Thai Beef Salad with Cara Cara Oranges & Chili Lime Vinaigrette

Thai Beef Salad with Cara Cara Oranges and Chili Lime Vinaigrette

Listen, I get it, the Internet needs another Thai Beef Salad recipe like I need another labneh post, but I don’t care, it’s just the rebel in me. I wanted to share this recipe with you because I love it deeply, passionately, obsessively. Also, it’s kind of healthy and there’s still a lot of January to get through and, let’s face it, I ’m not swimming in healthy recipe ideas. My brain is generally awash with fried chicken and the like. So, although you don’t need it, although you didn’t ask for it, I’m going to give you MY recipe for Thai Beef Salad and you’re going to sit there and take it…or just click away. Don’t click away. 

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Now, if you’re waiting for something revolutionary to crop up in this recipe, don’t hold your breath because you will pass out. I’m hanging out in familiar territory. But I did add a few things to identify this salad as a winter-appropriate offering. I added naked segments of cara cara orange because the coral hue of its flesh is giving me life rn. And anything that is a source of joy in the winter should be worshipped and, if edible, consumed. 

Cara caras are a navel orange hybrid of the Washington navel and the Brazilian Bahia navel. This natural hybridization was stabilized and brought to the North American market in the late 1980s but only in specialty shops. Cara cara oranges are now readily available and are a common substitute for more traditional naval varieties. Although, in my opinion, I think they are superior to the navel, but I’m not here to dictate your citrus preferences.

I dig the cara cara because they tend to be sweeter and easier to peel than the common naval. And, of course, the color is just beyond. But yeah, you can use any orange you like in this salad, in fact, you can skip the orange altogether. This is your Thai Beef Salad after all.

I contemplated employing watercress as my base for this salad. I really dug the green when I used it in my Vietnamese Shaking Beef and was keen to use it again. But when it came time to pull the trigger, I found myself gravitating back to the Napa cabbage. Its such a hearty green. It has the crunch factor and it’s just about the only salad base you can actually keep as leftovers. It gets a little soggy, sure, but, once dressed, it doesn’t readily turn to goo like iceberg or romaine. I threw in half a head of red cabbage as well because purple. Yeah, sometimes I write recipes based on my color preferences. What of it?

The steak itself is a flank. I love flank steak because you can easily feed four with one and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than buying four strip steaks. True, the meat is not as tender and it does require some quality-time with a high acid marinade but if you treat it nice it will return the favor ten-fold.

I probably didn’t have to explain all that to you because the flank steak is not nearly as obscure as it once was. You can tell that by the price. It’s funny when historically cheap cuts of meat take a leap in popularity. And by funny I mean, absurd and a little sad because all too often these cuts fall out of the price range of the people who initially made them sing. I’m sorry, this is depressing. Let’s move on, shall we?

As I was saying, the flank steak, although pricier than it once was, is still cheaper than four primo steaks and all it needs is a marinade. And I quite like marinades. They’re a simple, low effort way to pump a ton of flavor into an already flavorful dish. Today’s marinade features ingredients with considerable talents as meat tenderizers. I’m talking lime juice and the oh, so dreamy fish sauce.

Beyond the marinating, grilling and stirring, there is really just tossing. If you’re looking for an easy win in the kitchen, today’s Thai Beef Salad is it. You know what? It felt really good to say that. I never get to say that! But seriously, you will breeze through this bad boy and when you taste it, you’ll feel like an absolute gourmet.

Although this Thai Beef Salad may be a bit of a let down for some of you, I see it as a bit of a personal victory. I haven’t had a ton of press in my short career as a blogger, but when I have they have always praised my creative recipes. And in my pursuit of continued validation, I have walled myself into an impossible corner. I make a lot of recipes that never see the light of day. I deem them too predictable, uninteresting, and/or simple for the blog. But that’s not fair because a lot of them are good, accessible, and/or confidence boosting. This is one of them.

So, posting this Thai Beef Salad is a sign I remembered. I remembered that cooking is fun. I remembered that it’s not always about breaking the mold or challenging one’s self significantly. Sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable to make something you find blindingly delicious and call it a day. So, thank you for not sneering at the basicness of this Thai Beef Salad because beneath all its basic glory, is flavor, ease, and delicious simplicity. We are never one kind of cook, we are many and this Thai Beef Salad is courtesy of the take-out-craving, too-busy-to-breathe Tuesday version of Me.



Thai Beef Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4


Marinated Flank Steak

  • 907g ( 2lbs) flank steak
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1 (1-inch knob) ginger julienne
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar*
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Chili Lime Vinaigrette

  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger minced
  • 1-2 red chilies thinly sliced
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Thai Beef Salad

  • 1/2 head napa cabbage shredded
  • 1/2 head red cabbage shredded
  • 2 medium carrots julienned
  • 1 green mango julienned
  • 1 large shallot thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas halved
  • 2 cara cara oranges segmented
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro torn
  • 1 batch Marinated Flank Steak see above
  • 1 batch Chili Lime Vinaigrette see above
  • 1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves


Marinated Flank Steak

  • Pat the flank steak dry with paper towel and place it in a large resealable bag. Add the smashed garlic and set aside.
  • In a small bowl place the ginger, fish sauce, soy sauce, palm sugar, sesame oil and the zest and juice of the lime. Whisk to combine and pour over the steak. Force the air out of the bag and seal. Transfer to the fridge and marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to eat, heat a charcoal grill or cast iron griddle over medium-high heat until smoking. Remove the steak from its marinade and add to the grill. Cook the steak 3-5 minutes a side or until medium rare. Take the steak off of the grill and tent with foil until ready to slice.
  • When ready to plate, slice the steak into thin slices against the grain. If your slice runs the entire length of the steak, feel free to slice it into thirds for easy eating.

Chili Lime Vinagrette

  • Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Transfer to the fridge and chill until ready to serve.

Thai Beef Salad

  • Place the napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, mango, shallots, sugar snap peas, oranges, bean sprouts and cilantro in a large bowl. Add the steak and toss until everything is well integrated. 
  • Give the Vinaigrette a quick whisk and pour over the salad. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the peanuts, and mint leaves over top. Serve immediately.


*Substitute brown sugar for palm sugar if you don’t have it.

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  1. Hey – don’t knock another that beef salad, especially as I don’t have a go-to recipe for one yet, so I’ve bookmarked this one to try. It looks delicious.