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Oct 14, 2014
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WINE WITH…Asian Beef Salad

Among the most delicious and versatile gifts of global gastronomy are riffs on traditional Asian salads of greens topped with slices of grilled or pan-seared steak. The Vietnamese version generally calls for Nuoc Cham, a classic dipping sauce that doubles as the salad dressing. Diners enjoying Korean Bulgogi roll the beef up in lettuce leaves. Spicy, tangy Thai beef salad (Yum Neua) may have a little more hot pepper heat than the others, but all the variations on this Asian theme are savory and refreshing as well as being fairly quick and easy to prepare. Here is our hybrid version.

Asian Beef Salad

Serves 2

1 clove garlic, minced
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (3-4 limes)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (mirin) or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup peanuts (optional)
1/3 cup peanut or olive oil
About 4 cups fresh salad greens, preferably a mix of romaine and radicchio
1/2 cup peeled and very thinly sliced English seedless cucumbers
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves torn into small pieces
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves torn into small pieces
4 ounces (about half a package) thin rice sticks
3/4-1 pound steak such as skirt, flank or flatiron

Put the garlic, jalapeno, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce and vinegar in a blender and process until thoroughly combined. Remove about 2 tablespoons of the mixture, spread it over the steak, and let it marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or so.

Add the peanut or olive oil to the remaining mixture in the blender. If you are using the peanuts, add them as well. Pulse until the peanuts are coarsely chopped. In a large bowl, combine the salad greens, cucumbers, mint and basil. Cook the rice sticks according to package directions (usually about 10 minutes) and drain them thoroughly, patting them dry with a clean dishtowel.

Grill, broil or pan sear the steak to desired doneness; then transfer it to a cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes while you toss the salad greens and the rice sticks with the dressing. Divide the mixture between two serving plates. Cut the steak into thin slices and arrange them on top of the salad.

* * *

Here is another dish that demonstrates that a wine’s texture and flavor profile can be much more important than its color. Whether red, white, or pink, a wine with fully ripe, even slightly sweet, fruit will go well with it. By contrast, wines that taste more of spice, herbs, or earth turn almost muddy in this pairing. Similarly, regardless of color, you will want to choose a wine that feels silky or lush on the palate. Ones that are noticeably tannic or astringent seem unpleasant. The following five--one white, three reds, and one rosé--all were delectable partners. How they tasted made all the difference, while how they looked didn’t matter at all.

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Approx. Price


Vincent Delaporte, Sancerre (France) Rosé 2013

(Imported by Vineyard Brands)


Taste of ripe but not sugary red cherry fruit, this rosé is very well structured, with a nervy streak of acidity that makes it and the dish you drink it with seem very refreshing.

Fritz Haag, Mosel (Germany) Brauneberger Riesling Trocken 2012

(Imported by Loosen Bros. USA)


A beautiful expression of Mosel Riesling, with more alcohol (12 percent) than many, so a fuller and more substantial presence on the palate. It has the stuffing to stand up to a flavorful dish like this beef salad, while at the same never feeling heavy. All in all, this was a simply delicious wine and a beautiful match for the dish.


Meiomi, Monterey/ Santa Barbara/ Sonoma Counties (California) Pinot Noir 2012


Overt sweetness mars many California Pinot Noirs, but with this dish what in another circumstance could be a weakness turns out to be an advantage. The fleshy, ripe fruit at the wine’s core echoes the sweetness in the dish itself, making for a somewhat surprising but clearly impressive match.

Poliziano, Rosso di Montepulciano (Italy) 2011

(Imprted by Dalla Terra)


A core of plum and berry fruit makes this beautifully balanced red work well with this multi-flavored dish. It clearly accents the steak, but it also complements the somewhat exotic dressing, giving the whole added depth and richness.

Tablas Creek Vineyard, Paso Robles (California) “Patelin de Tablas” 2012


A red Rhône-styled blend, this wine tastes sunny, reflecting its warm Paso Robles origin. Though it does show some peppery spice, the dominant impression is of warm, ripe, sun-kissed fruit—which is just what this dish wants from a glass of wine. French inspired, it nonetheless is very much an unabashed Californian.