Beat Salad Fatigue With This Paleo Thai Beef Salad

Photo: Tatiana Boncompagni

Well+Good’s recipe writer Tatiana Boncompagni is a wellness reporter, group fitness instructor, and mom of three based in New York. She’s also the co-founder of Sculptologie. She believes that truly good food nourishes both the body and the soul, and that healthy food should be easy to make and even easier to enjoy. 

In warmer weather, chances are that you just naturally crave a big 'ol plate of greens. But in winter, it's normal for your love affair with salad to wan. The key to getting your relationship back on track when your beloved kale, avocado, and A.C.V. combo isn't bringing you quite as much joy as it used to? Switching up your combo.

Thinking out of the box helps me stay excited about what's in my bowl and it's also more nutritious, because it means there's a wide variety of vegetables and other foods, which helps cover all the phytonutrient bases.

This Thai beef salad was inspired by a trip I took a couple winters ago to Phuket. It's fresh and bursting with exotic flavors, and is satisfying enough that I could serve it to friends as a meal in itself, no sides necessary. (It’s also gluten-free, dairy-free, and Paleo-friendly.) Instead of the usual greens, the salad base is made of aromatic herbs—mint, cilantro, and scallions—as well as baby bok choy and red cabbage for crunch and roughage (key for keeping things moving in the digestive track). The dressing is made of garlic, ginger, spicy Thai bird eye chillis, and a dash of fish sauce for that savory, umami richness.

I don’t eat a lot of beef, but when I do, I usually opt for specific cuts of meat such as the flat iron, petite fillet, or A.C. strip. All of these cuts come from the shoulder of the cow which makes the meat, as my local Fleischers butcher once explained to me, super tender. Why? Cows don’t use their shoulders much (Have you ever seen a cow raise their arms?), so they don't have a lot of muscle there.

Think of these cuts as more affordable filet mignons or beef tenderloins. I also try to consume mostly grass-fed beef to get more omega 3s (some say grass-fed beef has double the amount as corn-fed) and because it means the cow was more likely to have been pasture-raised and lived a healthier, happier life.

Want to try it for yourself? Keep reading for the recipe.

Thai Beef Salad
Photo: Tatiana Boncompagni

Thai beef salad

Feel free to play with this recipe to make it your own. Swap in different vegetables, try chopped almonds instead of peanuts, or use chicken instead of beef, or throw in some rice noodles if you want.

Serves 4


1 large Ziploc plastic bag
1 1/2 lb  petite fillet beef
4-5 cloves garlic, divided
1 3-inch knob of ginger, peeled and chopped, divided
4 Tbsp toasted sesame seed oil, divided
2 Tbsp fish sauce, divided
1 bunch of scallions, washed and thinly sliced (white and light green part only)
1 bunch of mint, washed, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, washed, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
1 small red cabbage, washed and shredded
2 medium baby bok choy, washed and cut in slices
1 large yellow pepper, washed, deseeded and cut in slices
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
4-5 Thai bird eye chillis, crushed
1 jalepeno, washed and finely sliced
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
2 limes, cut in half

1. Cut the beef into half-inch wide strips. Place them in a plastic bag or container with half of the garlic, ginger, two tablespoons of sesame oil and one tablespoon of fish sauce. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes.

2. In a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat, cook marinated beef, about two minutes per side. Remove from skillet and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, toss to combine scallions, mint, cilantro, cabbage, bok choy, and pepper. Set aside.

4. In a small bowl, combine remaining garlic, ginger, one tbsp sesame seed oil, one tbsp fish sauce, rice wine vinegar and crushed chillis.

5. Toss together beef, salad, dressing, peanuts and jalepeno. Divide among four plates. Serve each with one half lime.

If you're looking for more new salad recipes, try this take on a classic chicken caesar or this innovative salad with tea-leaf dressing.

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