Steak Salad with Thai Dressing

By Jeri Mobley-Arias
August 24, 2023 | Updated on January 31, 2024

Tender marinated beef is the star of the show in this steak salad recipe, paired with a quick and easy Thai dressing. Learn how to make steak salad and enjoy it for lunch or dinner, as a filling, flavorful meal.

For more steak recipes, Steak Bowl with Pepper Soy Butter Sauce, Chimichurri Steak, Hanger Steak with Aleppo Chili Oil, and Steak Crostini with Horseradish Cream next.

plated steak salad

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This isn’t your typical steak salad. This recipe is protein-heavy, with thin slices of juicy steak over a simple mix of fresh herbs, cilantro, tomatoes, and shallots.

With a luscious drizzle of Thai salad dressing, this dish is elevated from standard salad fare to a tantalizing marriage of sweet, savory, tangy, umami flavors. With an optional topping of toasted rice powder, you get a subtle crunch for even more taste and texture.

Why This Thai Steak Salad Recipe Works

  • Not a Boring Salad Steak salad is a delicious departure from standard steak salad recipes. For one, the ratio of steak to vegetable is essentially 1:1. Swap feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette for Thai flavors, and this beef salad is downright irresistible!
  • Easy to Make Learn how to marinate and cook New York strip steak perfectly each time with this straightforward recipe.
  • Versatile – There are many ingredients and flavor components in this recipe, but there are also plenty of opportunities to customize this salad to make it your own. Add your favorite veggies or make it spicy; the choice is yours!
plated steak salad

What is Thai Beef Salad?

Thai beef salad (also known as Yum Nua, Crying Tiger Beef Salad, Waterfall Beef Salad, or Nam Tok) is a popular dish in Thailand and Thai restaurants around the world. This dish combines grilled or seared slices of beef with a variety of fresh herbs, vegetables, and a bright and umami-rich dressing. It’s known for its vibrant colors, bold flavors, and a balance of sweet, sour, spicy, and savory elements.

Thai beef salad dressing over NY strip steak

Tools You’ll Need

Ingredients You Will Need for Steak Salad

Most of these grilled steak salad ingredients are pantry staples if you make Thai cuisine often.

  • NY Strip Steak – This is the best steak (next to ribeye, of course) for salad. It is a popular and flavorful cut of beef that comes from the short loin of the cow. It’s known for its tenderness, rich beefy flavor, and fine marbling, which makes it a favorite among steak enthusiasts. Ensure it is 1-inch thick for best results.
  • Avocado oil – Use this to cook the skillet and also for the steak marinade.
  • Garlic cloves – Grated with a microplane.
  • Lime juice – The acid helps to break down the meat.
  • Light soy sauce – Do not confuse this with reduced sodium. This is the one I use.
  • Granulated sugar – This acts as a tenderizer.
  • Three Crabs Fish Sauce This imparts a sweet, salty flavor that enhances the sauce.
  • Water –
  • Ground white pepper – This is a mild alternative to black pepper with grassy undertones, and a spice that is often used in Thai cooking.
steak marinating in a pan for thai beef salad

Thai Beef Salad Dressing

  • Quality olive oil – This enhances the flavor and texture of the salad dressing.
  • Lime juice – A pop of citrus flavor brightens the dressing and balances the more savory elements.
  • Shallot – Minced and added for a little bite.
  • Fresh herbs – Use finely chopped fresh mint and cilantro (and cilantro stems).
  • Three Crabs Fish Sauce This imparts a sweet, salty flavor that enhances the sauce.
  • Granulated sugar – Added for sweetness.
  • Light soy sauce Not to be confused with reduced-sodium soy sauce, light soy sauce is all all-purpose soy sauce.
  • Glutinous rice powder – This is an optional ingredient. See instructions.
a bowl of thai beef salad dressing

Salad

  • Cherry tomatoes – Quartered.
  • Fresh Herbs – Use lightly chopped fresh mint and fresh cilantro. Adds a brightness to the salad
  • Shallot – Thinly sliced.
  • Little jem lettuce – Optional if you prefer more greens.

Sticky Rice

sticky rice in a steam pan for Thai beef salad

Rice Powder (optional)

  • Glutinous rice – Toast sticky rice in a pan to make a crunchy, nutty topping. It’s like an Asian alternative to croutons.

