Sunday, November 14, 2010

Houston’s Thai Steak and Noodle Salad Look-Alike

Whenever my dad says, “we’re going out to eat” it loosely translates to, “we’re going to Houston’s.” You can say that I’ve been there a lot.

It’s certainly not a bad deal, and I’m not complaining. Houston’s has great steaks, fall-off-the-bone ribs, an awesome hamburger, a melt-in-your-mouth French dip sandwich, good fish, and efficient service to boot. And who can argue with their famous spinach artichoke dip? Every one of the million tortilla chips that I’ve ravenously dipped into that steaming crock of creamy spinach, melted cheese, and artichoke hunks, has been awesome.

At Houston’s, consistency is the name of the game. The luxury of knowing what you want before you even get to the restaurant, then receiving that item just as you last remembered, exactly as you craved, is what brings customers back every time. What do you think made McDonald’s, or any major restaurant chain for that matter, so successful? Instead of two all beef patties and special sauce, Houston’s has quality steaks and spinach dip.

My go-to item on the Houston’s menu is most frequently the Thai Steak and Noodle Salad. Large, juicy pieces of filet mignon sit over a bed of Asian noodles, dressed in a spicy, tangy dressing, garnished with tomatoes, mangoes, peanuts, and toasted coconut. (It also comes with avocado, but it’s “no avocado, please!” for me). My latest attempt in the kitchen was trying to recreate this dish.

The udon noodles I used in the salad.
 In order to mimic the original, I used my memory of the salad, while also keeping in mind traditional Thai flavors like garlic, ginger, lime, peanut, spicy chilies, palm sugar, basil, cilantro, and fish sauce. When composing the dressing and marinade (which are very similar), I tried to incorporate all of the flavors of these elements. I just continued to taste until it was where I had imagined it to be. Some of the stranger ingredients like the noodles, fish sauce, and sambal oelek chili sauce are always available at Asian markets, but they have become so common that you can probably find them in the Asian aisle of most major grocery stores.

The outcome was a Thai Steak and Noodle salad look-alike; the dish in its entirety was similar but different. It needed some more spice, more dressing, perhaps a different noodle, and a little more of just something else. I totally forgot the shredded cabbage and carrots that it usually comes with, but have added them to the recipe. I didn’t nail it, but was definitely in the ball bark. The dressing and steak marinade were especially close. Although I couldn’t stop comparing it to the original, it’s not like I was having a Bobby Flay-style Thai Steak and Noodle salad “Throwdown” or anything. If you could have seen my empty plate you would know that I was satisfied with the end result--but I will try it again, and it will be even better!

Houston’s Thai Steak and Noodle Salad Look-Alike:

Yield: 4 servings

- 1 ½ pound round udon noodles or any other thin, round noodle, cooked
- 4 filet mignon steaks, cut into large chunks
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil for cooking steak
- 1 ripe mango, diced
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 cup shredded savoy cabbage
- ½ cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup unsalted peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes, toasted
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ tsp sambal oelek chili sauce (add a little more if you want more spice)
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, lightly chopped or torn
- 1 teaspoon basil, lightly chopped or torn
- ¼ cup peanut oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1 lime, juiced
- ½ teaspoon sambal oelek chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
• Combine all marinade ingredients with steak in a zip-lock bag and store in the refrigerator for 30 minutes-2 hours.
• Cook noodles for about 7 minutes or until tender. Strain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. If not plating immediately, put noodles in a bowl and toss with a little bit of peanut oil to keep it from sticking.
• To make the dressing, combine all ingredients except for peanut oil, cilantro, mint, salt and pepper in a bowl. Slowly incorporate peanut oil, whisking until an emulsion is formed. Add fresh herbs last and season to taste with salt and pepper.
• Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a pan and sear steak pieces for about 3-4 minutes on each side. You want the meat to have a nice sear on the outside and a pink center.
• Toss noodles, mango, cabbage, carrots, and tomato together with the dressing. To serve, pile noodles and other toppings on plate along with and 5-6 pieces of steak. Finish with toasted peanuts and coconut.


~Lisa~ said...

Marisa, you definitely are my sister. Because I adore Houston's. But our local chain went out of business bc the landlord wanted way too much to renew the lease! SO keep these Houston inspired recipes coming!

Lauren Zabaneh said...

This is one of my favorite dishes at Houston's! I love how you did this. looks fab, dahhhling. I want one of those juicy, little nuggets of steak...yum!


OMG. I want that...right now...for breakfast!

I've never heard of Houston's but love a good steakhouse.

Karen said...

The flavors here sound amazing. I can see why this is your go-to dish. I've been to Houston's several times but always get the ahi dish. Will need to keep this is mind next time.

Roxan said...

Yum, Marisa, this looks amazing! I love Houstons, i have a couple that are pretty close to me. I'v never had this salad though, so I can't compare but yours definitely looks delicious.

Elsa said...

I've never heard of Houston's either, but everything looks delicious. You might be able to go to google and type in the name of the meal and find a copycat recipe as well.

Angie's Recipes said...

Looks delish! A great shot of Udon!

Koci said...

Oh wow! This looks really yummy. I've been looking for a good noodle recipe and this one definitely looks worthy of a taste test! Delicious!

Sprinkles of Parsley said...

Wow this looks delicious! My husband would go crazy for it! Thanks for the recipe.

Kristen said...

I haven't been to a Houston's before (heck, in Smalltown, Arizona, I am lucky to get to a McDonalds), but I love seeing you recreate something off a restaurant menu. It looks and sounds amazing! Good for you!!

The Mom Chef said...

What a labor of love this was for you. I can't believe how long the ingredient list it. It makes me want to make it just for that reason. Kudos for trying to come close. It looks gorgeous.

Evan @swEEts said...

Marisa, this looks amazing.. since I can't see myself getting to Houston's anytime soon I'm going to have to try this because it looks amazing.

blackbookkitchendiaries said...

oh yum! im getting really hungry just looking at this. thanks for sharing this.

Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron said...

Marisa, the fall-of-the-bone ribs make me drool! Although we don't have Houston in Seattle (I dont think), I can look at your blog for now. You got it right girl for the Thai flavor. The Asian twist sounds great!

5 Star Foodie said...

Good job recreating this dish. I always find that when I recreate something, it comes out a little different than the original, but doesn't matter as long as it is delicious.

Sommer J said...

OH YUM! This amazing. I've never even heard of Houston's until this post and now I want to pitch a tent outside their restaurant. Hehe. Your take looks absolutely incredible. I definitely will have to try this!!!

Magic of Spice said...

Wow, look at all those amazing flavors...Can see why it's your go to at the restaurant :)
Looks wonderful, and I could easily convert to vegetarian too.

Kathy Gori said...

This looks great I love the Thai steak flavors