In Thailand and Vietnam, there are many variations of hot and sour salads. The dressing is what sets this salad apart, with its pungent mixture of hot red chili, shredded ginger, and lime juice. In an authentic Southeast Asian meal there are numerous courses, arriving at the table in a continuous stream. From the middle of the meal onward, there may be any number of dishes being eaten together. A salad such as this comes in the first half of the meal. For a vegetarian alternative, try grilled mushrooms and asparagus in place of beef.
– 1lb (450g) top sirloin or other tender beef, trimmed of fat.
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon.
– 1 tsp ground cumin.
– 1 tsp five-spice powder.
– 2 fresh red jalapeño or serrano chilies, seeded and finely chopped.
– 2in (5cm) piece of fresh ginger, sliced into thin matchsticks.
– 4 scallions (green onions), cut into fine slivers.
– 2 shallots, thinly sliced.
– ½ bunch of fresh cilantro leaves.
– 20 fresh mint leaves.
– juice of 3 limes.
– 1 tbsp Asian fish sauce.
– 2 tbsp soy sauce.
– 4 tbsp ground roasted rice (see below).
– salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 2: To make the salad, thinly slice the beef and mix in a bowl with the chilies, ginger, scallions, and shallots. Top with the cilantro and half of the mint. Add the lime juice, fish sauce, and soy sauce. Add half of the ground roasted rice. Toss gently to mix. The flavors should be hot, sour, and salty. Add more chilies, lime juice, and fish sauce, if necessary.
Step 3: Slice the remaining mint into thin strips. Serve the salad garnished with the remaining roasted rice and the mint. Roasted rice Roasted rice is not difficult to make and has a great nutty flavor. It is similar to toasted sesame seeds, so you could use those instead, if you like. But roasting rice is worth the effort. Simply scatter a couple of handfuls of raw jasmine or sticky rice on baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 6–8 minutes or until evenly golden and fragrant. Check frequently while cooking to avoid burning. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet. When cool, grind using a pestle and mortar. It is very hard, so it needs to be pounded until it is broken up into fine pieces but not ground to a powder.