COMPLIMENTARY RECIPE: Beef tossed with wild betel leaf and lemongrass
“It was so much fun cooking this dish on the streets of Saigon in District 1. Every time I walk past Hai Ba Trung Street, I always look out for Tuan, the street vendor who kindly let me borrow his cart to cook this dish. He is there every night without fail, and always with a great big smile on his face.” – Luke Nguyen
SERVES 4-6 AS PART OF A SHARED MEAL
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lemongrass stem, finely diced, white part only
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 chillies, finely diced, plus extra to garnish
300g (10 ½ oz) lean beef sirloin, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
15 betel leaves, roughly sliced
coriander (cilantro) sprigs, to garnish
Add the oil and lemongrass to a smoking-hot frying pan or wok. Cook for 5–10 seconds, or until fragrant, then add the garlic and chilli.
Now add the beef and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Season with the fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar, add the betel leaves and stir-fry for a further minute.
Transfer to a plate and garnish with the coriander and extra chilli. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
TIP - When dicing lemongrass, always use a sharp heavy knife. Don’t discard the green tips of a lemongrass stem — steep them in hot water and enjoy as lemongrass tea.