This is one of our favorite stir-fry dishes and if I can only convey one thing to you about this recipe it is this: do NOT fear the fish sauce. Believe me, I’m as adverse to the stuff, in its undiluted form, as anyone. When I’m pouring it out I actually hold my breath so as not to smell it. But I promise you that it does not bring any kind of fishy flavor to the dish and, I think, just acts as a flavor booster (“Go Flavor!”).
Speaking of fish, isn’t it funny how the best thing we can say about it is that it doesn’t taste (or smell) “fishy”? When we talk about a great steak we had we don’t say “It was delicious; didn’t taste at all beefy.”
I think what I love most about this dish is the unique combination of flavors like peanuts + mint (unique, that is, to my Midwestern US palate; probably if I was a middle-aged Thai woman I would find this about as “unique” as butter on toast. Not that I’m middle-aged. No way. I intend to live well into my 110’s). And the shallots are also lovely. I don’t find this to be especially spicy but you can control the heat by adjusting the serrano or jalapeno peppers.
The recipe calls for “blade steak” but offers flank as an acceptable substitute. Good thing too as I have never, ever seen anything labeled “blade steak” here in my little town of Chicago. Don’t even get me started on the completely inconsistent, regionally-influenced, fickle nomenclature of cuts of meat.
To make this an easy week-night meal I serve it with plain old rice and edamame.
Stir-Fried Thai-Style Beef with Chiles and Shallots from Cook’s Illustrated, July, 2005.