The traditional cuisine of Thailand and the paleo style of eating are a match made in heaven and this paleo Thai steak salad is an easy way to create a hearty paleo-friendly dinner entree that is packed with flavor. It is also very easy to modify to make compliant with the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP) and is naturally relatively low FODMAP, so it is a great choice for people who are following a healing diet for digestive or other concerns yet flavorful enough that the whole family will enjoy it.
I was first introduced to Thai cuisine when I was a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in the late 1990s and my inexperienced palate was still stretching beyond the meat and potatoes fair of my midwestern youth. Trivia note for you… the University of Wisconsin has a highly respected Thai studies program and has one of the largest Thai student populations of any college or university in the United States. As such there is a special and long-standing relationship between the city of Madison and the government of Thailand, including the city receiving the gift of a gorgeous Thai pavilion, approved by the Thai royal family.
At that first Thai dinning experience, I remember my companion ordering spring rolls served with a delicious peanut and my mind simply being boggled by the menu, searching for familiar words and phrases and eventually settling on a mild curry dish that featured coconut milk, chicken, and potatoes. It was love at first bite and I soon became a regular at my neighborhood Thai takeout place. I’ve tried Thai restaurants everywhere (though not in Thailand itself – hopefully someday!) and though they are tasty, none quite measure up to my memories. Instead, I’ve started recreating the flavors in dishes at home and been much happier – plus I know that the ingredients are gluten-free and of the best quality. We make some variation of this steak salad with Thai flavors over and over and it is always a crowd pleaser.
Notes for healing diets:
- The Paleo Approach (TPA) or the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP): If you are following the recommendations in Sarah Ballantyne’s book The Paleo Approach for an autoimmune elimination diet, you will want to skip the optional red pepper flakes and omit the optional cashews.
- Low-FODMAP: Use a teaspoon of coconut palm sugar instead of the honey and be careful of the garlic. The small amount may be tolerable by some, but others will want to omit it.
- Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD): Coconut aminos is not listed on the official legal/illegal list and is therefore presumed illegal, though there is a great deal of controversy on this topic within the SCD community.
Learn more about these healing diets:
- Coconut aminos is a soy and gluten free alternative to soy sauce. You can find it at most health food stores or order online.
- Make sure you get a paleo-friendly fish sauce. My favorite source for this and other amazing paleo goods is the gorgeous website Barefoot Provisions! They also carry raw organic cashews that are actually REALLY raw, unlike most you’ll find in mainstream supermarkets.
Paleo Thai Steak Salad Recipe:
- 2 8 ounce New York strip steaks, boneless rib-eye steaks, or other steak cut (preferably grassfed beef)
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- OPTIONAL: ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried ginger
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil
- salt and fresh ground pepper
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and then sliced into thin ribbons with a julienne slicer or vegetable peeler
- 1 medium head romaine lettuce, cut into 1-inch ribbons (or other hearty lettuce)
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves
- ¼ cup fresh Thai basil leaves
- ½ cup fresh bean sprouts
- OPTIONAL: ¼ cup chopped cashews
- Place steaks in a shallow dish for marinating. Whisk together lime juice, coconut aminos, honey, fish sauce, spices, and oil.
- Season the steaks with salt and pepper and then pour about one quarter of the marinade over the steaks and turn to coat (reserving the remaining marinade). Allow steaks to marinate for 1-4 hours in refrigerator.
- Remove steaks from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and sear the steaks for 2-3 minutes on each side for medium rare (cook longer if you desire a greater degree of doneness).
- Transfer steaks to a cutting board and let rest for about 5 minutes, then slice the steaks into ¼ inch thick slices.
- Toss steaks with the reserved marinade.
- Assemble salads by putting lettuce and carrots in four individual bowls, arranging the steak slices with marinade over top, and then garnishing with the herbs, bean sprouts, and optional cashews.