meat label decoder

Last week was my husband’s birthday and I wanted to cook him one of his favorite meals. That particular meal, a Thai beef salad, obviously uses beef. It doesn’t take much, so I’m easily able to splurge on the best, most humane, most organic I can find. However, trying to figure out exactly what that is can be anything but easy.
So, when I saw that Re-Nest linked to this awesome beef label decoder over on the GreenGuide, I had to check it out.

The factory farmed industry that produces the bulk of our meat in this country is something truly horrifying that I do not want to support for many reasons. I know many people like us who are drastically cutting back on their meat consumption, and who also want to be sure that when they DO choose to eat meat, that it is as close to the exact opposite of that horrid industry as is possible. This guide provides an essential bit of information to help us in making those choices.

(and if anyone is interested, here’s MY recipe for Nam Tok. Over sticky rice, this will serve 4. Some recipes call for the addition of crushed garlic and crushed chili pepper, which will make it much spicier.)

1/2 to 2/3 pound of the best beef you can afford (steak form, not ground)
1 red onion
3 green onions
1 medium cucumber
1 thai chili
2tbs very finely chopped lemongrass
2 tbs coriander (this is basically cilantro, but dried)
equal parts fish sauce and lime juice. I start with about 1/8 cup of each, but will add more if needed.
mint sprigs
fresh vegetables of your choice, for serving. I like to use red cabbage, and we make little rolls of the salad and rice. Some people like to use sliced carrot, more cucumber or tomato to make little bite-sized rounds.

Start cooking your rice. I use 1 cup of uncooked rice and prepare it in a steamer.

Sear your beef on both sides in a very hot cast iron skillet. Interior should be fairly rare. Set aside to cool.

slice up your red and green onions and the cucumber into thin strips and place in a large bowl.
add the fish sauce, lime juice, and lemongrass, stir.
Slice the beef into very fine strips and add to the above mixture. You want your beef pieces fairly small so that half pound goes a long way. Put this mixture aside to marinate until your rice is done cooking. For me, this is about another 30 minutes.

While you’re waiting, slice up that chili pepper, prepare your mint leaves and your cabbage leaves. When the rice is done, serve in bowls and garnish with the above, plus another lime slice or two. I personally think you can’t have too much lime juice. We also often sub out the mint for basil or cilantro, depending on our mood.

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