Fusing Flavors: Wok-Tossed Beef Salad with Lao Whiskey

Cooking meat with whiskey isn’t much of a culinary innovation. Texans have been barbecuing their beef with a bourbon since the frontier days and the Scots have been tempering stews with a shot of scotch long before Burns took to the pen.

But culinary adventures are hardly bound by borders or the diktats of puritans. Trek towards the rising sun and you are likely to discover an entirely new spectrum of whiskeys – ones that have relegated barley for the humble rice.

The Thai have a particular fascination for whiskey which they have translated into a rustic distillate known as Lao. A rice whiskey, the drink is slightly pungent, a little on the sweeter side, it is a popular tipple at the dinner table and elsewhere. In that same vein, Loa can be used to lend some traditionally western flavors a peculiarly Asian spin.


  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp Lao or similar ‘rice whiskey’
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 300g Beef fillet, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • FOR THE SALAD : 1 handful coriander leaves, sliced into thirds
  • 3 spring onions, cut length wise
  • 1 handful watercress sprigs, roughly torn
  • 5 lettuce leaves, roughly torn
  • 2 tomatoes, finely sliced
  • 2 red Asian shallots, finely sliced

The Process

Mix the garlic, soy, fish sauce, oyster sauce, whiskey and sugar in a large bowl and stir till the sugar dissolves. Throw in the beef and toss until the pieces are coated evenly. Cover the container and leave the meat to marinate for about half an hour.

While the beef soaks in all the flavors, arrange your salad on a serving platter starting with the lettuce and the watercress, and finishing with the sliced shallots.

Once you are done laying out the salad plate, put a little vegetable oil in a wok and heat it up till it begins to smoke. Add the marinated chunks of beef and make sure you don't toss them for more than 3 minutes. Before taking it off the flame, add a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.

Arrange the pieces of meat over the salad and serve hot.