Thai Beef Salad with Lettuce Cups and Sticky Rice


  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Thai jasmine rice, uncooked
  • 1 tablespoon Maggi seasoning* (or soy sauce)
  • 1 pound round steak, about 3/4-inch thick, trimmed
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 3 to 4 limes), or to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 or 2 fresh Thai chiles (bird’s eye chiles), or to taste, sliced crosswise very thinly**
  • 1/4 cup whole fresh mint leaves, packed
  • 1/4 cup whole fresh cilantro leaves, packed
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and cut into 1/16-inch thick slices
  • 6 to 8 green onions, green tops only, cut into 1/16-inch thick slices
  • 1 head Bibb or Boston lettuce, separated into lettuce cups
  • 1 recipe Sticky Rice (recipe below)
  • Optional condiments (recipes below)

For the Roasted Rice: Heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat; place rice in hot pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the aroma is released and rice begins to brown. Cool completely, then pulverize in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to form a coarse powder; set aside until needed.

For the Beef: Rub Maggi into both sides of the round steak; marinate, unrefrigerated, for 30 minutes before cooking. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Rub steak oil and grill until rare, about 1 minute per side, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 125 degrees F in the center of the steak; do not overcook or the meat will be very tough. Set aside to cool until needed.

For the Dressing: Whisk together fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, and chiles. Start out with a smaller amount of fish sauce and lime juice, then add more to the finished dish to suit your personal taste; set aside until needed.

For the Salad: Slice the grilled meat on the diagonal into 2-inch long pieces; slice as thinly as possible, approximately 1/16-inch thick, or meat will be very tough. Pour dressing over meat, then toss with roasted ground rice, mint, cilantro, shallots, and green onions. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired fish sauce, lime juice, and chiles. The meat should be highly flavorful, as it is paired with neutral flavored rice and lettuce. Place the lettuce cups on a tray along with a bowl of the beef salad, a bowl of sticky rice, and any additional condiments desired. The beef salad should be served in lettuce cups and eaten like a taco with or without Sticky Rice balls (recipe follows).

*Maggi seasoning is a soy-based sauce that accents the natural flavors of foods without masking their flavor. It contains no fat, cholesterol or sugar and is often used in contemporary Thai cooking. Maggi can be found in Asian markets and many grocery stores.

**You may substitute 1/2 to3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes for the fresh chiles. Always wash hands thoroughly after handling fresh or dried chiles to avoid injury.

Serves 4

Thai Condiments: These simple sauces are delightful accompaniments to any Thai meal. Try spooning over your lettuce cups, noodles, or vegetables for added spice and complexity. They are also delicious stirred into Thai soups just before serving. For maximum flavor development, these condiments are all best made and refrigerated five to seven days prior to serving.

  • Nam pla prik: Place 2/3 cup Thai chiles in a 1-pint jar; fill with fish sauce and seal.
  • Prik dong: Place 2/3 cup Thai chiles in a 1-pint jar; fill with white rice vinegar and seal.
  • Prik si-iew wan: Place 2/3 cup fresh jalapeno peppers in a 1-pint jar; fill with sweet dark soy sauce and seal.

Sticky Rice

  • 2 cups sticky rice (also known as sweet rice or glutinous rice)
  • Water, to cover

Place rice in a fine mesh strainer, then rinse under cool running water until it runs clear. Place rinsed rice in a medium saucepan or storage container; cover with cold water by 2 inches and soak overnight.

Drain rice, then transfer to a steamer insert* set over a pot of boiling water. Make sure water is not touching the steamer insert. Cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low; cook until rice is sticky enough to form a ball with your hand, about 30 to 45 minutes. When rice is done, turn it out onto a large baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. With a rubber spatula or rice paddle, gently spread the rice out into a shallow layer to help release some of the steam. When rice is cool enough to touch, transfer it onto a serving platter in a large mound. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature.

Serving Suggestion: Traditionally, sticky rice is rolled into small balls and eaten with the hands. Sticky rice balls are delicious wrapped in lettuce leaves with Thai Beef Salad and drizzled with your choice of condiment.

*Note: Line the steamer insert with cheesecloth if the holes are large enough for the rice to slip through.

Makes 4 cups