This recipe went down extremely well but I would say, make it first for two people because it’s very easy but there are loads of stages and by the time we sat down it was past 9. I think that’s fine, some people don’t…
FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE (nuoc cham)
I’d normally make double this so that I can drink it later – it’s that good
60ml fish sauce
60ml rice vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red birdseye chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
FOR THE BEEF
4 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
800g minced beef (don’t get the low-fat/lean version)
Groundnut oil, for cooking
4 lemongrass stems, sliced lengthways into quarters
6 spring onions, white parts sliced (green parts discarded)
1 small onion, chopped
600g water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
FOR THE SALAD
300g dried rice vermicelli noodles
1 cucumber, cut into sticks
1 handful mint, leaves torn off stems
1 handful coriander, leaves torn off stems
150g iceberg lettuce, chopped
Fried shallots (available in Chinese supermarkets)
4 spring onions, finely sliced
- First, make the dipping sauce. Mix the rice wine vinegar in a small pan with the fish sauce, sugar and 100ml water in a small pan over medium heat and stir to combine. Heat the mixture to just below boiling, then take it off the heat. Add the chilli and garlic. When you’re about to serve and it’s cool, add the lime juice.
- Then, in a bowl, combine the fish sauce, sugar, a pinch of sea salt and loads of freshly ground pepper. Mix it well then add the beef and mix again so that beef is as coated as possible. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
- Cook the vermicelli noodles as per the pack instructions and set aside tossed in a bit of sesame oil so that they don’t stick together, and cover with a damp tea towel until you need them.
- Heat a large splash of groundnut oil in a wok ideally, or a massive frying pan. Add the onion and lemongrass and cook over a medium heat, until the onion is soft and the lemongrass smells amazing. Then add the garlic and cook that for a minute. Whack up the heat, add the marinated beef, then stir fry, stirring well and breaking up the beef as you go, for 3-4 minutes until it’s all browned. Then take the beef mixture out of the pan, set aside, then immediately add a bit more groundnut oil, put the water chestnuts into the pan and fry them on a high heat for a few minutes, then season them with some Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. When cooked, toss together with the beef mixture.
- Chop the cucumber into little sticks, rip the mint leaves off the stems, and chop the iceberg lettuce into chunks or strips, as you wish.
- Put the peanuts into a pan on a medium heat, and cook them for a few minutes shaking the pan regularly until they are browned. They turn very quickly so be careful – don’t leave them alone. When toasted, chop them roughly. They’ll go crispy as they cool.
- Don’t clean the pan! When you’re ready to serve, make a salad base of the iceberg lettuce, some beansprouts, the cucumber sticks and some of the mint. Then heat up the pan again, put some more groundnut oil in, heat to high, add the beef and water chestnut mixture, fry it up for a minute, then add the noodles, fry them up, mix it all together then put on top of the salad mixture. Douse it in the dipping sauce, then top with the remaining torn mint leaves, toasted chopped peanuts, fried shallots and sliced spring onion.