Balancing Act: Thai Steak and Glass Noodle Salad

Thai cooking is all about balance, which is true for many Asian cuisines (and cultures, I suppose. Something about that whole yin and yang concept...) Like good music, a dish works when all its elements blend harmoniously. On the other hand, contrast is also important to keep it from being too bland and one-note.

Take this salad for example. The sweet honey, sour lime, and salty fish sauce in the dressing mingles with the mellow warmth of the chili flakes. It coats and blends the flavours of the noodles and fresh vegetables. But the coolness of the noodles, heat of the steak, and crunch of the cashews ensure that your diners are anything but bored after a few bites.

This delicious salad is perfect for a refreshing dinner during the last fleeting moments of summer. Satisfaction (although not Enlightenment) guaranteed.

Thai Steak and Glass Noodle Salad
Serves 6
  • 10 1/2 ounces glass noodles*
  • 4 cups boiling hot water
  • 1/2 cup Basic Sauce, recipe follows
  • 1/2 jicama*, julienne
  • 1 carrot, julienne
  • 1/2 green papaya*, julienne
  • 1 mango, cubed
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and cubed
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Thai basil* leaves, chiffonade
  • 1/2 cup Spicy Dressing, recipe follows
  • 3 strip steaks (6 to 8 ounces, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick)
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • *Can be found at specialty Asian markets.


Soak the glass noodles in the hot water for 5 minutes, stirring gently to separate and loosen the noodles. Strain the softened noodles.
Using a pair of scissors, snip the noodles into shorter lengths. Toss the jicama, carrot, green papaya, mango, cucumber, cilantro, and basil with some of the Spicy Dressing. Mix the dressed vegetables with the noodles. (Preferably store in the fridge for 1 hour so flavours can mingle)

Lightly coat the steak with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook steaks in a hot saute pan (I used cast iron), 2 minutes per side for medium-rare, 3 minutes for medium. Remove steaks and allow to rest, covered with foil, for 5-10 minutes. Thinly slice steaks.

Mound noodles onto a plate and arrange steak over top. Sprinkle with bean sprouts, mint, and cashews.
Drizzle with more of the Spicy Dressing.

Spicy Dressing:
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce*
1 tablespoon oyster sauce*
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
*Can be found at specialty Asian markets
Special equipment: a blender or food processor
In a blender combine the honey, lime juice, fish sauce, oyster sauce, chili flakes, and garlic.
While the blender is running add the vegetable oil in a slow steady stream.
Once all the oil has been added continue to blend for 1 minute, until the dressing has emulsified.
Store in a tightly sealed container, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe adapted from the Cookworks at Food Network
Image property of beetsandbites

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