Asian Recipes/ Lunch/ Recipes/ Salad/ Vietnamese

Thai Beef Salad – Yum Nua

29/09/2020 (Last Updated: 30/10/2020)

Yum Nua is a delicious Thai Beef Salad that’s healthy AND packed with flavour! It features easy-to-find ingredients you can whip up into a colourful, refreshing salad in just 20 minutes.

Top down view of Thai beef salad next to a bowl of homemade salad dressing.

Why We Love This

We love the beautiful colours and textures in this salad. It’s the perfect blend of healthy ingredients, full flavour and quick prep time!

The tender beef, aromatic herbs and crisp veggies are all dressed up in a zingy homemade salad dressing, creating a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds.

Just like Miang Kham (Thai salad bites) and Panang Curry Paste, it has a delicate balance of spicy + sour + salty + sweet flavour – the secret to Thai cuisine!

It’s satisfying enough to serve as a main dish with fluffy jasmine rice, or on its own as a light and refreshing lunch.

Close up shot of Thai beef salad showing the ingredients.

What is Yum Nua? 

Also known as yam nua or yum neau, Thai Beef Salad is probably one of the most well known dishes in Thai cuisine. You’ll usually find it in and around Bangkok and other parts of Thailand, and in Thai restaurants around the world.

Like lots of dishes in Thai cuisine, this salad can often be very very hot from the use of Thai red chillies in the dressing. One of the best things about making this dish at home is that you’re in total control of the heat level.

What You’ll Need

For the salad:

  • Beef – We used thin veal steaks cooked medium rare for a speedy cook time and tender result. Some other good cuts include sirloin, porterhouse, or rump, but you can use any cut you prefer.
  • Salad – This recipe calls for fresh mint and coriander leaves, spring onions, red onions, tomatoes and cucumbers. We use seedless cucumbers if we can find them, which helps stop the salad dressing from becoming watered down, but it’s no big deal if you use regular cucumbers instead.

For the dressing:

With just 6 main ingredients, this Thai salad dressing is full of flavour and so easy to make. Along with lime juice, garlic and sugar (palm sugar, raw sugar or brown sugar), you’ll also need:

  • Fish sauce – This adds the perfect savoury kick to the dressing! If you’ve never used it before, check out our fish sauce guide for more info. Trust us, while it does have a strong smell in the bottle, it won’t taste fishy in the final dish. You can find it at Asian grocers or well-stocked supermarkets, usually in the international food aisle or near the soy sauce.
  • Lemongrass – You can use fresh lemongrass, jarred lemongrass, or frozen lemongrass. Check the freezers of Asian grocers for frozen lemongrass that is already finely chopped and ready to use. The flavour won’t be intense, but will still give that citrus hit to the sauce. We don’t recommend using dried or powdered lemongrass.
  • Thai red chillies – These small red chillies are much hotter than regular chillies, so you might like to go easy until you get used to the heat level.
Colourful vegetables and cooked beef in a bowl.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • For the freshest salad, keep the dressing separate until just before serving – especially if you want to take it as a work lunch.
  • Store any leftover dressing in the fridge for up to a week – you could use it as a dipping sauce for Crispy Thai Spring Rolls or Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls.
  • Make sure your the fry pan is nice and hot before cooking the steak. This will help it cook fast while sealing in the flavour to keep it juicy and tender.
  • Take things to the next level and cook your beef over a charcoal grill for extra succulent flame-grilled flavour. 

FAQs

Do I have to use beef?

You can replace the beef with any protein that suits your taste – why not try pork, chicken or tofu!

Can I make this salad ahead of time?

Definitely, just leave out the dressing until you’re ready to eat for ultimate freshness. You can enjoy the salad hot or cold.

How long will Thai beef salad last in the fridge?

We’d recommend eating this salad within a day or two, otherwise the lettuce, mint and coriander will start to wilt and go soggy.

Variations & Substitutes

  • Steak – Left over roast (beef or lamb) is a great substitute for steak if you need to use it up. Remember to cut it into small strips.
  • Add Onion – Add thinly sliced onion, fresh shallots or crispy fried shallots for extra flavour.
  • Adjust the Heat – Add more or less chillies depending on how hot you like it. If you don’t have small Thai red chillies on hand, you can substitute with regular red chillies, sliced jalapeños, or 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes.

