Food escapades in modernist cuisine

Num Tok: Sirloin, Iceberg, Thai Vinaigrette

This past weekend my wife and I had lunch at our go-to-spot in Brookline, Dok Bua. I usually always order the usual suspects like pad thai, pad see you, moo yang...but this time I decided to switch it up and order something new. We were having an early lunch and I wasn't that hungry, so I decided to go with something lighter and ordered DB's num tok salad per the waiter's suggestion. Oh man - what a discovery! So good!

 Here's Dok Bua's version:

I enjoyed the salad so much that I was intent on re-creating it, and tonight we did. After work, my wife stopped by the Chinese supermarket and picked up some lime, scallion, red onion, garlic, thai chilis, cilantro and mint.

To make the dressing, we first used a mandoline to finely shave the red onion. This is important because no one likes to eat big chunks of raw onion - you just want a slight hint of onion in each bite. Next, we finely chopped one scallion stalk, two cloves of garlic, and one thai red chili. Keep in mind that this will be pretty spicy even using only one chili. If you don't like spice, only use half or remove some of the seeds. Alternatively, you can also use chili powder or flakes, which should further tone down the heat. We then combined the juice of one lime with roughly equal parts fish sauce and then added in the chopped ingredients.

We had iceberg lettuce on hand but you can also use romaine instead. Just make sure you use a crisp lettuce with some texture and crunch.

Meanwhile, we cooked up some sirlion tip using the same method as described in this previous post. After sous viding the meat, we then did a quick sear in a hot pan. This time I actually used no oil in the pan, and the meat browned up nicely in no time - I think I'll actually do this from now on.

After I seared the meat and while the steaks were resting, we mixed the dressing into the chopped lettuce and added in some cilantro and mint.

Here's the final result. Our version is plated a little differently with the steak fanned out on the side of the salad as opposed to mixed together with it, but the flavors were spot on and nearly identical. I never thought I'd ever say I was addicted to a salad, but indeed I am. This salad is super healthy in that it has no oil whatsoever but it's incredibly flavorful from the umami bomb that is fish sauce, acid from the lime juice, heat from the chili, some sharpness from the garlic and onion, and then fragrance and aroma from the fresh herbs. The salad has some sodium from the fish sauce but I repeat, it has NO OIL! The steak could also easily be substituted for some poached or sous vide chicken or turkey breast to make it even healthier for the dieter. Go make this dish now!

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