This refreshing recipe for Vietnamese beef noodle salad (bun bo xao) is a wonderful combination of different textures, as well as hot and cold ingredients. It makes great summertime comfort food.
- 800 g beef topside, cut into 5 cm pieces and thinly sliced
- 3 lemongrass stalks, white stems only, finely chopped
- 200 g pkt dried rice vermicelli noodles
- 1–2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
- 2 cups fresh bean shoots
- 5 lettuce leaves, rolled and coarsely shredded
- 3 Lebanese cucumbers, halved and thinly sliced
- 10 leaves each Vietnamese mint, Thai basil, Thai coriander and spearmint
- 2 carrots, grated
- 250 ml (1 cup) water
- 1½ tbsp white sugar
- 60 ml (¼ cup) fish sauce (or to taste)
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 4–6 small chillies (or to taste), finely chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 15 minutes (or overnight if time permits)
Combine the sliced beef and all but 1 tbsp of the lemongrass. Stand for at least 10–15 minutes, or overnight.
Meanwhile, cook the vermicelli noodles in a large saucepan of boiling water for several minutes, stirring occasionally to separate noodles. Once the noodles can be separated completely, drain, rinse briefly with cold water and shake off the excess water. Allow the noodles to sit for at least 5 minutes.
To make the nuoc cham, place the water, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice in a bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the garlic and chilli, stir well and set aside.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat. Add the olive oil, then the remaining lemongrass and stir for 30 seconds. Add the onion and garlic and stir for another 30 seconds. Add the meat and stir continuously to coat in the lemongrass. Add the fish sauce. Continue to cook until the meat is just cooked through. When nearly ready, stir in the bean shoots.
Divide the lettuce, sliced cucumber, herbs and cooked rice noodles between serving bowls. Top with the beef, then grated carrot. Spoon over a generous amount of nuoc cham and serve.