Bo (Vietnamese Papaya Salad with Beef Jerky)
Goi Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Salad)
Goi Ga Bap Cai (Vietnamese Chicken Cabbage Salad)
Goi Mit Non Tom Thit Heo (Vietnamese Green Jackfruit Salad with Pork and Shrimp)
Goi Xoai Xanh (Vietnamese Green Mango Salad)
Xa Lach Thit Bo Rau Muong (Vietnamese Steak and Water Spinach Salad)
1 year ago today, Portland from Glendora rose.
2 years ago today, Sup Mang Tay Cua (Vietnamese Asparagus and Crab Soup).
3 years ago today, Mandarin Noodle Deli - Temple City (Closed).