Grilled Lemongrass Beef Salad

by Jen on February 20, 2013

Since turning to Paleo for weight management, I have lost a total of 10 pounds in 6 weeks. 10 pounds is not a ridiculous amount of weight, I know, but it is reasonable for me and at par with my goals. Most importantly, I didn’t feel the least bit deprived at all with this regime (well, OK, maybe I suffered a little in the desserts department). In fact, the hardest part was the first 3 days when I cut out the ‘bad’ carbs like pasta, bread, and rice. This is when you realize how addicted your body is to these foods! It’s like quitting smoking cold turkey – first, you got to get over the proverbial hump!

Now that I have smoothly sailed through the 30-day clean Paleo (meaning, no carbs, no refined sugar, no processed foods, no dairy at all for 30 days), I have turned a corner with my health and weight loss…I feel great! I’ve done an extra 15 days of clean Paleo, but I think I am ready to switch to an 80/20 Paleo (80% of the week Paleo and 20% cheat) or Primal Paleo (a Paleo that allows some dairy). This diet has given me a ton of energy while losing weight at the same time! To me, it’s a keeper!

So, here’s another SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet)- and Paleo-friendly recipe, although there is a little bit of “cheat” in it because I don’t think fish sauce is allowed in Paleo. The good thing is, the ingredients in this recipe are easily replaced or ommitted as needed.

I am Asian and I grew up in an Asian kitchen with an Asian pantry and eating Asian food every day. For someone like me, rice is essential – it’s a cheap filler to the more expensive proteins. Did I mention we Asians are usually cheap, too? LOL.

But since looking to Paleo for diet solutions, I have learned to let go of my rice-eating habits and invest more in the right kind of proteins (antibiotic-free poultry and pork, grass-fed beef, sustainable seafood, etc.). Sure, I think about rice sometimes, especially when I know certain kinds of Asian dishes go so well with a bowl of it! But honestly, this Grilled Lemongrass Beef Salad is already a pretty hearty dish with many delicious layers of flavours! This dish is usually found in Thai or Vietnamese cuisines as a starter, but with the right portion, it can be made into a fulfilling meal itself. I recommend using grass-fed beef if you have access to it, since it tastes better and is healthier anyway. Don’t you worry, the complex flavours of this dish won’t make you think of rice at all!

5.0 from 9 reviews
Grilled Lemongrass Beef Salad
Recipe Type: Main, Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • ~~ For the Grilled Beef Salad ~~
  • 1 to 1-1/2 pounds rib-eye or sirloin steak, preferably grass-fed
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, outer ribs removed and roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3 shallots, roughly chopped
  • ½-inch piece ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos or organic soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon raw honey or grated palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 bunch frisée lettuce, ends removed
  • 1 star fruit, thinly sliced into ¼"
  • a handful of kumquats, thinly sliced
  • a handful of ngo gai (also known as Mexican coriander or sawtooth coriander)
  • a few leaves of Thai purple basil
  • pink peppercorns, crushed
  • white sesame seeds
  • ~~ For the dressing ~~
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons water
  1. Wrap the whole piece of steak in plastic and freeze 25 to 30 minutes, or until semi-frozen.
  2. Put the lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and ginger in a mortar (or food processor) and pound/grind with a pestle until mashed.
  3. Add the coconut aminos and raw honey to the spice paste and grind until a smooth paste forms.
  4. Remove and unwrap the partially frozen steak from the freezer. Slice the beef across the grain into ⅛-inch strips and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl or in a freezer bag, rub the ground spice paste in to the beef and marinate for 1 hour up to 3 hours in the refrigerator.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by whisking the fish sauce, raw honey, and lime juice with 3 tablespoons of water, adding more to taste if needed. Set aside.
  7. Heat the coconut oil in a cast-iron grill pan over high heat, or fire up the bbq grill. When the pan is hot, add the marinated beef and cook for a few seconds before turning the heat down to medium-high. Cook for 5 minutes until browned and tender, turning occasionally. Do not overcrowd the pan or grill. Repeat this cooking step until all the beef is cooked.
  8. If using the grill, have two well-oiled zones in the bbq ready: one side on high heat (400 F to 425 F) and the other side on lower heat (300 F to 325 F). Cook the beef on the side that's on high heat for a few seconds to sear, then flip the steak strips and transfer to the lower heat side and cook until browned and tender, about 3 to 4 minutes, or depending on your grill.
  9. In a serving bowl or plate, toss the frisée lettuce, star fruit, kumquats, ngo gai (Mexican coriander), Thai basil, and beef with the prepared dressing.
  10. Season with pink peppercorns and garnish with sesame seeds.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

The Café Sucré Farine February 20, 2013 at 9:12 am

This is gorgeous and sounds super delicious, definitely my kind of salad. Who would miss the rice? :)


Sincerely Jill February 20, 2013 at 10:40 am

I never thought of lemongrass and beef. This sounds incredible!


