The heat of the Vietnamese beef and the scent of lemongrass on cool rice noodles and crunchy bean sprouts is a great example of the balance of hot and cold. I love that I can taste the flavor of the wok flame on the beef.–Pauline Nguyen
LC Cheat Sheet Note
This Vietnamese beef classic, a summery salad of sorts, is a jumble of tastes and textures and temperatures that jolt the senses in the best possible way. Sirloin marinated in lemongrass and fish sauce lends the recipe a wonderful lilt, though we’ve sometimes dispensed with that and instead tossed thinly sliced leftover steak in a skillet until it’s sizzling, then tossed that with the cooling rice noodles, cucumber, bean sprouts, and scallions, and been quite pleased.
Here’s a step-by-step approach to making the assembly of this recipe go lickety split:
- First get the water going for the rice noodles.
- Chop and tear and slice and toast everything you need for vermicelli salad, the dipping sauce, and the marinade for the Vietnamese beef.
- Toss the rice noodles in the water to soften.
- Finish your chopping and tearing and so forth.
- Stir together the dipping sauce and marinade.
- Take a moment to pour yourself a beer and nosh on a handful of peanuts.
- Assemble the vermicelli salad, toast the peanuts, wok-toss the marinated beef, and put it all together.
- Grab your fork or chopsticks.
Vietnamese Beef and Rice Noodle Salad Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 30 M
- Serves 6
- For the rice noodle salad
- 8 ounces rice vermicelli
- 2 handfuls bean sprouts
- 1 small cucumber (about 6 inches long), thinly sliced then cut into matchsticks
- 1 handful mint leaves, torn
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 cup firmly packed sliced iceberg lettuce
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts, plus more for garnish
- For the dipping sauce
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 bird’s eye chili (or other long, skinny, red chili pepper, such as serrano)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 to 2 limes)
- For the Vietnamese beef
- 1 pound sirloin
- 3 slender lemongrass stems, inner white parts only, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small white or red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Pinch salt
- Pinch finely ground white pepper
- Make the rice noodle salad
- 1. Cook the vermicelli in a large saucepan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the noodles to stand in the water for 5 more minutes. Dump into a colander and rinse under cold water, then cover with a damp towel and set aside at room temperature.
- 2. Divide the rice noodles among 4 serving bowls or plates. In a large bowl, toss the bean sprouts, cucumber, mint, scallions, and lettuce, and place on top of the vermicelli.
- 3. In a dry wok over medium heat, stir-fry or shake the peanuts just until aromatic, warm, and a soft brown color. Crush the peanuts in a mortar until coarsely ground. Sprinkle over the rice noodle mixture.
- Make the dipping sauce
- 4. Stir together the fish sauce, rice vinegar, water, and sugar in a saucepan and place over medium heat until just before boiling. Let cool.
- 5. Add the garlic, chile, and lime juice to the dipping sauce.
- Wok-fry the vietnamese beef
- 6. Slice the beef into 1/16 inch strips and combine in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the chopped lemongrass, the fish sauce, and half the garlic. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- 7. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Working in two batches, stir-fry the onion, remaining lemongrass, and remaining garlic just until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the beef, and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining onion, lemongrass, garlic, and beef. Return the first batch of beef to the wok, season with the sugar, salt, and pepper, and stir-fry to heat through.
- 8. Serve the beef on top of the rice noodle salad and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts. Pass the dipping sauce on the side and use it to dip or drizzle.
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Vietnamese Beef and Rice Noodle Salad Recipe © 2007 Pauline Nguyen. Photo © 2007 Alan Benson. All rights reserved.