COMPLIMENTARY RECIPE: Beef tossed with wild betel leaf and lemongrass

Beef tossed with wild betel leaf and lemongrass.jpg

“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



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.

Phuong Nguyen