Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Most Amazing "Salad". Ever.

My favorite restaurant in Boston is Houston's.  I think it's now called Hillstone, but to me, it will always be Houston's.  Nearly four years ago, I went to dinner with a few coworkers and ordered their Thai Beef Noodle Salad.  I was probably trying to watch my weight, hence the salad order (even though any good calorie counter knows that salads are disguised  caloric terror attacks), but what came out to me didn't even contain a single piece of lettuce. 

Instead it had thai noodles.  And mango.  And avocado.  Juicy cherry tomatoes.  Delicious pieces of fillet - perfectly seared. Cilantro.  And was that Mint?  Swooooooon.  All mixed in a sweet dressing, with just the right amount of spicy-ness.  Every bite was an amazing flavor party in my mouth. 

I have never felt the need to order anything else from Houston's since.  Why bother?  I've tried their ribs, sushi, fish - but nothing will ever come close to their Thai Beef Noodle Salad.  This dish singlehandedly gets me in the door every time I think about having a fabulous meal out.  I have been there on first dates, birthday dinners, parents in town dinners, random weekday nights.... sometimes the craving call just needs to be answered.  Sometimes you just need to make up a reason to go and "celebrate".

The dish costs a $18 so it is clearly not an everyday purchase.  I have searched high and low for a copycat recipe to make at home.... and finally, I stumbled across it on Epicurious.com.

And it was pretty freaking amazing.  I share it's glory with you:

Dressing:

3 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha or similar chile paste
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil (I subbed vegetable oil with success)

Salad Ingredients:
1/2 pound filet mignon, cut into chunks
1 ounce Chinese egg noodles, cooked al dente
1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
1 shredded carrot
1 diced mango
1 avocado
1/3 cup diced tomato
2 sliced scallions
2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
1/2 cup combination of chopped cilantro, mint, and Thai basil
 
This salad is a labor of love, as there is a ridiculous amount of chopping involved.  Best to have a sous chef with you in the kitchen to do some of the manual labor.  (Besides, then you have someone to help with all the dishes.  I am learning this the hard way.) 
 
Chop up all your salad ingredients, keeping in mind that precise measurement isn't all that crucial.  At the same time, throw a pot on the stove and chef up those chinese egg noodles.  I went to Chinatown to purchase mine, but if you can't find them, I think angel hair pasta would substitute as a "good enough".  Once they are cooked al dente, strain through cold water to chill.  Set aside.
 


A little work goes a long way in the prep of this dish.
  
Once all your ingredients are prepped, fire up either a hot pan or the grill and chef up some steak baby!  Simple is better here - some salt/pepper and high heat.  I like my steak medium rare.  Once the steak it ready, you're ready to make the final step:  The Dressing. 
 
Throw all your ingredients into a bowl.  Noodles should be light, cabbage should be plentiful.  Tomatoes, avocado, mangoes away to your hearts content.
 
Let the pictures do the talking......
 


The colors.  The freshness.  Yum.
  


 
This was worth every bit of effort and every dime spent in recreating.  Utterly Fabulous.

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