How To Make Thai Beef Salad

Marinade your steak up to one day in advance, and then all you have to do is cook the beef, whip up the dressing, and assemble your steak salad.

Steak

  1. Add marinade ingredients to a bowl stir. Pat dry steak then add to the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight up to 24 hours. If making glutinous rice, see the steps below as the rice will need to soak the night before.
  2. Remove the steak from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking and place on the counter. While waiting for the steak to come to temp, proceed with the dressing and glutinous rice. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat for 5 minutes. The skillet should be smoking, meaning it will be ripping hot before adding the steak.
  3. Remove as much marinade from the steak as possible then pour about 2 teaspoons oil on one side of the steak. Place the oiled side down on the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side for medium-rare, flipping halfway through. Be sure to sear the fat cap just until golden brown. Use an instant-read thermometer for a reading of 130°F – 135°F for medium rare. See above post for the steak doneness guide.
NY strip steak cooking in a skillet

4. Transfer the steak to a plate and lightly cover with foil. Leave to rest for 5 minutes. Slice into ¼ – ½ inch thick strips, cutting against the grain.

sliced NY strip steak on a cutting board

How to Make Thai Beef Salad Dressing

Add all steak salad dressing ingredients to a bowl, mix, and set aside.

Glutinous Rice

  1. Rinse rice 6-8 times until water runs clear. Place in a medium-sized bowl and add enough water until it’s two inches above the rice. Cover and leave to soak for overnight, up to 24-hours (the longer, the better).Drain rice well then transfer to a cheesecloth lined steaming basket (see photo above). Spread the rice so as to make small mound then cover with the lid.
  2. Add water to a skillet then place steaming basket on top. Bring water to a boil over high heat then lower to medium heat. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until rice is cooked through (check the rice in the middle for doneness). Check water levels midway through cooking in case more water is needed. Keep covered until ready to eat.

Rice Powder

Add rice to a skillet over high heat. toast until golden brown. Use a mortar and pestle to grind to a fine powder. Transfer leftovers to an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Assemble Steak Salad

In a bowl, add tomatoes and sliced shallot. Pour a ¼ cup dressing and mix. Leave for 1 minute then add sliced steak and more dressing. Mix. Top with desired amount of mint, cilantro, and dressing and mix. Garnish with more mint and cilantro leaves. Finally, enjoy!

plated steak salad

Cooking Time for Steak

The steak in this salad recipe is cooked to medium rare. When prepared this way, the beef is moist and juicy but you can cook to your desired doneness.

  • Rare – 2 minutes per side
  • Medium Rare – 2 ½ – 3 minutes
  • Medium – 3 – 3 ½ minutes
  • Medium Well – 3 ½ – 4 minutes
  • Well-Done – 4 ½ minutes
cooked NY strip steak in a clear bowl

Tips and Tricks for the Best Steak Salad

  • Don’t skip the marinade. This adds flavor and enhances the texture and best if marinated overnight.
  • Remember to take the marinated steak out an hour before cooking so it comes to room temperature. If the steak is still cold, the beef will cook unevenly.
  • Allow the steak to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. This helps the juices redistribute, resulting in a juicier steak.
  • If you have leftovers, store each component separately in airtight containers. The salad lasts up to 2 days; the steak for 4 days; and the dressing up to one week.
close up view of plated Thai beef salad

Steak Salad Variations

  • Steak – For comparable beef, use ribeye, flat iron steak, flank steak, skirt steak, or sirloin steak as substitutes.
  • Lettuce – Swap little gem lettuce for mixed greens, baby greens, or romaine lettuce.
  • Vegetables If you want to add more fresh veggies, try cucumbers or shredded carrots.
  • Herbs Try it with lemongrass or Thai basil.
  • Spicy Thai Beef Salad – Add Thai chili peppers for more heat.
  • Rice as a Side – Although glutinous rice is traditional for Thai beef salad, you can use jasmine rice as a substitute.
  • Thai Beef Salad with Noodles – Swap sticky rice for vermicelli noodles.
sliced steak and lettuce in a bowl

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Thai salad dressing made of?

The dressing is a key component that brings together the flavors of the dish. It typically includes a combination of lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sometimes a touch of sugar.

How long does it take to fry a steak in a pan?

