1 small clove garlic
1 fresh red hot chile (like a red jalapeno), stemmed, cut in half crosswise (not seeded)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons very thinly sliced lemongrass (from 2 stalks; remove the tough outer leaves and slice the tender white core)
1 1/4 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-inch-thick beef strip steak (also called New York strip), 9 to 10 ounces
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot rings (from about 2 medium shallots)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro leaves and stems
1/2 - 1 tablespoon ground toasted rice
Iceberg lettuce leaves for serving
1. Make the dressing: Using a chef's knife, mince the garlic and one of the chile halves and then scrape them together against the cutting board with the flat side of the knife until they make a coarse paste (you can also do this in a mortar and pestle). Put the paste in a small bowl. Slice the remaining chile half into thin rings and add it to the paste, along with the lime juice, fish sauce, lemongrass, brown sugar, and red chile flakes. Stir well and set aside.
2. Cook the steak: Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Sear the steak until it is well browned on one side, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and cook until the second side is dark brown and the meat is medium rare (touch the steak or cut into it to check), another 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the steak thinly and then cut into bite-size pieces.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the beef (and any accumulated juices), shallots, mint, and cilantro. Stir the dressing and pour it on top. Toss gently. Add the ground toasted rice, if using, and toss.
4. Transfer the beef to a platter and serve immediately with the lettuce leaves, or plate individual servings with a portion of beef cradled in a few lettuce leaves.
1. For ground toasted rice, put 2 tablespoons uncooked rice (preferably sticky rice) in a small, dry frying pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are toasted and golden, about 10 minutes. (The rice may smoke; use your exhaust fan). Let cool for a few minutes and then grind into a coarse powder in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.