I ate this wonderfully tasty dish in Hanoi, in the North of Vietnam. It was to die for. I have re-created a version of the dish, but to be honest, it doesn’t taste as good as the original!
You’ll need to have a very tender and a bit fatty beef cut, which is not easy when you’re not in Asia, and this is why in my opinion it is so difficult to re-create Chinese and Vietnamese recipes in the West.
Here is a little trick: if you can pound the beef with a wooden hammer or a pestle, without breaking the fiber, you can obtain similar tastes to the original recipe.
Serves 2 – Total time 50 min
2/3 lb (300g) beef, tender cut, sliced
1 tbsp light Chinese soy sauce
1/2 tbsp fish sauce (nuoc mam)
1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 tbsp raw cane sugar or palm sugar
3 lemongrass sticks
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
chile, fresh, to taste
Start by placing the beef slices on a kitchen board; cover with plastic wrap, and flatten it using the blade of a large knife. You can just skip this step if you’re unsure about how to do that.
Cut the beef into stripes, and place in a bowl together with soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and ginger. Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes.
Chop the lemongrass with a large Chinese knife, or in your food processor. It needs to be chopped finely. Don’t use your professional knife to do this; lemongrass is pretty much as hard as wood and it could damage the blade.
Once the beef has marinated, mix with chopped lemongrass and sesame seeds. Add some chili (powder or flakes) if you want to add a spicy touch. But this is entirely optional.
Grill the beef on a very hot cast iron pan or thick bottomed frying pan, without any added fat. Make sure you press on the beef using a wooden spoon while it’s grilling. A couple of minutes should be enough unless you like your beef really well done.
Serve this beef with Thai rice or rice vermicelli, coriander leaves, and a Vietnamese sauce for spring rolls or bo bun, to wich you add a crushed garlic clove and some fresh chili pepper, chopped.