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Episode 301: Barbecue Health Food

Vietnamese Beef and Rice Noodle Salad

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Serves: 4 to 6
Method: Direct grilled
Advance preparation: 1 to 2 hours for marinating the beef and soaking the rice noodles

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Vietnamese Beef and Rice Noodle Salad

Recipe Notes

  • Advance Prep: 1 to 2 hours for marinating the beef and soaking the rice noodles
  • Method: Direct grilling

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef tenderloin, sliced thinly across the grain (partially freeze for easier slicing)

For the marinade:

  • A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated or minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated or finely minced
  • 1 large fresh shallot, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, trimmed and white parts thinly sliced, or 3 strips lemon zest (each ½ by 2 inches—removed with a vegetable peeler and rough chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 small hot red chiles, seeded and diced or very thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Asian (dark) sesame oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

For the noodles:

  • 8 ounces rice vermicelli

To finish the salad:

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup thinly sliced napa cabbage
  • 1 yellow, orange, or red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium to large carrot, trimmed, peeled, and cut into matchsticks
  • 2 to 4 Thai chiles, jalapenos, or other hot chiles, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 1 bunch Thai basil, washed, dried, and torn into sprigs
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, wash, dried, and torn into sprigs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Vietnamese Salad Dressing
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped roasted peanuts, in a serving bowl

Recipe Steps

1: Arrange the beef in a large nonreactive baking dish.

2: Make the marinade: Place the garlic, lemongrass, ginger, cilantro, chiles, sugar, and pepper in a heavy mortar and pound to a paste with a pestle. Pound in the fish sauce and sesame oil. Stir in the lime juice and sesame seeds. Spoon the marinade over the beef, turning the pieces to coat on both sides. Marinate the beef, covered, in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, turning the pieces once or twice.

3: Place the rice vermicelli in a large bowl. Add cold water to cover by 2 inches. Soak the vermicelli until pliable, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 1 gallon of water to a rolling boil. Drain the soaked vermicelli and add to the boiling water. Cook until just tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the vermicelli in a colander and rinse with cold water until completely cool. Drain well and fluff the noodles with your fingers.

4: Line a platter, large shallow bowl, or 4 serving bowls with lettuce leaves. Mound the rice noodles on top. Add the cucumbers, napa cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, chiles, mung beans, and the basil and mint sprigs. Cover with a damp dish towel or paper towel to keep crisp and fresh (remove it before serving).

5: Make the dressing: Spoon half of it over the salad.

6: Just prior to serving, set up your grill (I like to use a hibachi) for direct grilling and preheat the grill to high. Brush and oil the grill grate.

7: Grill the beef until brown on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

8: Arrange the grilled beef on top of the salad. Spoon on the remaining dressing, followed by the peanuts and chopped cilantro. Serve with chopsticks. Healthy eating never tasted so good!

Recipe Tips

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