An Asian-American classic

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Peanut butter is a great ingredient – both delicious and versatile. It’s one of those things that I sometimes forget about and find a jar lurking in the back of the fridge. I’m not a fussy one either – I’m just as happy with Sunpat as I am with the premium organic varieties, although it must be the crunchy one though.
I’m a big fan of the American classic PBJ – the combination of peanut butter and jam on buttered toast is a thing of greatness.  Peanut butter is the key addition alongside chocolate in my peanut butter brownie cookies.
 
They use it in the Victoria kitchen to make a fantastic ice cream – peanut butter is mixed into the traditional custard base and served on a devilishly dark cookie.

A chocolate and peanut butter milkshake is one of my guilty pleasures.

Peanut butter does make a great savoury ingredient too – and it was as a last minute addition to the classic South East Asian salad dressing of lime juice, chilli, fish sauce and palm sugar that it now comes before you.

A very large pestle and mortar are ideal here, but a whisk and bowl would work equally well.  Feel free to replace the beef with grilled chicken or even fish.

Thai beef salad with peanut dressing

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 sirloin or fillet steaks weighing approx 200g each
  • 4 tomatoes or 8 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ a cucumber
  • 1 red onion or 10 thai pink shallots
  • A couple of handfuls of bean sprouts
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • Handful of chopped mint
  • 1 tsp ground rice (method below)

For the dressing

  • 2 tbs palm sugar
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1-2 bird’s eye chillis
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 4 tbs peanut butter

Method

First make the ground rice. This is traditionally done with sticky rice but feel free to use basmati. Toast the uncooked rice in a frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes until golden brown. Crush in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder until you have a fairly fine powder. Set aside.

Cook the steaks on a griddle to your liking – I’d suggest medium rare for this recipe.
To make the dressing, crush the chillies in a pestle and mortar. Use one if you don’t like it too hot. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and gentle bash it together. It will look like it won’t come together but then suddenly it will. Taste the dressing as it may need more fish sauce or lime juice.

Quarter the tomatoes, seed and dice the cucumber, finely slice the red onion and mix together with the bean sprouts and the herbs. Add half the dressing and toss to coat. Place the salad on a plate and then slice the steak and put this on top of the salad. Drizzle with the remaining dressing, scatter over the ground rice and serve.

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