Evil Martha Thai Noodle Salad


Or, if I’m feeling respectable, Southeast Asian Beef Noodle Salad. Or, to be honest, Everything But the Kitchen Sink Noodle Salad. I like the first name best (borrowed, as it is, from Houston’s Evil Jungle Thai Noodle Salad). Stephen calls it the John Coltrane salad; it’s got layers, he says, lots of different textures. Maybe it seems a little chaotic, but there’s a hidden logic waiting to reward the adventurous. No two bites taste the same, and all the disparate elements are tied together with a tingling acidity and slow burning heat.
It’s quite a jazzy salad, made up of riffs of hot and cold, soft and crunchy, spicy and sweet. The chile paste-laced dressing plays a trick on the tongue. It sneaks up, hidden behind vegetables and noodles. When suddenly you find your mouth warming up, it seems logical to have another bite, expecting the cucumber and mango to cool it. This, of course, only brings more chile dressing and more burn. An evil cycle, but a pleasurable one.

This salad is also great way to clean out bits and pieces of produce from the fridge. I usually make it with a wide range of vegetables for different layers of soft and crisp. Everything listed below are just suggestions; the recipe takes well to improvisation. It’s also wonderful, and slightly more authentically Thai, with just the noodles, cabbage, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
Evil Martha Thai Noodle Salad
(serves 2 generously)
3 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha or similar chile paste (or more, depending on how brave you’re feeling)
1 tablespoonl light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon neutral flavored oil (like canola or grapeseed)
Whisk everything together and let set at room temprature while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
1/2 pound skirt steak, flank steak, or a similar thin cut
1 ounce dried rice noodles, soaked until soft in boiling water, cut into pieces if very long, and chilled
1 large handful mesclun or chopped lettuce
1 large handful shredded cabbage
3 thinly-sliced radishes
1 small julienned carrot
1/3 cup seeded, diced cucumber
1/3 cup diced mango
1/3 cup seeded, diced tomato
2 thinly-sliced scallions
2-3 tablespoons toasted, crushed peanuts
About 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, mint, basil or a combination
Season the beef with salt and pepper and sear in a hot skillet (preferably cast iron) for 2-3 minutes per side, or until medium rare. Let the meat rest for a few minutes, then slice on the bias and toss with 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing.
Mix the remaining salad ingredients (except the peanuts) in a large bowl, and add dressing until everything is well coated. Divide the salad between two plates, mound the beef on top and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts.

Posted in Food, Recipes

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