Oh-So-Good Thai Salad with beef (Yum Nua)

This is a free interpretation of the traditional Thai beef salad Yum Nua that I have been cooking for years and I just LOVE it.

For this amazingly simple but balanced, warm and spicy asian-inspired salad with beef, there are some things we need to get right from the very beginning. First off, get a good piece of meat, preferably with a nice fat content, or, like in this case, get your hands on an awesome beef tenderloin, also called filet mignon. Tenderloin has the particularity of always staying nice, juicy and full of flavor, unless you kill it three times -please don’t do that to a nice piece of meat.

Here you have the ingredients. I’ll get to the preparation shortly.

Ingredients (serves 8)

For the marinade/dressing
6 limes
· Sweet chilli sauce (100ml)
· Soy sauce (50ml)
· Nam pla (thai fish sauce) 3 or 4 drops
· Coriander (5 or 6 sprigs)
· Chilli to your linking. Fresh, cayenne, vietnamese, flakes, whatever you have around
· Freshly ground pepper
· Garlic (1 clove)

For the salad
Coriander. As fresh as you can get it. Around 100 grams
· Cucumber. 2 big ones or around 300 grams. I prefer using small cucumbers or, even better, Lebanese cucumbers, which are small but pack a bunch of incredible, fresh flavour.
· Spring onions. Around 10, depending on size and always with lots of green stuff
· Cherry tomatoes. Around 300 grams.
· Your meat of choice
· Bean or soy bean sprouts (optional)


First off, get you stuff together. This recipe has several steps and you should get organised. Have everything at hand, clean your station and sharpen your knife. These to me are the first steps for a successful cooking time.

Thai Beef Salad
Get your stuff together

Juice the limes. In order to get more juice out of those babies, just roll them between your hand and the counter applying a bit of pressure. You can also put them in the microwave for 10 seconds.

Break the coriander sprigs with your hands -don’t use a knife-, grind the garlic and add it all to the lime juice.

Add the soy sauce, the nam pla and the sweet chilli sauce and mix well. Grind a bit of fresh black pepper. Taste it for saltines and more soy sauce if needed.

Finally, add some of the chopped chilli, as much as you like.

The sauce is key!
The sauce is key!

Use part of the dressing to marinate the meat. Place the meat on a container and add some of the liquid on top. Rub it all well and make sure all the meat is nicely covered with liquid. Close the container and put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours to get the best taste. Turn it around every 30 minutes if you can.

To the rest of the dressing we can add more spices if we want. I like my stuff spicy so I always add a bit more chilli. This will be used as a dressing for the salad so, once it is done, reserve in the fridge.

Coat the meat well in the liquid
Coat the meat well in the liquid

Now you can start cutting the veggies and tomatoes as you can see in the photos. I personally like cutting them like this but obviously you are free to chop your stuff however you want.

This way of cutting it allows for a perfect bite-size
This way of cutting it allows for a perfect bite-size
Everything's better with coriander
Everything’s better with coriander
Yummy, sweet, fresh cherry tomatoes
Yummy, sweet, fresh cherry tomatoes
There it is!
There it is!

And so you have your salad ready. You can leave it like this for an hour or so or until your guests arrive. Don’t add the dressing until a minute before you serve it.

And now the start of the dish.

First of all, dry the excess liquid off the meat. Use some paper towels to get the best results. Place the meat on a very hot skillet with a bit of vegetable oil and sear the exterior until you get the right color. It should look nicely brown and caramelised. 2-3 minutes on each side will do the trick.

What can I say...
What can I say…

Place the meat in the oven at 200ºC / 392ºF for 8 to 10 minutes.

Take the meat out of the oven and let it rest on a board or rack for another 8 minutes. This will allow for all the juices to stay in the meat and it will also help you slicing it later.

Little slices of goodness
Little slices of goodness

Now just place the meat slices nicely over the salad, top it with some more fresh cilantro and chilli and ENJOY!

Can't wait to start eating it!
Can’t wait to start eating it!


Best salad ever
Best salad ever

Serve warm or cold. Sip a good beer with it. Enjoy and Salud!

2 Responses

  1. Antonio Graves

    I love your recipes, the pictures to go along with the step by step instructions are great. You’ve made it so easy that people actually think that I can cook now haha. Thanks!

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