waterfall beef salad

I feel like I should write something, but I’m not really sure what I want to write about. Ann Lamott says that the only way forward in this situation is to write a shitty first draft that embarrasses me so much that I pray I don’t get hit by a bus (and die a second death of embarrassment) before I can edit it. So I’m writing.

She says it might help to think of writing about a short scene, a scene that can be viewed through a one-inch picture frame. Hummm.

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I’m not sure it’s helping. I’m staring at a water pitcher on my kitchen table, thinking it looks a bit like a penguin and wondering if I can turn that into something interesting. I’m thinking about how my brain is tired from answering customer support tickets and that perhaps I’ve used up all of my daily allotment of words there. Or maybe I’ve got nothin’ because this dish was Jordan’s idea, he cooked it and I’m really just the messenger.

So, waterfall beef salad. I don’t know much about it other than they serve it at a few of the Thai places in our neighborhood and it is tasty. Lime juice + fish sauce + toasted rice = winning combination. I also know that it’s nice on these hot summer-turning-into-fall days that global warming has been sending our way lately. 85°+ F is hot. And San Francisco has turned us into wimps.

Now I’m going to spare you the rest of this shitty first draft and just give you the recipe. It really is good though, honestly.

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Waterfall Beef Salad
8 oz of rib eye steak or for a more economical option, 8 oz of 80/20 ground beef (I go easy on meat portions, 3-4oz per person. Smaller portions means we can buy better quality)
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
several green onions, sliced
a handful of cilantro, chopped
1 bell pepper, sliced (optional)
a few tablespoons toasted rice powder (instructions below)
cooked white rice for serving

For the dressing
2-3 limes, juiced
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 shallot, diced
1/2 – 1 hot pepper sliced very thinly (we used dried thai chili, but any hot chili will do. Use caution it will get spicy)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce

Cook about a cup of white rice in your life-saving rice cooker or in a pot on the stove. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing. The longer the dressing can sit, the better. If you’re using steak, season your beef on both sides.

Put two tablespoons of uncooked white rice in a dry pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the rice is toasted. Let the rice cool slightly and then grind into a powder using a blender or food processor. You want a very fine powder. Toasted rice power adds a really wonderful nutty flavor to the dish, and even though it adds a bit of extra work, I would not skip it.

Assemble your salad fixins. Slice your romaine, green onions, cilantro and bell pepper. Toss together in a large bowl and set aside.

Heat a heavy bottomed skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. When your pan is quite hot, put in your steak. Cook for a few minutes on the first side, and flip and cook for a few more minutes. How long you cook your steak depends on how thick your steak is—such genius tips on this blog! Ours was about 1/2 inch thick and cooked in about 3 minutes per side. If you’re not sure, use a thermometer. It should read 140° F.

If you’re using ground beef instead, cook it in a pan over medium heat, but use a spatula to move your meat around, making sure it cooks evenly throughout. As it’s cooking, season it with a little salt.

Let your steak rest.  Meanwhile toss your salad with the dressing. Top with the steak (or the cooked ground beef) and toasted rice powder. Serve the salad over rice, making sure to pour a little extra dressing from the bowl over the steak, salad and rice. That sour-spicy rice, it’s the best part.