Thai Beef Salad

This is a summer dish in Thailand which is often served as an appetizer. It is incredibly flavorful, bursting with umami notes using a zesty dressing. It is becoming more popular in other countries as well and just about every Thai restaurant will have this on their menu. It is meant to be shared so I will be making a recipe for 4 people here.

This is 2 lbs of beef skirt steaks cut into thirds.

The primary ingredient of this salad is of course, beef. For those that think a salad must only be vegetarian in nature I assure you this is an authentic Thai dish and is considered a salad in its country of origin.

The first step is to marinate the beef in a mixture of light soy sauce and black pepper. Only 2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce is needed and maybe 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper for 2 lbs of meat. Let the meat sit for 1 hour in the marinade, covered and refrigerated.

The vegetable part of the salad will include cucumber, tomato, shallots, scallions, cilantro and baby spring greens. The limes are for the dressing.

You will want to peel the cucumber, seed and then dice it. Chop the tomato into chunks too. Chop the shallots well but don’t mince them. And wash the cilantro and pull the leaves off. We want about a cup of packed leaves which we will coarsely chop. Cut 3 scallions into 1″ pieces.

Squeeze the juice from 2 whole limes into a cup and add a round teaspoon of sugar. To that add a teaspoon of minced lemon grass and 1/3 cup of fish sauce and 2 tablespoons of thin (Thai) soy sauce. This will be our dressing.

Thai Beef Salad dressing consisting of fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar and minced lemon grass. The oil you see on the surface is from the lemon grass.

Mix the dessing well to dissolve the sugar. Our next step will be to grill the meat.

I put the bigger slabs on first as they need to cook longer.

This is a matter of personal taste but I like to cook the meat for this medium-medium rare. You can cook yours to your own prepared doneness. Most Thai restaurants will cook the meat well by law which is a shame.

The meat is just about done here.

I like to get a good sear on the outside of the steaks. Here I have used skirt steaks though many sites will recommend flat iron steaks. I like skirt steaks for their tenderness.

The meat is done and now needs to rest.

You will want to rest the meat for a good 10 minutes before you cut it. Cover the meat with foil while it rests.

Keep the meat under foil for 10 minutes while it rests.

After the meat has rested for a full 10 minutes you can slice it. I like to make pieces no bigger than about 2″ long and about 1/3″ wide. There will be lots of juice from the meat after it is grilled and cut. Do NOT waste this! Put that into the bowl as well.

Medium Rare-Medium cooked skirt steak sliced into thin strips.

Put the meat in a mixing bowl and add the other ingredients except for the spring greens.

I add the shallots first and mix in by hand. You can wear gloves for this.

I add the shallots first, then the scallions, cilantro, cucumber and tomatoes.

Here I have everything but the tomatoes and cucumbes added.

After the tomatoes and cucumber, mix the dressing well and drizzle it over the mixture. Mix well using tongs or your hands. I like to add a teaspoon of pepper flakes at this time and mix that in too but it is up to you. To serve, use a large serving dish and make a bed out of the spring greens and ladle the Beef Salad over the greens.

Ready to eat, let each diner spoon out what they want. That incredibly savory dressing means they will even eat the sald greens to get all that good flavor.

That fantastic dressing ensures that diners won’t just eat the meat and skip over the greens. They will want every savory drop of that dressing with whatever it touches. This is one of my favorite dishes and the dressing does not taste like fish despite having fish sauce as a main ingredient. Just a deep umami goodness.

Thai Beef Salad (serves 3-4 as a main course or 6-8 as an appetizer)


  • 2 lbs skirt or flat iron steak.
  • 2-3 cups spring greens, washed.
  • 2-3 large shallots chopped well
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves washed and coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 tomatoes diced (depending on size)
  • 3 scallions cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced.
  • juice from 2 whole limes
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 5 tablespoons thin soy sauce divided (Thai soy sauce).
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes or 1-2 minced fresh Thai chili peppers (optional)
  • 1 tsp minced lemon grass stalk or paste (available from some grocers in a tube)
  • 1 round tsp white sugar


  • Marinate 2 lbs steaks for 1 hour covered in the refrigerator in a mixture of 3 tablespoons thin soy sauce and 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper.
  • Grill steaks to desired doneness (medium rare or medium-medium rare works best).
  • Mix lime juice, fish sauce, lemon grass, 2 tablespoons of thin soy sauce and sugar in a cup until sugar is dissolved.
  • Cut vegetables as needed.
  • After meat is cooked, allow steaks to rest for 10 minutes covered.
  • Slice meat into bite sized strips and add to a mixing bowl along with all the meat juice that is produced.
  • Add remaining vegetables to the mixing bowl (except for spring greens).
  • Drizzle the lime and fish sauce dressing into the mixing bowl and mix well by hand or with salad tongs.
  • Add red pepper flakes or minced Thai chilis if desired.
  • Cover a large serving plate with the spring greens and spoon the beef salad mixture over the top.
  • Serve.



Author: Suburbanwok

Don Lowery is an IT professional, devoted husband and father with a passion for cooking that stems back to spending his childhood in Bangkok Thailand and then moving back to the United States. For more: About Suburbanwok

2 thoughts on “Thai Beef Salad”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.