Food in the Forest: Thai days and holidays

Helen's Yam Neua Yang

Helen Jackson

First published in What's On
Last updated

Having spent Thai New Year (Songkran) in Bangkok a couple of years ago, I’ll always associate it with water and cooking. 

The three-day festival starts with housewives cleaning their house and removing rubbish.

The water fights then start: walking down the road, you have to dodge water being sprayed from passing trucks with music blaring, whilst children hide round corners waiting to ambush you with water pistols. 

Having been soaked to the skin twice, we decided to seek refuge in a cookery school run by Angsana in a large kitchen at the back of her house.

My first job was to peel and de-vein fresh shrimps whilst Roy was given a huge meat cleaver and told to mince chicken thighs.  

I then moved on to making a red curry paste by bashing a number of ingredients in a large pestle and mortar.

We prepared three dishes: Neua Yang (grilled beef salad), Gaeng Khoa Sapparot (shrimps and pineapple in red curry) and Ga-prao Gai (stir fried chicken with chillies and basil leaves).

Once the preparation was complete, the cooking of the two hot dishes didn’t take long and we were soon sat around the table whilst Angsana told us she’d originally taught Thai to foreign students which is how she’d met her Swedish husband.  

Having moved to Florida for two years, her neighbours had asked her to show them how to cook Thai food and she’d then set up her school on her return to Thailand -

As Songkran this year was 13 to 15 April, we decided to dig out one of Angsana’s recipes. 

Yam Neua Yang (serves 2 generous portions)

  • 200g sirloin steak
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  • ½ red onion, sliced thinly
  • ¼ cucumber, sliced into half moons
  • 1 head pak choi, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced


  • 1 large red chilli, roughly chopped leaving the seeds in
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and squashed
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp sugar


  • Marinade the beef in the soy sauce and black pepper for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile mix the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. These were the original ingredients, but you could add anything else lurking in your fridge - I used raw purple sprouting broccoli.
  • Grind the chilli and garlic in the pestle and mortar and add the rest of the ingredients.
  • Heat the oil and quickly fry the beef on both sides for a couple of minutes (it just needs to be cooked on the outside leaving it pink in the middle).
  • Leave the meat to rest for 10 minutes and slice thinly.
  • Toss the meat, salad and dressing together and serve.

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