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A bowl of Thai beef salad garnished with fresh chilli.

Thai Beef Salad – Yum Nua

Yum Nua is a delicious Thai Beef Salad that's healthy AND packed with flavour! It features easy-to-find ingredients you can whip up into a colourful, refreshing salad in just 20 minutes.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: Thai
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 124kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $15

Ingredients

For the beef

For the salad

  • 4-6 lettuce leaves
  • 100 g cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cucumber medium, halved and sliced into half moons
  • 1 fresh cilantro / coriander small bunch, stems and leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch mint chopped

For the dressing

Instructions

  • First up, heat the oil in a frypan over high heat. Season your steak with salt and pepper, then pop it in the pan. Sear for two minutes each side or until cooked to your liking. Set aside to cool before slicing into small strips. 
  • Assemble your salad ingredients as artfully or messily as you like. You can do this in a large mixing bowl or straight into your serving bowls according to your preference. 
  • In a small mixing bowl whisk together all of your dressing ingredients and give it good stir to allow the flavours to meld. Pour as much or as little dressing as you like!

Recipe Notes

Tips to get this recipe just right:
For the salad:
  • Beef – We used thin veal steaks cooked medium rare for a speedy cook time and tender result. Some other good cuts include sirloin, porterhouse, or rump, but you can use any cut you prefer. Make sure your the fry pan is nice and hot before cooking the steak. This will help it cook fast while sealing in the flavour to keep it juicy and tender. Take things to the next level and cook your beef over a charcoal grill for extra succulent flame-grilled flavour.  Left over roast (beef or lamb) is a great substitute for steak if you need to use it up. Remember to cut it into small strips.
  • Salad – This recipe calls for fresh mint and coriander leaves, spring onions, red onions, tomatoes and cucumbers. We use seedless cucumbers if we can find them, which helps stop the salad dressing from becoming watered down, but it’s no big deal if you use regular cucumbers instead.
For the dressing:
With just 6 main ingredients, this Thai salad dressing is full of flavour and so easy to make. Along with lime juice, garlic and sugar (palm sugar, raw sugar or brown sugar), you’ll also need:
  • Fish sauce – This adds the perfect savoury kick to the dressing! If you’ve never used it before, check out our fish sauce guide for more info. Trust us, while it does have a strong smell in the bottle, it won’t taste fishy in the final dish. You can find it at Asian grocers or well-stocked supermarkets, usually in the international food aisle or near the soy sauce.
  • Lemongrass – You can use fresh lemongrass, jarred lemongrass, or frozen lemongrass. Check the freezers of Asian grocers for frozen lemongrass that is already finely chopped and ready to use. The flavour won’t be intense, but will still give that citrus hit to the sauce. We don’t recommend using dried or powdered lemongrass.
  • Thai red chillies – These small red chillies are much hotter than regular chillies, so you might like to go easy until you get used to the heat level. Add more or less chillies depending on how hot you like it. If you don’t have small Thai red chillies on hand, you can substitute with regular red chillies, sliced jalapeños, or 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes.
Other Notes
  • For the freshest salad – Keep the dressing separate until just before serving – especially if you want to take it as a work lunch. Store any leftover dressing in the fridge for up to a week – you could use it as a dipping sauce for Crispy Thai Spring Rolls or Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls.
  • Add Flavour – Try adding thinly sliced onion, fresh shallots or crispy fried shallots for extra flavour.
     

    Nutrition

    Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 1317mg | Potassium: 732mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 4959IU | Vitamin C: 73mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 2mg
    Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
    Thai Beef Salad - Yum Nua

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    3 Comments

  • Reply
    Danielle
    07/06/2018 at 10:14 pm

    5 stars
    Loooove the flavors here!! Thai beef salad is one of my favorite salads, and this is perfect for the upcoming summer months. And so easy to make 🙂

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      10/07/2018 at 6:09 pm

      I know right! Nothing beats a refreshing salad on a hot summer day unless it’s also a spicy one! 😀

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