I grew up eating and cooking this dish. Soft silky vermicelli noodles combined with fresh mint, herbs and crunchy peanuts topped with lemongrass beef makes for a light, tasty and extremely textural meal. This is a classic southern Vietnamese street food.
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) beef sirloin or rump steak
- 3 lemongrass stems, white part only, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 2 tsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- pinch of fine white pepper
- vermicelli salad or jasmine rice, to serve
- 1 tbsp fried red Asian shallots
- 1 tbsp chopped roasted peanuts
- 2 tbsp dipping fish sauce
- 1 handful cooked Vermicelli noodles
- 1 handful perilla leaves
- 1 handful mint leaves
- 1 cucumber
- 1 handful beans sprouts
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.
Marinating time 10 minutes
Slice the beef into 2 mm (1/16 in) strips and combine in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the chopped lemon grass, all the fish sauce and half the garlic. Allow the meat to marinate for 10 minutes.
Add half the oil to a wok over medium heat and fry half of the onion, half of the remaining lemon grass and half of the remaining garlic for 1–2 minutes, or until fragrant. Increase the heat to very high and add half the beef and its marinade to the wok. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then remove the beef from the wok.
Repeat the previous process with the remaining beef, onion, lemon grass and garlic. Return the first batch of beef to the wok, season with the sugar, salt and pepper, and continue to stir-fry to heat through. Serve on top of vermicelli salad.
To finish, top with the essential fried shallots, peanuts and dipping fish sauce.