When my oldest was in daycare at the age of 1, I befriended another mom who I met there. One Friday night she had us over for dinner. She had picked up this incredible salad from a gourmet store close to her work. It was one of the most interesting things that I had every tasted. This was back in the early 90s and Silver Palate type establishments were popping up all over the place.
Mark, my former husband, was in love with this salad. I was a tired mother, working full-time and 7 months pregnant. I was just happy that I didn’t have to cook but did enjoy the meal. Mark kept bringing this salad up wondering if I could make a “dupe”. I was pretty good at figuring out seasonings that I knew but there were definitely flavors in there that I did not know. I had no idea where to begin outside of the steak part.
After listening to him ask for over a week, I decided to call and ask for the recipe. I don’t believe in beating around the bush, I am a South Dakotan and we don’t mince words. I was going to figure this recipe out if it killed me if to do nothing but get him to stop talking about it. This store was over 30 miles away so I decided to just give them a call. On the phone. It was 1991 remember, no google.
I called and asked to speak to the person that made the “spicy beef salad”. The chef got on the phone and I could tell I was catching him at a busy time. He was turned off by my bubbly midwestern attitude but I introduced myself and raved about his salad. I told him how Mark loved it and wouldn’t let it go so I was hoping he would be so kind as to share his recipe. After he laughed at me, I begged him to throw me a bone. It helped that Sean was crying in the background and whining about how hot and pregnant I was then he finally took pity on me. He said “Grab a pen, I will tell you what is in it but not the amounts. You will have to figure that out”. Ok sir, give me your best shot.
Sean is now 32 years old so that makes this piece of paper 31. It traveled with me through every single move and sits in my file of important recipes. I have made this recipe numerous times over the past 3 decades and if you were to ask my former husband today about it, he probably would still say it is one of his favorite things I made.
Here is my twist on the salad from the grumpy chef in Boston.
Blackened Steak and Asian Noodle Salad
10-16 oz steak – any kind. Use your favorite. I like skirt steak but anything works
Cajun /Blackening Seasoning – enough to coat both sides of the beef
1 TBSP Grapeseed or high smoke oil
1 lb. Penne Pasta
8 oz. Snow Peas
1 Red Pepper, seeded and chopped
6 scallions, whites and green parts, chopped
1 TBSP Sesame Seeds (white, black or a combo)
8 oz soy sauce
2 oz oyster sauce
2 oz fish sauce
1 oz plus to taste hot chili oil
8 oz sesame oil
Put oil in cast iron pan and get the pan very hot. Place the seasoning all of the steak and rub so it is consistent. I do not salt this steak because the soy sauce is a bit salty but you are welcome to do so if you like. Place the steak into the pan away from you so you don’t get splattered by hot oil.
Cook the steak evenly on both sides to the temp you like to eat your steak. For me, I usually eat steak medium rare but for the salad I like it at about 140.
Remove it to rest.
Time to cook your pasta. Whatever type of pasta you want to use is fine. I prefer a shorter pasta with this recipe but that is your call. Cook your pasta in salted water according to package instructions.
Turn the temp down and add the snow peas, red peppers, scallions and sesame seeds. Toss and cook for about 2 minutes. The colors will all get bright on the veggies. Remove and put into a bowl.
Once the pan has cooled down mix all of the dressing ingredients in the pan with the burner off. This is to help get all the blackened bits into the dressing.
Pour the dressing into the bowl with the veggies. Add the hot pasta and toss to coat. It will look like there is extra dressing but the pasta will soak it up as it sets.
Cut the steak against the grain into bite size pieces and put into the salad. Scrape the juices from the cutting board into the pasta. Let sit at room temp until cool enough to put into the fridge. Cool at least 2 hours to help the flavors marry.