I happen to have a little insight into one of my Christmas presents this year. It involves Vietnamese street food and recipes and is a book. Yup. And just knowing this got me all excited about Vietnamese food. Also, I had a craving for fresh salady things. So I did a little squirreling around the internet and mashed a few different things I'd seen together to make this wonderful, fresh and very spicy salad. The spicy lemongrass and ginger paste softens the beef to it's super tender, and the pickled carrots... well they'll be featuring a lot in my tummy from now on, that's for sure.
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 500g beef sliced into strips
- half an iceberg lettuce
- 1 Lebanese cucumber
- 1 carrot
- 1 bunch each mint, coriander, basil
- 1 stalk lemongrass (white part only)
- 1 walnut sized knob of ginger
- 2 birds eye chilies
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 shallot
- Fried rice noodles
Take the spices and smash them up in a mortar and pestle. Add the fish sauce and lemon juice and continue to grind them until they form a thick paste.
Then place your beef strips in a bowl and smear the paste over them, massaging it in with your hands. Place the beef back in the fridge and marinate in the spices for at least an hour.
Next, prepare the pickled carrots. Finely slice the carrots. Then mix together the vinegar, sugar and salt, and cover the carrots with the liquid. Also place in the fridge for 45 minute to an hour (the pickled carrots will keep for up to several weeks).
Prepare the fried shallots. Finely slice them and sizzle them in about 1cm vegetable oil in the bottom of your wok. Watch them closely, as they will take a while, and then turn from pinkish to brown to black within moments. Be ready to remove them as soon as they start to darken. Drain on a board.
About 50 minutes later, take the lettuce and finely shred about half. Julienne the cucumber, and finely chop the herbs.
Prepare the wok with a fine sheen of sesame oil, and fry the beef until browned.
Finally, arrange the lettuce, cucumber, herbs and carrots in your bowl. Add a serve of the beef. Lastly, sprinkle some of the noodles and fried shallots on top.
It's healthy, insanely tasty, and has the most wonderful mix of flavours. If you have a sensitive stomach maybe go easy on the chili. I didn't do this. I have no regrets.