Friends, I am gorging on salad. Partly because my gym membership ran out and did bad things to my waist, but also because I’m moving to Kenya, a land where eating a salad is kind of like playing Russian roulette with your intestines. I’m not a fan of cholera, and safe salads are usually expensive or hard to come by. (That said, the peel-able produce — mango, banana, papaya — is magnificent.)
Hence, I am sharing with you here my favourite dinner salad, inspired by Pioneer Woman. In terms of mass it’s mostly steak, so it’s really only a salad in the sense that the basis of the dish is a load of lettuce. BUT you can say you’re having salad for dinner and feel virtuous as you tear into a pound of rib-eye. Sorry to those of you who don’t eat meat, you’ll have to sit this one out… or I bet it would be good with tofu. NOT.
First, marinate your steaks, at least 45-90 min before you want to eat. I do one whole steak per salad, but that’s because I am a greedy, greedy carnivore. You could definitely get away with half a steak per person. For one rib-eye (or something fancier if you’re not a recovering grad student), combine in a Ziploc bag:
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sherry or white wine
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Now toss your steak in there. If you’re using more than one steak, just use common sense to scale this up — you probably don’t need to double it for each steak, they just need to be surrounded by marinade goodness. Turn the bag over periodically to ensure an even application of flavah.
Make your salad dressing ahead. This is enough to dress two large salads. The longer it sits and the flavours bleed together, the better. Combine:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp lime juice*
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tsp jalapeno, seeded and diced (or more if you can HANDLE IT)
For the salad, combine in individual bowls:
- lettuce (romaine, mixed greens, whatever)
- cherry tomatoes
- green onions
- soft goat cheese (that stuff that comes in a tube with herbs or black pepper all over it)
Once you have your salad assembled and your steaks have been marinating for long enough, you’re ready to cook. First, toast some sesame seeds. You can leave this part out with no grave consequences, but I think it’s worth it for the minimal effort. Toss your sesame seeds into a dry frying pan (about 1 tbsp per salad), put it on medium heat and toss them around periodically, until they go golden-y. Do not walk away. They will be fine, fine, fine and then all of a sudden BURNED. Remove from heat and set aside.
Now cook your steak. Put a frying pan on medium-high, spray it with a bit of non-stick. Put your steak(s) in there with some of the marinade juice, and cook to taste. Personally I like my steak still totally raw and bleeding and mooing in the middle, which is only about a minute (or less) of searing on each side. But we’re not all fans of raw flesh, so you do what you gotta do. This salad really does sing if you use tender, less-cooked meat though, if you think you can possibly handle it.
When the meat is done: remove from frying pan and slice into thin strips. Dress your salad(s). Slide the meat on top, and top with some of the marinade reduction (from the frying pan, NOT the Ziploc), and then sprinkle your toasted sesame seeds on top.
The first time I had this salad I actually felt the need to bring it up as a topic of conversation in the days that followed, it’s that good. I hope you feel the same way. Mail me one in Nairobi, won’t you?
P.S. Lime-related rant:
* you can substitute lemon juice for lime, but please don’t. I am huge, huge fan of lime juice. I think it’s one of those ingredients that adds a certain je ne sais quoi to a dish — it’s the same category of ingredients as cilantro or butter. You can substitute but it’s never the same.