Serves 4 to 6
Serve with steamed jasmine rice, if desired, although any style of white rice can be used. Don't skip the toasted rice: It's integral to the texture and flavor of the dish. If a fresh Thai chile is unavailable, substitute half of a Serrano Chile.
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon white rice
3 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 (1 1/2 pound) flank steak, trim
Salt and white pepper, coarsely ground
4 shallots, sliced thin
1 1/2cups fresh mint leaves, torn
1 1/2cups fresh cilantro leaves
1 Thai chile, stemmed and sliced thin into rounds
1 seedless English cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch thick on bias
- Heat paprika and cayenne in 8-inch skillet over medium heat; cook, shaking pan, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to small bowl. Return now-empty skillet to medium-high heat, add rice, and toast, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to second small bowl and cool for 5 minutes. Grind rice with spice grinder, mini food processor, or mortar and pestle until it resembles fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1 tablespoon rice powder).
- Whisk lime juice, fish sauce, water, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon toasted paprika mixture in large bowl and set aside.
3a. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
3b. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).
4. Clean and oil cooking grate. Season steak with salt and white pepper. Place steak over hot part of grill and cook until beginning to char and beads of moisture appear on outer edges of meat, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip steak and continue to cook on second side until charred and center registers 125 degrees, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to plate, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (or allow to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour).
5. Slice meat, against grain, on bias into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer sliced steak to bowl with fish sauce mixture. Add shallots, mint, cilantro, chile, and half of rice powder; toss to combine. Transfer to platter lined with cucumber slices. Serve, passing remaining rice powder and toasted paprika mixture separately.
Five Tastes of Thai Grilled Beef—and One More
One of the keys to this salad is balancing the signature flavor elements of Thai cuisine. In addition to achieving this, we added one more complementary flavor: the earthiness of toasted cayenne and sweet paprika.
HOT A fresh Thai bird chile creates bright, fruity heat in the dressing.
SOUR A generous 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice adds bracing acidity.
SALTY Derived from salted, fermented fish, pungent fish sauce acts as a rich ¬flavor enhancer.
SWEET A 1/2 tsp of sugar tames the dressing’s salty-sour flavors without becoming cloying.
BITTER Charred steak adds both a pleasing textural contrast and a subtle bitter edge.
EARTHY Ground cayenne and sweet paprika add earthy flavor without too much heat.