The other day I was shopping at the local market when I saw some hangar steak in the meat case. It’s a cut of beef that literally hangs off the diaphragm of a cow, which is probably where it got its name. With a ragged bloody appearance, it looks about as appetizing as it sounds, but hangar steak is hands-down the most flavorful cut of beef.
Thanks to it’s small-size and funky appearance it was one of those cuts of meat you could get as scraps from the butcher for next to nothing, but as it’s garnered the attention of chefs, it’s gone from “garbage” to gourmet, with prices to match. That’s why I like using it in salads like this where a small amount goes a long way.
While hangar steak is incredibly flavorful, it can be a little tough, which is why I like to marinate hangar steak with natural meat tenderizers like kiwi and ginger. Add to that a potent spread of Thai aromatics and fish sauce, and you end up with some intensely flavorful meat loaded with mouth-watering umami. On its own, it might even be over the top, but paired with creamy avocado and sweet mangoes on a bed of crisp greens, you have yourself a nuanced homage to the tropics with contrasts that create a sublime equilibrium between the five tastes.
Tropical Beef Salad
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1/8" slice ginger, chopped
- 3 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
- 1/2 kiwifruit, peeled
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 9.2 ounces (260 grams) hangar steak, sliced
- lime zest from half a lime
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 2 mangoes peeled and cubed
- 2 avocado peeled and cubed
- salad greens (such as mâche, mizuna, or arugula)
- 10 sprigs cilantro
- Use an immersion blender to puree the garlic, ginger, lime leaves, lemongrass, kiwifruit and fish sauce. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can just mince all the ingredients as finely as possible. Then mash them together with the kiwifruit and fish sauce.
- Pour the marinade over the beef and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or preferably overnight.
- To make the dressing, whisk together the lime zest, lime juice, fish sauce and sriracha.
- As soon as you've peeled and cubed the mango and avocado, toss them with about half the dressing. The lime juice will help keep the avocado from changing color.
- Fry the beef in a hot skillet with a little oil until the marinade caramelizes on one side, flip and brown the other side. The beef will be well done, but if it was marinated for long enough it should still be very tender thanks to the kiwi.
- To serve, put down a bed of salad greens and cilantro and then top with the mangoes, avocados and beef. Finish with a drizzle of the reserved dressing.
Yield: 4 appetizer salads
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.