The inspiration for this dish originally came from a Vietnamese recipe I came across for a salad of pork and shrimp. Aside from replacing the pork with thin slices of Japanese Tataki Style Beef, I ended up changing the heavily acidic, lime juice based dressing to something quite different. Accordingly, I ultimately strayed so far from the original production that the resemblance is purely coincidental, as they say. It really can no longer be called a Vietnamese dish, exactly, but it is certainly Asian in spirit…
- 1/2lb. pre-grilled Beef Tataki cut across the grain into thin slices;
- 1/2lb. small pre-cooked Shrimp;
- 1 – 2 Baby Cucumbers, sliced cross-wise into thin rounds;
- ¼ cup shredded fresh Mint;
- ½ tsp. Garlic Puree;
- ½ sp. Sugar;
- 1 tsp. Rice Vinegar;
- 1 ½ tbsp.. minced green Chili (I used Jalapeno);
- 1 tbsp. Fish Sauce;
- 2 Tbsp. Oil of your choice (I used Peanut oil as I wanted something neutral);
- ½ tsp. Salt;
- 1 pinch White Pepper.
First, make the dressing by mixing together the garlic, sugar, vinegar, chili, fish sauce, oil and pepper. You can do this step well in advance but a minimum of one hour is advised so that the flavors can meld. You can, if you want, add the mint at this time but doing it when you assemble the salad will help preserve some of the pretty green color as well as the earthiness of the fresh leaves.
Here you can see the basic size of the beef fillet I grilled and the rough size of the slices. They probably should have been cut a bit thinner, and square pieces might have been prettier on the whole. As you can see, the meat is very rare and one could even try he dish with raw beef for a slightly different effect.
The shrimp I used were from one of those super-market pre-cooked shrimp cocktail rings. This was not a first choice, by any means, but rather something I had on hand that needed using. The shrimp are of the small 40-50 count size while 30 count shrimp would have been better. I also would have liked to have started with raw shrimp and briefly sautéed them, if peeled, or lightly poached and then peeled them if unshelled.
Toss the cucumber slices with the salt and let them sit for a half hour or so until nicely wilted. Afterwards, rinse away all the excess salt and juices and the squeeze dry.
Finally, toss the shrimp, beef and cucumber together with the dressing (and the mint if you haven’t added it already). Let it sit for 20 minutes or so to blend the flavors and the serve either chilled or at room temperature on individual plates (the amounts here are really only enough for two).
My wife and I really enjoyed this. The flavor could maybe use a little tweaking but generally it worked nicely. Many people may prefer a little more tang, either from more vinegar or else some lemon or lime, but I actually prefer it this way. The size and cut of the main ingredients could be improved for a prettier end-result but I think it looked rather good as is. In any event, this is a basic idea that I think one could have fun improvising with…