Warm Thai Beef Salad

Warm Thai Beef Salad

Annie Douglass made this for Opening Day on ‘Nerang’ one year, beautifully presented on a huge serving dish, right down to the chilli flowers, one of which Dad actually ate! Or it can be simply tossed.

The salad ingredients vary enormously from the mundane to the exciting. Warm roast fillet of beef tastes wonderful at any time with a Thai dressing, but the dish should contain some more exciting ingredients than tomato, capsicum, onion and chilli. Snake beans, if in season, are perfect, chopped peanuts almost a must. Snow peas are good too. Think about adding some grated green papaw, some ruby red grapefruit segments with their membranes removed so that you get little droplets of red grapefruit through the salad. Coriander and mint are, of course obligatory. Without them you might as well leave out the beef. Above all it should taste fresh.

750g piece of eye fillet of beef, well trimmed
1 clove garlic, crushed
Peanut (preferably), or canola oil
1 cup fresh coriander leaves, shredded
½ cup fresh mint, shredded
½ – ¾ cup chopped peanuts
2 baby red chillies, seeded and very finely sliced
6 shallots, finely sliced

¾ cup fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 dessertspoon oyster sauce
Sugar to taste

Salad Ingredients:
Choose from the following, trying to make the selection as interesting as possible:
Snake beans
Snow peas
Water chestnuts
Cherry tomatoes
Salad onion, sliced
Bean sprouts
Red capsicum, sliced
Garlic chives
Grated green papaw
Segmented ruby red grapefruit, membranes and seeds removed

Rub the beef with oil and garlic and roast in a pre-heated oven to rare or medium rare (about 20 minutes, depending on thickness). This should be done as close as possible to serving time so that the beef is still warm when served.

Blanch the snake beans in boiling water for 1 minute, drain and plunge into cold water to stop them cooking further. Strain and cut if desired. Top and tail the snow peas and remove strings. Blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds and plunge into cold water to stop them cooking further. Strain and combine with the snake beans. Slice the water chestnuts and the capsicum. Chop the garlic chives as coarsely as you like. Grate the green papaw if using, outer part of the fruit only. Peel the grapefruit, divide into segments and carefully remove seeds. Ease out the little ‘capsules’ of grapefruit, trying not to squash them as you do so.

Slice the beef as thinly as possible. Either arrange on plates or place in a bowl with other salad ingredients. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, coriander, mint, chilli and shallots. Pour dressing over the whole salad.

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Red duck curry made from barbeque duck

We usually make red curry of duck with the meat of a barbecued duck purchased from Chinatown after the duck has been relieved of its skin for duck pancakes. There is no reason why you should not use a duck you have cooked yourself, and there is no reason why the skin shouldn’t go into the curry! That said, the spices added to a Chinatown duck do give it an extra dimension – and of course it is so much easier!

This is a Thai curry and Thai curries don’t normally have vegetables in them. However somehow onion wedges seem to have crept into ours and they do give the curry a nice crunch.

For the sweet element, we use either lychees in syrup or John West mandarin segments in syrup. Both work well.

1 onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 x 400ml can coconut cream
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
1½ tablespoons Thai red curry paste
Meat (and skin, optional) from 1 Chinese roast duck, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or to taste)
1 can lychees in syrup, or 1 can mandarins in syrup
A few kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon coriander, roots, stems and leaves finely chopped

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok and cook the onion wedges until transparent but still crunchy. Remove from wok and set aside. Tip excess oil from the wok.

Tip the coconut cream into the wok and cook until it cracks. (Cook until the oil separates from the cream.) Add the red curry paste and cook for about 1 minute, then gradually add the coconut milk. Bring slowly to the boil.

Drain the lychees or mandarins but don’t discard the liquid.

Add the reserved onion wedges, the duck meat, the lychees or mandarins (but not the syrup), the fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves and coriander.

Test for balance of flavours. If not salty enough, add more fish sauce. If not sweet enough, add a little of the syrup from the fruit.

Serve with jasmine rice.


Peking duck pancakes

True Peking duck pancakes are, of course the first part of three that are served when you order Peking duck at an Australian restaurant. (In China, I understand, the skin is cut from the duck, and the meat removed from the bones and cut into small rectangles. These are then arranged on a serving platter, between the legs and the wings to create a symbolic whole duck. The bones are then made into duck soup. Pieces of meat as well as skin can be rolled into Chinese pancakes much as they are served here.)

We make Peking duck pancakes at home really only when we intend to make a red duck curry from the meat of a barbecued duck bought from Chinatown, because the skin is not required for red duck curry. Given what you pay in a restaurant for this as a starter, it’s such a waste not to do it for guests.

If I were intending to serve duck pancakes as finger food for a party, I would probably use tiny savoury pancakes instead of the true steamed Chinese ones, and might top the pancakes with duck meat, rather than duck skin, and slivers of fruit, or with plum sauce instead of the traditional hoisin sauce.

1 barbecued duck from Chinatown
1 packet Chinese pancakes from Chinese barbecue in Chinatown
1 bunch green onions
Hoisin sauce

Firstly, prepare the green onions. These can be simply be cut into strips, or they can be “frilled”. To do this, cut the white part of the green onion into approximately 4cm lengths, then with a sharp knife, cut 1.5cm deep slits all around both ends of the green onion, leaving about 1 cm of solid green onion in the centre. Place them in a bowl of iced water and leave them in the refrigerator for about an hour. The ends will curl and stiffen making balls of green-white ‘frills’.

We have recently discovered that re-heating the duck helps to separate the skin from the meat and also helps to re-crisp the skin. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees and wrap the duck in al-foil. Reheat in the oven for approximately 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and using a flexible knife, cut the skin away from the duck. Don’t pull it as it will tear. The skin should have some meat attached.

Heat the pancakes by folding them in half and placing the folded pancakes onto a plate and steaming them in a traditional Chinese bamboo steamer, or by placing them in a microwave steamer (with water) for about two minutes.

To serve, smear a pancake with hoisin sauce. Place a piece of duck skin onto the pancake, top   with a green onion strip or frill, roll up and serve.