Laura (Tutti Dolci) February 20, 2013 at 11:54 am

Such a gorgeous salad, Jen! I love lemongrass, the flavors here are some of my favorites!


Nami | Just One Cookbook February 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Seriously, I’m DREAMING to get rid of 10 lbs. BUT I’m writing this as I eat pasta for lunch (sorry for my bad manner)…. Rice (how can I resist Japanese rice… arrhhh!), bread, pasta… they are my BFF. I bet you felt that same too. But you did it!!!!! Since I’m not a baker, I can get rid of refined sugar easily…. I think? I eat pretty healthy meal too, but those BAD carbs you mention… that’s my weight gain source I think. Not to mention, American serving size is huge and my stomach is well adjusted to this American size… thank you for keep inspiring (and please keep up!). I’ll slowly adjust because I want to lose 10 lbs too! I LOVE lemongrass and this salad looks phenomenal. I love lemongrass + beef combo too.


Kiran @ February 20, 2013 at 2:37 pm

10 pounds is a great achievement! I still have a lot to work after returning for a short hiatus (visiting Malaysia and India).

THis looks incredibly delicious with exotic flavors!!


Tina Ong February 20, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Congrats for losing 1o lbs! I eat rice every meal, and I don’t think I can live without it. I have made the switch to brown rice, though.

Your salad looks very appetizing, and the grilled beef sealed the deal for me.


Valerie February 20, 2013 at 10:28 pm

You’re almost convincing me to try this Paleo diet! Congrats on the success – this one actually sounds healthy and logical. And if I can eat beautiful food, like this lemongrass beef, it would hardly seem like a “diet.”

P.S. I love rice too! Butter, salt and garlic…doesn’t get much better than that. :D


Lisa {AuthenticSuburbanGourmet} February 20, 2013 at 10:58 pm

I am with Valerie – you almost have me convinced! Congrats on the loss – that is super exciting. Carbs would be my downfall. I absolutely LOVE this lemongrass dish! This is a keeper recipe. Stunning photos Jen!


Sandra's Easy Cooking February 20, 2013 at 11:15 pm

10 lb in 30 day is great, and congrats! I think you did it in a healthy way and become more energetic. Now, giving up on some foods…hm! That’s my problem too! I tried, did it many times but always bounced back on my old eating.
Your salad…oh how to put it in a right way! It is more than mouthwatering, it’s pure love right there! Pictures are soooo amazing…I just want to reach and grab it! hehe


Sandra's Easy Cooking February 20, 2013 at 11:17 pm

sorry my mistake 6 weeks :D


The Kitchen Boudoir February 20, 2013 at 11:46 pm

I think I’ve said this before, but I am so thrilled and inspired by your use of colour in your photos and styling – very uplifting. Congrats on the paleo journey and the results!


Gee February 21, 2013 at 6:15 am

That looks amazing! I don’t eat rice much anyway, being primal, but cauliflower “rice” makes a great substitute!


wok with ay February 21, 2013 at 10:19 am

Wow! Look at those perfectly seared strips of beef — I am drooling. Put me in the same weight program anytime please if this will be my diet. Ayy, Sarap! :)


Jean | Lemons & Anchovies February 21, 2013 at 10:42 am

Great job, Jen. Congrats on meeting your weight loss goals. You’ve created some very attractive Paleo meals–I would have wondered if I could give up the carbs but dishes like this wouldn’t make me feel deprived at all. This is gorgeous!


Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic February 21, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Congrats on the weight loss! I need to detox from carbs and sugar too, and you’ve inspired me to clean up my eats or at least be more aware of the foods I’m eating :)


Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts February 21, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Love this salad. It sounds incredible, so much flavor, and it looks amazing!


Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet February 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Beautiful salad!! Love lemongrass!


Coffee and Crumpets February 21, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Great job!! I did Paleo in December, but mine was an auto immune Paleo, I couldn’t eat ANYTHING! I went off it after I almost passed out! But I need to get back on it…atleast get rid of the grains and sugar. My background is alo heavy on rice so I find it hard too.
This salad is beautiful! Such gorgeous colours and as usual your photos are amazing. I will keep this in mind when I start back up.



The Squishy Monster February 22, 2013 at 12:29 am

My mouth was literally watering as I read through this…I love how aromatic lemongrass and though I typically have it with chicken, this can’t be missed…I love your recipe!!


