Asian Inspired Beef Salad - Mountain Cafe, Aviemore, Scotland

The Mountain Cafe in the tiny town of Aviemore is a gem! Whenever I visit my sister in the Scottish Highlands, we enjoy lunch or tea (the cakes are amazing!) at this lovely little place. My sister bought me the cookbook for my birthday last year and I am slowly making my way through it. I made this salad last week and fell in love with it. The marinade/dressing is fantastic and would be great just on the noddles and veggies without the meat. You could also substitute some crispy tofu instead of the beef. Here is a simplified version of the recipe - for the full recipe see page 88 of the cookbook.

For The Beef

  • zest and juice of 4 limes

  • 1 handful of coriander (cilantro) - stalks and all - chopped

  • 1 handful of mint leaves finely sliced

  • 300 ml of soy sauce

  • 60 ml of sesame oil

  • 30 ml of fish sauce (I don’t love fish sauce so I halved this and it tasted fine)

  • 100g brown sugar

  • 40 ml of rapeseed oil (I didn’t have any so I used olive oil)

  • 4 x 200 g ribeye or sirloin steaks

  • salt

  • pepper

Marinate the Beef

Make your steak marinade by placing the lime zest and juice into a mixing bowl along with the chopped coriander (cilantro), sliced mint, soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, brown sugar and rapeseed oil and whisk well. Measure out 200 ml and save for later. Heat a frying pan/griddle over a high heat until the pan is almost at smoking point, spray with a little oil and put in your steaks (or alternatively put them on the grill). Season with salt and pepper. Cook the steaks for about 3 minutes each side so they are still pink in the middle. Take off the heat. Place the steaks in a tub and pour over the marinade. Leave to cool at room temperature until they are cold enough to go into the fridge, then marinate overnight (or for up to 3 days).

For the Dressing

  • 200ml reserved beef marinade

  • 30 ml red wine vinegar

  • 100 ml rapeseed oil (I used olive oil)

Add the red wine vinegar to the reserved beef marinade and keep whisking as you add in the oil. The dressing will naturally split if you to leave it to sit. This is fine - just give it another little whisk before using.

For the Salad

  • 250 g udon noodles (substitute rice or soba as you prefer

  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce

  • 1 handful flaked coconut - lightly toasted

  • 1 small onion, finely sliced

  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips

  • 1 small carrot, peeled and super finely sliced

  • 1 cucumber, deseeded and sliced into thing strips

  • 1 handful coriander (cilantro) stalks removed , leaves roughly chopped

  • 1 handful mint, stalks removed, leaves roughly chopped

  • 70g rocket or salad leaves

Cook your noodles according to the instructions on the packet, using a fork to make sure they don’t stick together then drain and refresh in a bowl of cold water. Drain the cold water off the noddles and immediately toss them with a little rapeseed oil and sesame oil.

Toss your peanuts or cashews in a small, dry frying pan over a high heat until they are starting to brown, then add the soy sauce and fish sauce on top of the hot nuts and cook for a further minute until they take on all the liquid. Take the pan off the heat.

When you’re ready to serve, place your toasted flaked coconut, red onion, red pepper, carrot, cucumber, coriander (cilantro), mint and rocket/salad leaves in a large bowl. Toss gently to mix the ingredients, then add the noddles and the soy nuts. Drain your steaks, slice them into thin strips and scatter on top. Pour over the dressing, mix gently and serve immediately.