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Thai-Style Beef Salad with Mint

Quick & Easy
Makes 4 servings20 minutes hands on time20 minutes total time

By Catherine Newman

Makes: 4 servings

Total carbohydrates: 12 grams per serving

Hands-on time: 20 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

I copied this dish from a meat salad − nam tok − we ate in a Thai restaurant, but it seems actually to be more similar to a Lao salad called larb. Either way, it’s hard to stop eating: crunchy, tender, herby, spicy, sour, rich, and juicy, with everything scooped up in crisp cabbage leaves. For a simpler, more portable version, cut the cabbage into 1-inch pieces and stir the meat into it while it’s still hot. Leftover salad is fantastic, but if it’s practical to warm it briefly before eating, it’s even better that way. (Note: When I make this for dinner at my house, I serve my vegetarian child cubed raw tofu dressed with soy sauce and lime juice, and then she assembles her cabbage packets from tofu, peanuts, and mint leaves.)


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 garlic cloves, chopped

4 fat scallions, the white part and an inch or 2 of greens, sliced into thin rings

1 pound ground beef

½ teaspoon chili flakes

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (grate the zest before juicing)

2 tablespoons soy sauce (or use fish sauce, if you have an like it)

½ cup roasted salted or unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

1 cup fresh mint leaves, torn or coarsely chopped

¼ head of green cabbage, halved crosswise, leaves separated

½ lime, cut into wedges


1. Heat the oil in a wide pan over medium-high heat and add the garlic and scallions. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two until the garlic is just beginning to turn golden.

2. Add the ground beef and chili flakes and cook, stirring constantly and breaking up clumps with a spatula, just until the meat is no longer pink, around 4 minutes.

3. Turn off the heat and stir in the lime juice and soy sauce and half the chopped peanuts.

4. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes or so, until it just warm, then stir in the lime zest and mint leaves. Taste it for salt (add some if it needs it, but it probably won’t), then serve with the cabbage leaves, the remaining peanuts, and the lime wedges.

About Catherine

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. She also helped develop Sprout, a WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as Seasoned, their senior version. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health, happiness, and real food at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.

[Photo Credit: Catherine Newman]