Thai beef salad

Salads have never been something I’ve gravitated towards, but when done well, they can be quite delightful. Refreshing and often complex and dare I say healthy! My mother’s Thai beef salad (“salat nua son”) has always been a favourite of mine–savoury and a little sweet, with a mayonnaise-based dressing (always a plus for me), so it was high time I tried my hand at it!


from my mother
1 lb beef roast or tenderloin
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp cooking oil
1 tbsp brandy
sliced cucumber
sliced tomato
torn lettuce pieces

Slice beef very thinly, across the grain, and pound it flat. Marinate with the remaining ingredients for about 4 hours or overnight. Heat oil in a saucepan at medium-high heat and fry pieces until cooked through,

Prepare the salad by assembling the lettuce, tomato and cucumber slices on a plate. Place slices of beef on top and drizzle with dressing.

½ cup water
¼ cup white sugar
1 tbsp white vinegar
½ tsp salt

Combine ingredients in a small pot and heat on the stove until the sugar is melted. Cook on low heat for 2 more minutes. Let it cool. Refrigerate until needed. When ready to use, mix small portions, a teaspoon at a time, with mayonnaise until it has a runny consistency.


I was pleasantly surprised how it turned out! Can’t quite say, “Just like mom used to make it”, but it came pretty darn close. The nice thing about this dish is that, aside from marinating in advance, it comes together quite quickly. The recipe makes a fair bit of extra syrup, which you can keep in the fridge and use to keep making dressing for future salads! For extra flair, my mother would always serve this with a tomato peel rose garnish, for which I FaceTimed with her to learn how to do. Take a very sharp knife, start at the bottom of a tomato and very gently carve a thin strip (few cm wide) of skin off, rotating the tomato as you go, until you have a long, hopefully uninterrupted strip. From there, you can roll it into a rose for some fancy-pants flair!

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