Wyoming. The home of vast ranches, robust longhorn cattle, the Big Horn Mountains, and really amazing Thai food. Wait…what? Thai food?
Yes, Thai food. I admit I don’t know that there is an abundance of Thai eateries out there on the range, but sometimes when traveling, you just stumble on something completely unexpected.
When my mom and I took a trip out to Washington in September, we had planned to spend a couple of days in Cheyenne, Wyoming. We have driven through the northern part of the state a few times before, but we wanted to see what the southern route held for us. The evening we made our way into town, we hurriedly checked into our hotel and began searching on our smartphones for a well-loved local gem. We settled on a Thai restaurant called Anong’s.
Trying international cuisine is a roll of the dice sometimes. I feel like a lot of places try to tone down flavors because the establishment thinks that’s what the local citizens want. I need a full flavored, make-my-tongue-dance experience! Take me on a tour of your country through my taste buds! Don’t dull my food please. I can get dull food at a Taco John’s or China Buffet.
A dancing tongue dish at Anong’s is Thai Nam Tok Beef. I cannot describe how mouthwatering this beef was! I must say, in Wyoming, they know how to cook their meat! It’s perfectly charred on the outside, tender and juicy inside. Nam Tok is sliced beef in a lime and chili pepper mixture and topped with red onion, cilantro, and scallions. Anong’s served it atop a few salad greens.
It’s just too…YUM! So, I decided to try it at home!
You’ll want to start by choosing your meat and thawing it out. I chose some ribeye steaks I had on hand from the farm (thanks mom and dad)! Feel free to experiment here. Skirt steak was recommended in the recipes I researched online, but different cuts or meats like a boneless pork chop would likely work just as well. You will also need 2 or 3 limes depending on the size (mine yielded a bit too much juice), cilantro, mint, red onion, fish sauce, scallions, and a chile pepper. I used a serrano chile.
Coarsely chop the mint and cilantro, thinly slice and chop the onion, scallions, and seed and mince the chile.
You will need about a cup each of the cilantro, mint, and green onion, and a half cup of the red onion. Also measure out your other ingredients at this time. I ended up with about a cup of fresh lime juice. This does add an extra kick of citrus to the dish. Add less if you want less of that flavor. The chili powder you will also want to measure to taste. I would have added more, but I only had about a teaspoon left! Oops!
I used both a tablespoon of flour and cornstarch for thickening, and a teaspoon of sugar for a dash of sweetness. Don’t forget to grab your salt and pepper, you’ll need it for your steak!
Now, I am not a big meat eater. I usually stick with seafood, hamburger, chicken breast, lamb–steak has never been my favorite. I figured maybe there were better cooking techniques that would make steak taste better. I have always wanted to know the tricks to cooking the perfect steak, so I found a post with some tips in order to not botch up this otherwise delectable dish.
Preheat your pan on the stove top on high. Cast iron would be best, otherwise use a heavy bottomed pan that can stand high heat. Don’t use anything with a non stick coating. If you have a rice cooker and want to make rice, this would be a good time to get it started!
Once your beef is thawed to room temp, trim some of the major fat off from the edges if there is a lot, pat the steak dry with paper towels to absorbs excess moisture. This will allow the outsides to sear better and get some good flavor. Season both sides liberally with salt and pepper. Drizzle a very small amount of olive oil on the pan, then lay your steaks inside and give them a slight press to ensure they are fully touching the bottom of the pan evenly.
These ribeyes were about 1-2 inches thick. I cooked them for about 3 minutes on each side. I wanted them a little more medium rare done, but there was still a slight shade of pink in the center.
Next, once both sides of the meat have been cooked, take the steaks out of the pan and let them rest on a plate or cutting board for about ten minutes. This will allow the juices on the outside of the meat to reabsorb, and for the meat fibers to relax which will help the tenderness.
Turn your stove top heat down to medium, scrape the drippings from the bottom of the pan to loosen them and when your meat has rested, slice ‘er up!
Put the sliced meat back in the pan. Add your water, lime juice, fish sauce, and chili powder. Then dd the flour, cornstarch and sugar next. Let contents simmer until juices thicken a little.
Throw in the red onion and serrano chile next, giving the pan a stir. Let the mixture simmer for another couple of minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the meat; the cilantro, mint, and scallions. Give it a quick stir and then it’s ready to plate!
Garnish with the Thai Nam Tok Beef with some extra cilantro and place it on a bed of rice or salad greens like spinach!
I will definitely try making Nam Tok beef again, but I’ll be tweaking the recipe a bit. I think I’d start with a different cut of meat and a different pan. I’d also make sure I had more chili powder on hand! All in all though, the entire meal turned out extremely well! I guess I can make Thai food!