Not surprisingly, I love South East Asian food. I really love Thai salads in particular. I love how they are spicy and sour and I just love the combination of lime juice and fish sauce.
One type of cuisine I’m not particularly familiar with though, is Cambodian. When I came across this recipe in Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey, I was curious to see how it differed from Thai salads and so I had to try it.
I was pleasantly surprised – it has a very strong flavour (you probably want to serve it with rice or noodles) and is very refreshing. It’s one of those “no-cook” recipes as you cure the beef in a lime juice mixture and don’t apply heat to any part of the dish.
It has subtle differences to any Thai salad, particularly because of the use of fish/shrimp paste (I used shrimp paste) and bean sprouts. I really enjoyed it and if you want to try something a bit different to the usual, I encourage you to have a go!
Pleah saiko – cured beef salad with lemongrass, peanuts and basil
For the beef:
5 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp palm sugar
1 stalk lemongrass, core very finely chopped
10g finely chopped garlic
400g piece of sirloin steak, trimmed of all fat
For the dressing:
1/2 tsp Cambodian fermented fish paste (prahoc) or shrimp paste
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp palm sugar
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 red bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
For the salad:
100g shallots, very thinly sliced
100g fresh bean sprouts
15g each fresh mint leaves and Thai sweet basil, shredded, plus a few extra for garnish
50g roasted peanuts, chopped
For the beef, mix the lime juice, sugar, lemongrass and garlic together in a large glass bowl. Very thinly slice the steak across the grain, add to the lime mixture and toss together well. Leave to marinate for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the dressing, mix the prahoc or shrimp paste with a little of the fish sauce in a small bowl until it is well combined, then mix in the rest of the fish sauce, the sugar, lime juice, garlic, chilli and 2 tablespoons of water.
Pour away the excess marinade from the beef, add the shallots, bean sprouts, mint, basil and half the chopped peanuts and mix together well. Pour over the dressing and toss together once more. Spoon onto a serving platter and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts and a few extra mint leaves and basil leaves.
Serve straight away, at room temperature.