© Stephanie Meyer
Yam neua just might be my desert island beef salad. I discovered it about 23 years ago, when I spent a few months doing some restaurant-kitchen consulting work with Brian McNally, who owned Indochine and 150 Wooster—at the time, two of the most popular restaurants in New York City. Chef Geoffrey Zakarian was working with McNally then as well, and I remember dining with him, my business partner Stephen Kalt and a few others one night at Indochine and marveling at the ultimate summertime beef salad. A few years later, I began traveling to Asia in earnest and had the opportunity to taste the salad in the land of its birth. Over there, the salad was most often served in smaller portions, spooned into cabbage cups or mounded over sticky rice... all delicious, but somewhat lacking the pizzazz of the one at Indochine. So off to the drawing board I went and created my own recipe. That’s what I made for about 20 years—until a few months ago. I was sitting in my kitchen eating tuna fish on potato chips (a guilty snack-treat of mine) and ran out of tuna. I peeked in the fridge and grabbed the last of the leftover yam neua from our local Vietnamese take-away shop. While eating it, I got the bright idea to throw the chips in and... the rest, as they say, is history.
I know what you are thinking: ewwwww. Well, with homemade chips—crisp-edged and sometimes soft in the center—soaking up the dressing, and the brilliant potato-beef dancing their dance, let me just tell you that this salad will thrill you. Now a word about the rice powder: It’s cheap and easy to find in Asian markets, but if you need to, you can make your own by toasting rice and grinding it to a powder in a spice grinder. Don’t skip this ingredient. The toasted rice powder makes the dish.
Go to Recipe: Thai-Style Spicy Grilled Beef Salad with Potato Crisps