So, with that in mind, here's a simple Southern Vietnamese style salad recipe which I adapted after reading up some recipes (in this yer book, amongst others). This kind of food is right up my street - fresh, healthy & full of flavour. Easy too....
Beef & starfruit salad
The dressing is the classic Viet dipping sauce / dressing 'nouc cham'. As i understand it there are lots of variations on the recipe but the one below is the most common.
Ingredients (serves 2, or 4 as part of larger meal):
- 250g or so of thick cut steak, i used fillet but rump, sirloin or ribeye would all work a treat
- 1 large / 2 small not-too-ripe starfuit **
- A handful of plain skinless peanuts - toasted in a dry pan for few mins until nicely coloured
- 1-2 long red chillies
- Small bunch Thai basil
- Small bunch mint
- Large handful of beansprouts
- A couple of peeled Asian red shallots (optional)
- 2 coriander roots
- 4 slices of peeled galangal
- 3 sticks lemongrass, tough outer layers peeled off
- pinch of sugar
- tablespoon of fish sauce
Nouc cham dressing / sauce:
- 3 teaspoons fish sauce
- 3 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoon caster sugar
- 4 teaspoons water
- 2 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 clove garlic, finely sliced
- 1 bird's eye chilli, finely sliced
First make the marinade your beef: chop the first three ingredients roughly then pound to a paste in a pestle and mortar before mixing in the fish sauce and sugar. Rub this into your steak and leave for least an hour, but even 24 if you can.
When marinated, grill the steak on a bbq or griddle pan to your liking (an yes medium rare is clearly the best choice here). Set aside to rest.
Next make your dressing: add the water, vinegar and sugar to a small pan and bring just to simmer. Turn off heat, give a stir and allow to cool a bit then add the fish sauce, lime juice, sliced chilli and garlic. Taste and adjust to your preference.
To finish the salad: slice your shallots quite thin & the red chilli at an angle, cut your starfruit in to nice long shards or, if that sounds too poncy, then any-old-how will also be fine!
Cut your now rested steak into nice bite-sized pieces. Mix these with all the salad ingredients. Dress with about half the nouc cham sauce, toss again and serve.
Stick the rest of the sauce in a dipping bowl and serve alongside.
Hope you like it. More Vietnamese recipes to come.