As the warm weather kicks in, I find myself cutting down on my lunch size and go more for appetizers and finger foods. I am craving fresh, vibrant and packed with flavors food..And lots of ice cream. If only I could cut down on my ice cream too 🙂 I am hopeless.
Last week, I made these amazing Thai beef salad cucumber bites appetizers. I was inspired by Tamara’s from Beyond Mere Sustenance post about cooking without recipes, using flavor profiles (I don’t know if you had the chance to read her post, but you should 🙂 For sure you’ll find some great information on how to make your dishes more interesting without following a step by step recipe).
After reading her post, I was so curious what kind of pantry staples I have and what cuisine would those represent and…most important, how would I combine them to get an amazing dish without using a recipe. I like so many dishes from so many different countries and I usually have a little bit of everything…To my biggest surprise, you can always make a Thai dish with every day ingredients found in my pantry/ fridge. Ha! Who knew?! Chilies, coriander, garlic, fish sauce, palm sugar, limes, ginger, etc.
Almost every Thai dish starts with a paste made from shallots, garlic, and red chilies (or green ones). Then you start adding spices and herbs (like coriander, ginger, lemongrass and if possible, lime leaves) to round up that uniquely Thai flavor. Then, you add small quantities of fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar (if you don’t have it, use brown sugar) and pay close attention to how the flavors change as you add each ingredient. The whole secret stays in balancing those flavors just right…not too sweet, not too salty, not too spicy.
You are going to love these Thai beef salad cucumber bites! You can serve them pretty much on every occasion: brunch, lunch/dinner party or birthday party. Or you can enjoy them as I did, on a regular weekday!
- 1/2 lb beef steak
- salt and pepper
- 1 large cucumber sliced into thick rounds
- 2 medium shallots finely diced
- 2 red chilies seeds removed and finely diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in quarters
- 1 tablespoon fresh coriander roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
- juice from 1 lime
Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over high heat. Season the steak with salt and pepper and cook it for 3-4 minutes on each side, if you like it medium rare. If you prefer your steak well done, allow up to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and allow to rest 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, gently toss cherry tomatoes, diced chilies, chopped coriander, shallots, brown sugar, lime juice and fish sauce. Taste and adjust if necessary to get the perfect balance.
Thinly slice beef steak into strips and add to bowl and gently toss. Place small portions of the mixture onto each cucumber slice.
Serve immediately or refrigerate.