Grilled Beef Ribeye with ‘Waterfall’ Salad (neua yang nahm tok), an Isaan dish from Northeastern Thailand, is perfect for the summer weather, and will wake up your taste buds with its spicy, herbal, sour and salty flavours. It’s a great way to lift a good quality steak even higher, and is straightforward to make.
The recipe is from John Chantarasak’s Kin Thai cookbook.
Check out my in-depth review of Kin Thai by John Chantarasak.
Grilled Beef Ribeye with ‘Waterfall’ Salad (neua yang nahm tok)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon seasoning sauce (see Note)
- ½ teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- 450 g (1 lb) ribeye steak, preferably on the bone and dry-aged for at least 21 days
- 3 tablespoons coriander (cilantro) leaves
- 2 tablespoons mint leaves
- 1 spring onion (scallion), thinly sliced
- ½ small red onion,thinly sliced with the grain of the onion
- 2 lemongrass stalks, root and outer husks removed, thinly sliced
- 2 makrut lime leaves, fresh or frozen, thinly shredded
- 2 dried bird’s eye chillies, toasted (optional)
- 1 tablespoon Toasted Rice Powder (see below)
For the dressing (nahm yum)
- 4 tablespoons lime juice
- 2½ tablespoons fish sauce
- 1½ tablespoons caster superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon Toasted Chilli Powder (see below)
Seasoning sauce (nahm [roong ros): This is the secret ingredient in many Thai recipes, particularly stir-fries. Althogh not commonly known in the Western world, this sauce has been used in Thailand for centuries. Like soy sauce it’s made from fermented soy beans, but it has a more rounded flavour from the addition of sugar and ‘flavour enhancers’(not MSG) to give deeper umami that balances out the saltiness. The main brand used throughout Thailand is Golden Mountain, or affectionately known as ‘green cap’ due to the colour of the bottle top
For the dressing, mix together the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and Toasted Chilli Powder in a small bowl. This should taste aggressively sour, spicy and salty. Set aside at room temperature until later.
In another small bowl, mix together the fish sauce, seasoning sauce, sugar and white pepper. Rub this all over the steak and leave to marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Prepare a charcoal grill, then cook the steak over a medium heat, turning once or twice, to give nice caramelisation and colour. I recommend cooking ribeye to medium, but cook to your preference. Leave the steak to rest for at least 5 minutes, before slicing against the grain of the meat.
In a medium bowl, mix together the coriander, mint, spring onion, red onion, lemongrass, makrut lime leaf and toasted dried chillies until combined. Add enough of the dressing to nicely coat the herbs and aromatics without drowning the leaves, then toss everything together gently to coat.
Arrange the sliced steak on a serving plate and pour over a little of the dressing to season. Arrange the herbal salad over the top of the steak and finish with a generous sprinkle of the Toasted Rice Powder to serve.
The following two sub-recipes show you how to make the toasted rice powder and toasted chilli powder called for in the main recipe.
Toasted Rice Powder (khao khua)
- 100 g (3 ½ oz/ ½ cup) uncooked sticky rice
- 4 outer husks of lemongrass, chopped (optional)
- 2 makrut lime leaves, fresh or frozen (optional)
Dry-toast the uncooked rice with the lemongrass husks and makrut lime leaves in a wok or heavy-based pan over a low heat for 5 minutes, moving the rice constantly so that the grains turn a deep golden-brown colour and smell toasty and nutty.
Remove and discard the lemongrass and makrut lime leaves, then grind the toasted rice in a granite pestle and mortar to a somewhat coarse powder. Work in batches if necessary so as to not overcrowd the mortar. Alternatively, use a spice grinder or hand-held blender, but be careful not to overgrind the grains into too fine a powder. You are looking for a texture that resembles sand. Keep in an airtight container in a dark place for up to two weeks; any longer, and the rice will lose its aromatic fragrance.
If you prefer, you can omit the toasted rice powder and use ready-made chilli powder instead.
Toasted Chilli Powder (prik bon)
- 200 g (7 oz) dried long red chillies, seeded
- 25 g (1 oz) dried bird’s eye chillies
Dry-toast the dried long red chillies in a wok over a medium heat for 10 minutes, moving them around frequently so that the chillies colour evenly and darken. Some black blistering and charring is good for flavour, but too much will cause the final chilli powder to become dark and bitter. Remove from the wok and repeat the process for the bird’s eye chillies, this time cooking for 5 minutes.
Blitz the chillies in a hand-held blender or spice grinder to a powder of your chosen texture. I prefer my prik bon with a little more texture than shop-bought chilli powder, more like that of sand. Be careful not to blitz any of the chilli seeds that have fallen out of the chillies and become burnt and blackened while toasting, as these will be bitter. Store in an airtight container away from direct sunlight for up to two months.
Kavey Eats received a review copy of Kin Thai by John Chantarasak from publishers Hardie Grant. Book photography by Maureen M. Evans. Recipe published with permission.