Friday, 25 May 2012

Vietnamese Beef Salad

Despite being a massive fan of Thai food, I also love Vietnamese cuisine which for me is quite underrated. If you ever get a chance to go to VN, do it. It's an amazing country and the food is superb. After a few days of sunshine, I've declared that summer is here, so it's funky salad time. One of the VN classics is a spicy beef salad of which there are several variations. This particular concoction does involve a lot of ingredients and will totally destroy your kitchen and create a mountain of washing up. (Tip : Pre-arrange for the mrs to wash up) Thankfully, the vibrant flavours and colours are worth it and I can still recall eating something similar in a rustic old cafe overlooking Nha Trang Bay.

If you're into this style of cuisine, you should have most of the sauces in your cupboards. It's the usual sweet, sour, salty, spicy combo. The secret is to get the wok mega hot so that the beef takes on that smokey taste which works so well with the lime, coriander and chili.

Ingredients : (for 2 people) 2 sirloin steaks cut into thin strips, stick of lemongrass, 2 garlic cloves, 1tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp sunflower oil, 1 tbsp caster sugar

1. Pound the lemongrass and garlic with a pestle and mortar until you get a paste. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Pour over the beef and marinade for an hour or so.

More ingredients : 40g caster sugar, 1tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp w/wine vinegar, 1 tbsp lime juice, 1 finely chopped red chilli, 1 garlic clove finely chopped, 2 tbsp water

2. Heat the water in a pan and add the sugar. Stir until dissolved and allow to cool before adding remaining ingredients. This is your dressing.

Even more ingredients : 50g vermicelli noodles, finely sliced onion, handful of shredded cabbage, 1 carrot julienned, 50g cucumber julienned, handful of coriander, 50g bean sprouts, 50g crushed peanuts, handful of deep fried shallots (most Chinese supermarkets), finely sliced red chilli

3. To make the salad, add the cabbage, carrot, cucumber, bean sprouts and coriander to a large bowl.
4. Cook the noodles as per norm, refresh under cold water and set aside.
5. Fry off the onions in a very hot wok until slightly burnt. Drain on some kitchen roll and set aside.
6. Fry off the beef in a similarly hot wok for about 2 minutes.
7. To serve, pile half of the salad on a large plate and then top with half the onions, peanuts and all of the noodles. Then add the beef, followed by the remaining veg and onions. Pour over the dressing and top with the remaining peanuts, shallots and chilli.

I love the way that this dish just fills your mouth with so many different flavours and textures. I've also realised that I still have a lot of the ingredients left over in their various packets and bottles, so I can make it again tomorrow. Not sure the other half will want to do the washing up again though!

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