To make this Thai-style beef salad for four, you will need:
- 500g rump
- 4 whole baby lettuces
- 2 baby bak choi cabbages
- 1 supermarket punnet of watercress (optional but very nice)
- 15 mint leaves
- 4 spring onions
- 1 shallot or standard pickling-sized onion
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
- 1 non-English cucumber (try Israeli)
- Fish sauce (Thai or Vietnamese)
- 2 limes
- Red Tabasco
Rinse all raw green leaves and spin them in a salad spinner or other domestic centrifuge to remove excess water. Break off the individual leaves and discard the bitter stems. Tear the mint leaves by hand. Chop the spring onions, greens and bulbs together. Finely chop the shallot or tiny onion. Squeeze the juice from the limes and remove the pips. Remember, a lemon is not equivalent to a lime; substitute only if you really have to.
Now for the great cucumber debate. An English cucumber is an irregular green tube filled with water and lightly flavoured pulp. Some anti-English cucumber activists would say ‘flavourless’. The way out of this crisis is to locate Israeli or Palestinian cucumbers which are smaller and have a better flavour. That’s the Holy Land cucumber for you: a tiny fragment left over from the Garden of Eden.
Cut these vertically and discard the pips to reduce the amount of liquid, which will otherwise dilute the flavours. Swiftly toast the sunflower seeds in a hot dry frying pan then remove and reserve.
Now for the non-plant part of the deal. Get your butcher to cut the steak so that it is 25mm to 30mm thick. Lightly rub a little olive oil over the meat then rub in some freshly crushed black pepper. Heat a heavy-based frying pan or, better still, a cast-iron pot until extremely hot. Drop in the steak, wipe the smoke from your eyes and turn the steak every 10 seconds for four to five minutes.
Remove, wrap in alumimium foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes. This allows the temperature to standardise throughout the steak and mobilise the juices.
While this is going on mix the lime juice with the fish sauce in a 3:2 ratio and add a dash or two of Red Tabasco.
Plating time. Using room temperature dishes, arrange a couple of layers of green leaves with the spring onions, chopped, regular non-spring onion, mint leaves and sliced non-English cucumbers as layer three. Thinly slice the rare steak and make this layer four. Sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds and non-toasted sesame seeds. Drizzle the meat juices plus the lime juice-fish sauce mixture over the entire concoction. Serve and wait for the compliments.