Updated: Sep 21, 2021
The Isaan steak salad comes from Northern Thailand and often goes by the name Neua Naam Tok, or waterfall steak salad here in the US. Overall this is a pretty simple recipe with clean, spicy, herbaceous and umami rich flavors. I decided to pair this with crispy pig ears, I flavor combination that I discovered by accident while traveling through Thailand a few years back. While sampling food from various street vendors, I ended up with crispy pork in one hand and a waterfall salad in the other and that's when the fireworks happened.
For the Steak
3 teaspoons thinly sliced lemongrass (only tender parts)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 teaspoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces venison steaks (loin, tenderloin or sirloin cut to 1/2" thickness)
For the Dressing
tablespoons freshly lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh stock (pig ear stock, venison stock or beef stock)
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons chile powder
4 tablespoons thinly sliced lemongrass (tender parts only)
For the Salad Garnish
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots or red onions
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems
2 teaspoons rice powder (can find in Asian markets or on Amazon)
For the Crispy Pig Ears
4 pig ears, hair removed
high smoke point oil for frying
Pressure cook the Pig Ears. In a pressure cooker set at high pressure, cook the ears for 1.5 to 2 hours or until the the ears are able to be pierced easily with your fingers. Remove the ears from the water, dry off and place in the refrigerator to chill until time to fry.
Marinate the Steak. Mix the marinade ingredients together well in a small bowl. Coat the venison steaks well and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour to marinate.
Pre-heat your cooking oil. Pre-heat the oil to 350 degrees F. It will be used to cook the pig ears after you cook the steaks.
Cook the Steaks. The flavor of these steaks cooked over charcoal will definitely make this dish shine, but searing in a hot pan is suitable. Just be sure not to cook passed a medium internal temperature, or you'll be left with some tough meat. Let the steaks rest while you fry the ears.
Fry the Ears. Make sure that the ears are completely dry and place into the 350 degree oil. Cook for about two minutes or until the ears are very crisp. You'll more than likely experience some popping oil from the ears, so be cautious. Set them aside to cool on paper towels.
Make the Dressing. Place all of the dressing ingredients into a microwavable bowl. Cook until it is just warm, about 30-45 seconds depending on your microwaves power.
Make your Salads. Slice the steaks across the grain at about 1/4" thickness. Toss the steaks with the salad garnishes and enough dressing to coat the mixture. Place the salad on top of the crispy pig ears and drizzle with more dressing if desired. Eat with your hands or cut it up with a knife & fork and enjoy.