Beef Salad with Palm Sugar Dressing

, from Issue #34. November, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Beef Salad with Palm Sugar Dressing

Serves: 4-6


600 grams sirloin or rib eye steak

¼ cup rice vinegar
½ cup shaved palm sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon chilli powder, optional
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large carrot, peeled
1 small telegraph cucumber
100 grams baby spinach
2 cups finely shredded red cabbage
2 handfuls bean sprouts
2 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
¼ cup Vietnamese mint or regular mint
½ cup crisp roasted shallots


Dessing: Put the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over a low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes until syrupy. Tip into a bowl and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Pour half the dressing into a shallow dish large enough to hold the cooked steak in a single layer. Reserve the remaining dressing.

Beef: Rub the steak with a little oil and season generously. Grill on a preheated barbecue or fry in a sauté pan for 2-3 minutes each side then place in the dish with the dressing and leave for at least
10 minutes, turning a couple of times.

To assemble: Shave the carrot into thin strips with a vegetable peeler. Halve the cucumber and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon. Slice thinly on the diagonal.

Remove the steak from the dressing and slice thinly across the grain. Place the sliced meat back in the dish and toss to coat in the dressing.

Put all the salad ingredients and half the shallots in a large bowl and toss with the reserved dressing. Lift the beef out of the dressing and toss with the salad. Divide between serving bowls and scatter with the remaining shallots and extra Vietnamese mint if desired. 

Pantry note: Palm sugar (also known as Gur, Jaggery, Gula Melaka) is derived from several different palm trees. The sap  is boiled down and the result can be similar to a thick honey, a soft paste  or a hard cake which is then grated or shaved. The cakes come in different shapes and sizes and the colour can vary from pale to dark. The flavour is quite caramelly and can be substituted with equal parts of brown sugar and maple syrup. Available from Asian stores and good supermarkets.