Thai-Style Shrimp and Beef Salad

Makes 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

I think this dish went from conception to consumption in about nine minutes, but it fared well-even James deemed it "simple but elegant." Part of what made it so easy is that I was able to take advantage of the bounty available to me in his kitchen, which explains the presence of three fresh herbs, enoki mushrooms, and tenderloin instead of a fattier cut of meat. And while I stand by this recipe, you could simplify it a little by skipping one of the herbs or omitting the mushrooms, and you could certainly replace the tenderloin with sirloin or rib-eye.

4 tablespoons olive oil
11/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce, or to taste
1 shallot, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn, canola, or grapeseed
1 (8-ounce) piece beef tenderloin
1 pound medium (31/35) shrimp, peeled and deveined, if you like
1 bunch watercress, washed, thickest stems removed
1/2 cup peeled and diced papaya (optional)
2 ounces enoki mushrooms, rinsed (or use thinly sliced white mushrooms)
Leaves from 4 or 5 fresh mint sprigs, washed and roughly chopped
Leaves from 2 or 3 stems fresh cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
Leaves from 2 or 3 stems fresh basil, washed and roughly chopped

1. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and shallot. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more soy, vinegar, or oil to taste.

2. Put the neutral oil in an 8- to 10-inch sauté pan and turn the heat to high. Season the meat liberally with salt and, after 1 or 2 minutes-when you can't hold your hand above the pan for more than a few seconds- add the beef. Sear the tenderloin on each side for 3 to 4 minutes, until browned on the outside and rare but not raw inside (you can, of course, cook it a minute or 2 longer if you like). Transfer the beef from the pan to a cutting board and let rest while you cook the shrimp.

3. Return the same pan to the stove, add the shrimp and lower the heat to medium. Cook until the shrimp are nicely browned on the bottoms, about 2 minutes, then turn and brown the second sides, 1 to 2 minutes more, for a total of 4 or 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, toss the watercress with the papaya, enoki, and herbs in a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss until the greens are evenly dressed. When the shrimp are ready, add them to the salad and toss again.

5. Slice the meat as thinly as possible. Divide the salad among 4 plates, top with the sliced rare tenderloin, and serve.