I'll be subletting my apartment while I'm away at school, so I've been working my way through all my food before I go. For a hyper-efficient pantry scrounger like me, this is a delightful challenge. The goal: eat everything.
It started with some great meals - the shrimp, sliced okra and homemade tomato sauce lurking in my freezer turned into a surprisingly good gumbo-esque situation, the dregs of sweet chili sauce perked up a pile of Chinese egg noodles, broccoli and cashews, and a handful of quinoa made the perfect foil for an egg, soy sauce and some frozen peas. I was on a roll, things were tasting good, and I wasn't spending a dime.
And then, I hit a wall. Canned tuna plus olives plus half a red pepper left me chasing after my work friends heading out to Chipotle for lunch. Frozen pepperoni makes a pathetic substitute for prosciutto. And bulgur plus black bean sauce will not, unfortunately, be the next big thing in fusion cuisine.
And then, I found it. A perfect, fat filet mignon in the freezer, hidden by an aging bag of cherries. I still had a few wilted green onions, a shallot, and half a box of brown rice noodles - the perfect start to a Thai Beef Salad. So I splurged. Cherry tomatoes, Serrano chile, cucumber and lettuce brought some life-affirming crunch back into my kitchen. The flavors are big, spicy, and fresh. A much needed treat after the bulgur incident.
If you've never cooked with rice noodles, this is a great way to start, since the dish is served room temperature or cold. They fall apart pretty quickly once they're cooked, so cool preparations are much easier to deal with. Its delicious and easy enough for a crowd-pleasing dinner party centerpiece or a super-fast weeknight dinner.
Thai Beef Noodle Salad
Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 20 min Cook Time: 20 min Total Time: 40 min
8 oz /225 g rice noodles
Juice of 2 limes, plus 1 lime for serving
2 Tbs fish sauce
1 tsp sugar or agave
.25 cup / 60 mL beef or chicken broth
1 large shallot, sliced into rings
1 lb / 450 g boneless beef sirloin steak
salt and pepper
1 tsp cooking oil
4 handfuls salad greens
1 small cucumber, sliced thin
1 serrano chile, sliced thin
3 green onions, sliced thin
8 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of cilantro leaves
Fill saucepan 2/3 with water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and steep rice noodles til soft, 5-6 minutes. Check them after 4 minutes - different brands of rice noodles can have drastically different cooking times. Drain and cover with cold water to prevent sticking.
Combine lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and broth in a bowl. Add shallots and marinate while you cook the beef. This will lightly pickle the shallots, removing some of the bite.
Heat oil in skillet on medium heat til sizzling. Season steak with salt and pepper. Cook, about 4-5 minutes per side for a 1" steak. Remove from skillet and let coast, 10 minutes.
Drain noodles. Toss with shallots and dressing. On a large platter, arrange noodles, lettuce, cucumber, chile, green onions, tomato and cilantro. Slice steak and fan over the noodles.
Serve with limes on the side.