Yum Nua - Thai Beef Salad

This is my mom's specialty. I hated it as a little kid, but now I adore it and make it often. It was hard to nail my mom's recipe down to measurements, but we figured that this was the closest we could get without saying "eyeball" it. The flavors are the classic Thai mix of salty, sour, sweet and spicy.

8 -10 ounces New York strip steaks (about 1 1/2 in thick)
salt and pepper
1⁄2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1⁄4 cup shallot, sliced thin
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro stems, and leaves
1⁄4 cup mint leaf (loosely packed to measure and then, chopped)
1 medium cucumber, seeded and sliced
4 -6 romaine lettuce leaves, for serving
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Thai chiles, minced (more or less depending on the heat desired)
2 tablespoons very thinly sliced lemongrass, crush slices with the back of knife after slicing
1 1⁄2 teaspoons palm sugar or 1 1⁄2 teaspoons light brown sugar, can be substituted
2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
2 1⁄2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Start making the dressing by crushing the minced garlic and bird chili peppers together against the cutting board with the flat side of your knife to make a paste.
Put this paste in a small bowl and add lemongrass, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar.
Whisk together to combine and set aside.
To cook the steak, heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
Sear the steak on one side and continue to cook 5-6 minutes.
Turn over steak and cook for another 5 minutes or until medium rare or medium.
Remove from heat and let stand on cutting board for 5 minutes.
After meat has rested, slice steak very thinly.
In a large bowl, add beef (and any juices left on cutting board), mint, shallots, cilantro and cucumber.
Pour the dressing on top and toss gently.
Line a serving platter with romaine leaves and pile beef salad on top.
Serve with rice if desired.
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