Monday, May 24, 2010

Weeknight Dinner: A Trip to Vietnam

At my day job, our students (Executive MBA) headed off to Vietnam for their international trip. While I didn't get to travel with them, I did do some culinary research for them. I also put together a list of spices that I was interested in having, just in case they happened upon a spice market. To pretend that I was sharing in their adventure I decided to make an at home version of one my favorite Vietnamese restaurant dishes.

My favorite dish to get at local places like Pho Viet's (at the Super 88) and Le's is bun with grilled beef. It is a giant serving of vermicelli noodles with thinly sliced grilled beef and ground peanuts. On the side is a fresh cucumber, carrot, and cabbage salad and nuoc chom. To finish it off, I usually throw on some extra peanut sauce from the fresh rolls we order as an appetizer.

As I usually do, I looked to a cookbook for inspiration before creating my own take on the dish. In a previous post, I mentioned the cookbook I checked out from the library called Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. I found a recipe for grilled beef and got to work creating.

I wanted to make my own sauce, and there was an easy recipe for vegetarian nuoc chom. I didn't have all the ingredients but this did give a chance to use the lemongrass I recently purchased!

This was a fairly quick and easy meal to prepare. It was flavorful and tasted almost exactly like the number 10 with beef that I usually order! You could also make this with sliced chicken breast or even some grilled extra firm tofu slices. Enjoy!

#10 with Beef and Vegetarian Nuoc Chom

Vegetarian Nuoc Chom
Adapted from Hot Sour Salty Sweet

3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried lemongrass (1 finely chopped teaspoon if you have fresh lemongrass)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 hot chile minced (I skipped this, the hubby doesn't like hot chiles)
1 teaspoon sesame oil (the recipe calls for peanut oil)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar
In another bowl, or on the mixing board, work the garlic into a paste
Mix the paste, lemongrass, cinnamon and chile (if using) into the soy sauce and rice wine
Add oil, sugar and salt and stir well
Can be refrigerated for up to 3 days

Quick Cool Veggie Salad
1 broccoli crown, cut into florets
1/2 English cucumber, cut into 1/4 inch matchsticks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch matchsticks
Rice wine vinegar
Sesame oil

Mix the cut vegetables in a serving bowl
Add enough rice wine vinegar to coat the veggies
Add about 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
Sprinkle with salt
Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve meal

Grilled Beef
Inspired by Grilled Lemongrass Beef Recipe in Hot Sour Salty Sweet

1.25 pounds flank steak
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bird chile finely chopped (or hot chile), optional
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil

Mix the marinade ingredients together and add to a bowl or large plastic food storage bag
Cut the meat against the grain into 1/8 inch slices, then cut into 1.5 inch lengths
Place the meat in with the marinade in the bowl and cover, or in the plastic bag and seal
I only marinated the beef for about 30 minutes at room temperature (You could marinate for up to 1 hour at room temperature or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator)
Prepare the grill pan (or grill)
Grill the meat for about 1-1.5 minutes per side for medium-rare/almost medium

Cook Time:
Sauce: 5 minutes
Veggies: 10 minutes (depending on how fast you chop)
Meat: 10 minutes prep, marinating time, 5 minutes cooking

Cutting board, knives, mixing bowls, grill pan (or grill), serving bowls, utensils

Serve with vermicelli noodles (make according to box). I like mine a little spicy, so I added a generous dollop of sriracha on the side.


  1. mmm - I love bun! I used to love this place near my college in Worcester. I might have to give this a try myself!

  2. mmm - I love bun! I used to love this place near my college in Worcester. I might have to give this a try myself!


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