Thai-style Venison and Mint Salad
This is a light, refreshing salad inspired by Thai-style beef and mint. Serve the venison warm, at room temperature or cold. For convenience, cook the loin the night before and store in the refrigerator, and then slice it right before serving. This recipe also works well with leftover meat.
Palm sugar is a staple in Thai cooking, and it is sold as cakes. It is made from the sap of coconut palm trees and has a light caramel-like flavor. To use palm sugar, shave the cake with a knife. If you can’t find palm sugar, brown sugar will work in this recipe.
Fresh bird’s eye chili is the correct chili to use in most Southeast Asian recipes. However, I live in Nebraska and so can’t always find it or have it on hand. So, I keep a jar of Sambal Oelek Ground Fresh Chili Paste in my refrigerator. Although the paste isn’t made of bird’s eye chilies – it’s likely jalapeño -- the paste is passable in all kinds of Asian recipes, especially for sauces.
- 1 lb. venison loin
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 tbs. oil
- 2 tbs. palm sugar, packed (or brown sugar)
- 3 tbs. lime juice
- 1 tsp. Sambal Oelek Ground Fresh Chili Paste (or 2 bird’s eye chilies, minced)
- 1 tbs. fish sauce
- 1 bunch fresh mint leaves
- 1 English cucumber
- Handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
1. Two hours before cooking, take venison out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature. To make the dressing, combine palm sugar, lime juice, chili and fish sauce in a small bowl.
2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Preheat a skillet to medium high. Pat venison with paper towels and sprinkle generously with salt. When skillet is searing hot, add oil and brown venison on all sides. Transfer browned venison to a cold cookie sheet and finish it in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches about 127 degrees. Take meat out of the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cut English cucumber in half and then thinly slice lengthwise with a vegetable peeler. Pick meat leaves off stems. Slice tomatoes or keep them whole. When venison has rested, slice it against the grain. Arrange sliced venison, cucumber, mint and tomatoes on a plate. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.