Steak cooks within 2-5 minutes on both sides, depending on your desired doneness. For medium-rare steak cook for approximately 2-3 minutes on both sides. Steak is considered medium-rare when it reaches an internal temperature of 130°F – 135°F.

What are the 4 types of Thai salads?

The four types of Thai salads are yam (spicy Thai salad), tam/tum (papaya salad), larb (minced meat salad), and pla (spicy shrimp salad). 

plated Thai beef salad

Looking for More Salad Recipes?

Loving this Steak Salad Recipe?

There’s a reason this easy Thai beef salad recipe is loved by all! Leave a comment below and share your love for the best steak salad on Instagram and Pinterest. We love to see you get down in the kitchen. Thank you for supporting Whisper of Yum and happy eating!

plated steak salad

Steak Salad with Thai Dressing

Tender marinated beef is the star of the show in this steak salad recipe, made with a quick and easy Thai dressing. Learn how to make steak salad and enjoy it for lunch or dinner, as a filling, flavorful meal.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Marinate Overnight 8 hours
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Jeri Mobley-Arias
Course Dinner
Cuisine thai

Equipment

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Skillet
  • Instant Read Thermometer
  • Steamer Basket
  • Microplane Grater
  • Mortar and pestle optional is making rice powder

Ingredients

  • pounds NY strip steak, 1-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated with a microplane
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • teaspoons light soy sauce (not reduced sodium)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Three Crabs fish sauce
  • ½ tablespoon water
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • avocado oil, for skillet

Dressing

  • ¼ cup quality olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • tablespoons shallot, minced
  • tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
  • tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • tablespoons Three Crabs fish sauce
  • ½ tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ tablespoon light soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon glutinous rice powder, (optional), see instructions
  • 2 teaspoons cilantro stems, finely chopped

Salad

  • 6 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • cup fresh mint, lightly chopped
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • cilantro, lightly chopped
  • 2 heads little jem lettuce, optional

Sticky Rice

  • 1 cup glutinous or sweet rice, Three Sisters brand

Rice Powder (optional)

  • ¼ cup glutinous rice

Instructions

Steak

  • Add marinade ingredients to a bowl stir. Pat dry steak then add to the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight up to 24 hours. If making glutinous rice, see the steps below as the rice will need to soak the night before.
  • Remove the steak from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking and place on the counter. While waiting for the steak to come to temp, proceed with the dressing and glutinous rice.
    Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat for 5 minutes. The skillet should be smoking, meaning it will be ripping hot before adding the steak.
  • Remove as much marinade from the steak as possible then pour about 2 teaspoons oil on one side of the steak. Place the oiled side down on the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side for medium-rare, flipping halfway through. Be sure to sear the fat cap just until golden brown. Use an instant-read thermometer for a reading of 130°F – 135°F for medium rare. See above post for the steak doneness guide.
  • Transfer the steak to a plate and lightly cover with foil. Leave to rest for 5 minutes. Slice into ¼ – ½ inch thick strips, cutting against the grain.

Thai Dressing

  • Add all dressing ingredients to a bowl, mix, and set aside.

Glutinous Rice

  • Rinse rice 6-8 times until water runs clear. Place in a medium-sized bowl and add enough water until it's two inches above the rice. Cover and leave to soak for overnight, up to 24-hours (the longer, the better).Drain rice well then transfer to a cheesecloth lined steaming basket (see photo above). Spread the rice so as to make small mound then cover with the lid.
  • Add water to a skillet then place steaming basket on top. Bring water to a boil over high heat then lower to medium heat. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until rice is cooked through (check the rice in the middle for doneness). Check water levels midway through cooking in case more water is needed. Keep covered until ready to eat.

Rice Powder

  • Add rice to a skillet over high heat. toast until golden brown. Use a mortar and pestle to grind to a fine powder. Transfer leftovers to an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Assemble Salad

  • In a bowl, add tomatoes and sliced shallot. Pour a¼ cup dressing and mix. Leave for 1 minute then add sliced steak and more dressing. Mix. Top with desired amount of mint, cilantro, and dressing and mix. Garnish with more mint and cilantro leaves. Enjoy
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plated steak salad

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jeri-mobley

Hey, I'm Jeri!

At Whisper of Yum, we explore ALL cuisines - comfort foods, classics, elevated originals. If you love food like me, I invite you to settle in to this place, where swoon-worthy food is attainable + inspo for your next meal awaits.

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