Jillian February 22, 2013 at 8:13 am

Ah, this looks so good! The colors are gorgeous. It sounds like you’re doing quite well on the Paleo diet. I’m thinking about trying it some time soon, but I think I’d like to do a little more research on it. I have to prep myself to the point of exhaustion before I decide to cut out things like Frosted Flakes! Ugh, that’s going to be so hard…


Karen (Back Road Journal) February 22, 2013 at 12:33 pm

The salad looks fantastic from your wonderful photos. I have everything except the fruit to make this dish. I’m sure I wouldn’t miss having rice with this either.


CCU February 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Your photos are exquisitely mouthwatering my friend :D
I love this delicious recipe too, wish I could eat beef!

Choc Chip Uru


Cass @foodmyfriend February 22, 2013 at 6:00 pm

A guy I work with does Palio for health reasons. Every few months he does it and it fixes any problems that he has! That is a pretty great weight loss, don’t talk it down :)


Tessa February 22, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Lovely dish! What’s even better is the ten pounds of weight loss! Great job!!!


John Fox February 22, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Why do you freeze the steak? Wouldn’t the marinate not take as well if you freeze it?


Jen February 23, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Hi, John!
The freezing or semi-freezing is just for the cutting – in order to slice them as thinly as you can. But as soon as it is sliced, it only takes a few minutes for the steak pieces to defrost, and then you can proceed to marinate.


Patty February 22, 2013 at 11:54 pm

I would love to lose 10 pounds…especially if I get to have lemongrass beef salad…..I just can’t put more than a few days of good eating together and it just isn’t enough to lose weight-I’m so impressed with your achievements with this Paleo diet and everything you’ve been sharing just looks scrumptious;-)


joey @ 80 breakfasts February 24, 2013 at 1:45 am

This does sound so flavorful! As an Asian, and a Filipino at that, I understand how rice is such a cornerstone to food — one of those things that I have such a hard time giving up! Sigh…one of these days will try to at least lessen it, hihi ;)


Gourmantine February 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm

I love fresh salads as these, and 10lbs in such a period of time is a healthy way to loose weight, it’s amazing how the body craves for things it’s used to. When I quit coffee 2 months ago, I felt like an addict thrown in a cage for 2 weeks, but then it’s easier, until you no longer want it at all.


Raymund February 25, 2013 at 2:26 am

Wow 10 pounds! Congratulations job well done. I think I need to start cutting out on grains as well


Nancy/SpicieFoodie February 25, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Congratulations Jen, that is wonderful! I don’t know if I would be able to give up carbs and dairy, but you’ve got me very curious. The salad looks amazing! It would be a great way to bring a little sunshine into these dreary winter days. Thanks for sharing!


a farmer in the dell February 25, 2013 at 6:44 pm

This looks mouthwatering! I love the starfish in there!


sippitysup February 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm

My mouth is actually watering and I don’t even know what the word paleo means! GREG


Amy (Savory Moments) February 27, 2013 at 6:46 am

Congratulations on the success of your Paleo diet! This salad looks amazing! I mean, look at all the interesting ingredients and flavors going on in here. I love the Thai basil and starfruit – really lovely.


John Fox March 21, 2013 at 10:49 pm

So everyone said it looked great but I don’t think anyone has actually made it yet.

Well, I did.

And it was amazing.

Starfruit and kumquats nicely balance each other out: a sweet base contrasting with a sharp acid. The dressing is sweet and lovely and the meat has such an amazing texture. My wife loved it and I’ll definitely make it again.

Some changes: I didn’t freeze the beef and I only marinated for a half hour.
I couldn’t find the Mexican Coriander or the Thai basil, but the flavor of the dressing and the marinade gave PLENTY of lovely flavor.
Also, I just used Romaine lettuce and white peppercorns.
I added rice (sorry, Paleo enthusiasts) but I’m hypoglycemia so I need some good carbs.

It’s pretty hard to find all the ingredients for this recipe, but if you can it’s quite worth it.


John Fox March 22, 2013 at 12:59 pm

You know, the recipe doesn’t say what to do with the — “2 tablespoons coconut aminos or organic soy sauce”


Jen March 22, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Oh, I’m so sorry…I just corrected the recipe. Thanks for the head’s up!


AnnellaW October 29, 2013 at 4:33 am

We LOVED this. Such a huge flavour hit with all those lovely sour and sweet notes plus it was so easy to prepare. I’ll definitely be making this again and again. We really felt as if we’d eaten something healthy without compromising on taste. Thank you!


Jen January 17, 2014 at 11:39 pm

Thank you for trying this recipe!


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