Thai Grilled Beef and Herb Salad

This Thai Grilled Beef and Herb Salad is a great salad recipe that you can make in these hot days of summer. It is made by grilling flank steak, marinating it in a fish sauce marinade, and mixing it with fresh herbs, cucumber, and shallots.
Whether you serve it as a meal just by itself for dinner or as a part of your outdoor party menu, it will surely be a hit among your family and friends.

Recipe for Thai Grilled Beef and Herb Salad : Beef marinated in Thai dressing and flavored with herbs.

The condo complex we live in has a very nice public space with well-maintained grills for their tenants to entertain. For the last couple of weeks, with the temperatures reaching to almost 100 F degrees, we found ourselves looking for light dinner dishes than warm and filling ones. What is better than a simple salad with grilled meat and fresh herbs? This refreshing and easy-to-make Thai Grilled Beef and Herb salad is just that: the easiest summer salad recipe that you can serve on a hot summer evening.

Thai Grilled Beef and Herb Salad

About the recipe:

Unless you cook Thai food regularly and have a pantry filled with those hard to pronounce Thai ingredients, you might have felt intimidated with the ingredients list in some Thai food recipes. Most of them could be hard to find in regular supermarkets and even if you could find them it might be hard to justify the purchase for a recipe you would be making once or twice. But did you know that you could replicate some of those ingredients with what you already have in your pantry?

This Thai steak salad uses two ingredients, dried Thai chili powder and toasted rice powder (a.k.a Khao Khua), that you may not have in your pantry, but replicate easily with some everyday ingredients. To make the dried Thai chili, all you need to do is to toast a teaspoon sweet paprika with a teaspoon cayenne pepper in a dry skillet until fragrant (for a minute or so). And replicating the rice powder could not be easier. Simply toast a tablespoon of long-grain white rice in an empty skillet until golden brown, let it cool, and grind using a spice grinder (or a mini food processor or a pestle and mortar).

Thai Grilled Beef and Herb Salad

In terms of meat, this recipe uses flank steak, which is not only an inexpensive cut of meat, but also one that offers most flavors when grilled. The best part is that you do not need to marinade the meat in advance. Instead, you do the marinating after the meat is grilled and sliced in a quick marinade made with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, Thai chili powder, rice powder, and water. This marinade also happens to be the dressing for the salad.

Thai Grilled Beef and Herb Salad

Thai Grilled Beef and Herb Salad

The refreshing part of the recipe comes from a whopping 3 cups of fresh mint and cilantro leaves. It is a little bit of work to rinse, spin dry, and tear all the leaves, but it is totally worth it. You can assemble the salad by mixing together the sliced cucumber, shallots, and herbs. Then add them into the meat and marinade and give it large toss to combine. To give it a little bit of color, I also added a quarter cup of pickled red onions that I usually keep in my fridge. Though it is optional.

Thai Grilled Beef and Herb Salad

It might be hard to balance all the dreamy hot-sour-salt-sweet flavors of Thai cooking, but with this recipe it couldn’t be easier. I can’t imagine a better salad recipe that is as refreshing and flavorful as this one. Whether you serve it as a meal just by itself or as a part of your outdoor dinner party menu, I know that your family and guests will be pleased.


Thai Grilled Beef and Herb Salad

Thai Grilled Beef and Herb Salad

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  • Author: Aysegul Sanford
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Thai Cuisine


To make the dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white rice
  • 3 tablespoons (2 limes) lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar

For the salad:

  • 1 ½ lbs flank steak, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup pickled onions (optional)
  • 1 Thai chili, stemmed and sliced (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups fresh mint leaves, rinsed and torn
  • 1 ½ cups fresh cilantro leaves, rinsed and torn
  • 1 seedless English cucumber, sliced


  1. Place paprika and cayenne pepper in a small skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, in medium heat until fragrant, 1 minute or so. Transfer it to a small bowl.
  2. Return the now-empty skillet back to medium-high heat and add rice. Toast, stirring frequently, until golden browned, 3-4 minutes. This happens pretty suddenly so keep a very close eye on it. Transfer to a small bowl and let it cool. When cooled, grind rice in a spice grinder (or a mini food processor or a mortar and pestle) until it resembles fine meal. Set aside.
  3. To make the dressing: Whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, water, sugar, and ½ teaspoon of the paprika and cayenne mixture in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. For the meat: Using a paper towel, pat-dry both sides of the steak. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Turn all burners of your grill on high, cover and open lid vent completely. Heat until hot, about 5 minutes.
  5. Place steak over on the hot part of the grill and cook until beginning to char, 5-6 minutes. Flip steak and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes or it registers 125 degrees when the middle part of the steak is inserted with an instant thermometer.
  6. Transfer the meat onto a cutting board, cover it with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Slice meat in ¼ inch slices, against the grain. Transfer the slices of meat into the bowl with the fish sauce mixture. Set aside.
  8. To assemble the salad: Add the shallots, pickled onion (if using), half of the powdered rice, Thai chili, mint, cilantro, and cucumbers in to the bowl with the meat. Gently toss to combine.
  9. Serve with the rest of the rice powder on the side.

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

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  • Laura - This is EVERYTHING I want to eat right now. Love these flavors! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Louise | Cygnet Kitchen - I just adore fresh asian flavoured salads like this. I love your tips on how to make Thai chili powder and toasted rice powder and those beautiful prep shots! Please send some of that summer heat here! <3 xxReplyCancel

    • Aysegul Sanford - Oh how about I bring it to you?!! :)) It would be a dream come true if we could share recipes with online friends. I know for sure that i’d be having that gorgeous cake you made the other day right now with my coffee. :))
      PS: I am a sucker for food photos with hands. I struggle with finding ways to make it interesting. Though I am glad you liked them. XOXOReplyCancel

  • FoodGeekGraze - ”to make the dried thai chili, all you need to do is to toast a teaspoon
    sweet paprika with a teaspoon cayenne pepper in a dry skillet until
    fragrant” < beyond priceless 411. grateful 🙂ReplyCancel

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