Thai-Style Beef Salad with Mint
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.