Beginners Cooking Class - Thai Beef Salad

Book: Beginner's Cooking Class
Pages: 120
RRP Price: £5.99
ISBN: 9781863961653
ASIN: 1863961658
Release Date: 30th April 2000
Recipe Rating:
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Another one of my extensive Australian Women's Weekly collection of cookbooks. In fact, Beginner's Cooking Class (oddly without the apostrophe - apostrophe police such as myself beware!) is somewhat a misnomer. The recipes aren't particularly geared towards beginners per se, and in fact I'd say some of the examples in this book can be considered quite challenging. Whilst that's certainly not the case with this Thai Beef Salad, the challenge is actually in sourcing the ingredients. Naturally (considering the publishers) the book originated in the Antipodes, and with their fusion Native versus Pacific Islands cuisine, I would imagine the average Perth-based housewife would have no problem wandering to her equivalent of the cornershop and grabbing everything that is listed.

Being a West London resident, I was thankfully able to get my hands on most ingredients, being bus rides from many world supermarkets. Should I be living back 'home' in the south Lake District, this recipe would have been constructed with serious compromises. As it was, I bent the rules and was relatively close to the author's intentions. Or so I hope.

Remember when you were little and your parents would chide "Eat this and it'll put hairs on your chest"? Well, I can confirm that Thai basil leaves will do precisely that. Furthermore, the garlic dressing in this recipe will grow you locks that would shame Marouane Fellaini and slap you in the face for having the effrontery for being so effeminately British. These are flavours so bold they'll laugh at your puce-coloured cheeks as you manfully attempt to maintain some decorum, and cook a snook as you lurch towards the nearest beverage to wash it down.

Changes from Published Recipe

The recipe was for four, so I by and large halved the ingredients. In fact the book suggests 400g rump steak, whilst I generously 'halved' to 250g, which turned out to be barely adequate. My feeling is 600g for four hungry diners may be closer to requirements.

As mentioned previously, the ingredients were difficult to track down. Some success, some compromises:
White Onion - I remember when all supermarkets used to stock these. Now they certainly don't in west London. I got mine from North End Rd, Fulham.
Lebanese cucumbers - Another North End Rd purchase.
Thai chillies - I went to a Thai supermarket and they had normal birds eye chillies, so that's what I used.
Thai basil leaves - Thai Smile, Ravenscourt Park near Hammersmith.
Vietnamese mint leaves - Rather confusingly I discovered that these are also called Vietnamese coriander leaves. I used conventional English mint.