Isan Grilled Beef Salad

Isan Grilled Beef Salad

[Photograph: Luk Thys]

Isan, a rural area located in northeastern Thailand, is a place where salad magic happens. It's the birthplace of the wonderfully fresh green papaya salad as well as meatier options like this Grilled Beef Salad.

Adapted from Bangkok Street Food by Tom Vandenberghe and Eva Verplaetse, this salad is best enjoyed with chargrilled tenderloin but a stovetop sear will do the trick in a pinch.

Once you've grilled your steak (nice and rare, please) it's sliced and tossed with the holy trinity that makes up the Thai dressing: fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar. The salady elements come into play by way of fresh mint, shallots, spring onions, and thinly sliced lemongrass. The spicy-sour and vibrantly fresh dish is finished with a nutty sprinkle of toasted rice powder.

Reprinted with permission from Bangkok Street Food by Tom Vandenberghe and Eva Verplaetse. Copyright © 2010. Published by Lannoo. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.

  • Yield:2
  • Active time: 15 minutes
  • Total time:15 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 beef tenderloin (about 6 ounces)
  • 2 shallots, sliced finely lengthwise
  • 1 spring onion, sliced finely in rings
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, hard bottom end cut off; outer leaves removed, white part sliced very finely in rings (optional)
  • 1 handful of mint leaves
  • Toasted sticky rice, pound finely in mortar to powder


  1. 1.

    First make the dressing by mixing the lime juice with fish sauce, sugar and chile powder. Balance well; this dressing should taste spicy, sour and salty.

  2. 2.

    Grill the meat, preferably on a wood charcoal grill for that authentic flavour, to your taste.

  3. 3.

    Cut beef in slices (bite-size). Don’t waste the meat juice, save as much as you can. Combine beef and juice with shallot, spring onion, lemongrass when using, and fresh herbs. Finish with dressing and toasted rice powder.