When I taught in Bangkok, I would spend the hours before my lunch break lesson planning for my afternoon classes, but mainly dreaming and drooling about what fresh, cheap Thai food I was going to eat for lunch.
Sometimes during our lunch break, instead of going across the street like we usually did to buy our lunch from one of the vendors lined up in a maze at the busy, loud market, my co-workers and I would walk in the opposite direction to a quiet spot where a Nam Tok Nua (aka Thai steak salad) street vendor had a stand.
The smells of roasted rice powder, Thai chili flakes, fresh shallots and lime freshened up the polluted air around us as we stood and waited for our Nam Tok Nua, which means waterfall in Thai.
The Nam Tok vendor would scoop the grilled beef, green onion, shallots and cilantro mixture out of a silver pot, and slide it into a clear, plastic bag and twist a rubber band around it, so it puffed out like a balloon. Then she would put the pure white sticky rice in a smaller clear plastic bag and fold the top over. All of it went into a white grocery bag, and she would gingerly place crispy fresh cabbage and vibrant green mint on top.
After picking up a creamy Chayen ( Thai iced milk tea ) at the next vendor up, we would head back to school to eat before our classes started. After getting white plastic bowls, forks and spoons from the kitchen area, we would dump our beautiful lunch into the bowls, sit down at small desks that would be soon filled with Thai and Korean kids who wanted tutoring, and dig in.
I loved grabbing the pure white sticky rice with my fingers and feeling it adhere to them like Elmer’s glue. Then I would swirl the sticky rice ball in the Nam Tok sauce, create a perfect bite of spicy, zesty beef, crisp shallots, fresh cilantro and vibrant green onion, pop it in my mouth and savor.
Thai Steak Salad Recipe
My mouth starts to tingle and long for my favorite Nam Tok street vendor to pop up in my kitchen right now, but Thai Hubby says he likes my Nam Tok recipe better than Thailand’s street vendors’ because we use skirt steak, and not fatty pork or beef like many Bangkok street vendors use.
The best part of Nam Tok is how the sticky rice complements the dish so well by soaking up the mouthwatering sauce. If you don’t know how to make Thai sticky rice, one method is to use splatter guards to make it, which you can learn all about here.
I love how quick this recipe is for an easy Thai week night dinner that is packed with flavor. All you have to do is chop up your green onions, shallots, cilantro, lime and pluck off your mint.
Then salt and pepper your skirt steak.
Grill the steak or cook on the pan for a few minutes.
And then throw in the rest of the ingredients to make a quick sauce, and mix it all together! Yay!
Give this Nam Tok recipe a try, and let me know your thoughts! My favorite place to hang out online is in Instagram stories! Share your Nam Tok photo with me @thaifoodie, I’d love to see it!Print
Thai steak salad is so full of flavor, it must be hard to make? Nope, I’m letting you in on a secret, it’s so easy! Pamper your loved ones with this easy recipe today!
- 1 c. sweet Thai rice*
- 1 pound skirt steak or boneless pork chops
- fresh lime juice from 2-3 limes
- 1 tbsp. roasted rice powder
- 2 tsp.-1 tbsp. Thai roasted chili powder, depending on spice preference
- 1–1.5 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 c.-1 c. water or broth
- 1 c. green onion, sliced to 1/4 in.
- 1 c. fresh cilantro, leaves coarsely chopped, and stems minced
- 2–3 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 c. fresh mint leaves
- If making sticky rice, soak sweet rice for at least 4 hours to over night, uncovered.
- Cook sticky rice using your preferred method while your meat is cooking. If it finishes cooking before the meat is done, make sure you keep it covered, so it will stay sticky.
- Salt and pepper your meat. Grill the meat to your preferred doneness.
- Or if you are like me and have no grill, get a cast-iron pan steaming hot, and then put in the meat. If using steak, I cook each side for 2-3 minutes for medium-well, and I always set my timer, so I don’t forget about flipping it.
- After the steak is cooked, let it sit for about 10 minutes.
- Thinly slice it. Keep the juices from the meat in the pan, or on the plate.
- Turn the burner to medium, add the sliced meat back into the pan along with water, lime juice, fish sauce, toasted rice powder and chili powder. Mix and taste until it reaches your preferred flavor. I like the lime in the lead, with the roasted rice powder, savory notes and chili following.
- Once the sauce has thickened a bit, turn off the heat and add the shallots green onion, cilantro and mint.
- Eat with sticky rice, and use your fingers if you want to eat it like they do in the Thai countryside!
*You have to use Thai sweet rice to make sticky rice. You can’t make Thai sticky rice with any other kind of rice. But if you don’t have it, have no fear! Just make your favorite kind of rice to eat with your Nam Tok Nua, like Jasmine rice, and enjoy!
- Prep Time: 4 hours
- Cook Time: 2-4 minutes