A little nostalgia with Southern-style beef noodle salad (Bún bò Nam Bộ)

Just 3 days ago, I and my girlfriend celebrated the anniversary of our first real date 😀 We’ve been together for a several years, there are ups and downs but we still love each other and … we both love food!!! This dish is so special because it brings me back to the day when I came to her house to prep some food for a party the next day, wearing a chef’s jacket. No doubt it was a beautiful moment. In fact, the photo you see is taken at her house about a year ago, made by me and my girlfriend with a lot of love. She did some prep and help out cooking as well (by the way she makes some awesome cakes and pies, gotta try them out some time 😉 ). So what to know about this dish? Southern-style beef noodle salad is a typical Vietnamese dish, it’s a street food but you can also find it in restaurants. The bottom line is that the dish is comfort food for us Vietnamese, and it’s so typical because of that delicate balance between sweet, sour, hot and salty in combination with the freshness and crunch of the beautiful fresh herbs you can find in Vietnam. Every mouthful has to be full of different textures and has to be unforgettable. If you have a chance to visit Vietnam, it’s the dish to try. But why not try this at home and impress your family and friends? (maybe cook with your girlfriend like me? 😀 )

*Ingredients: (approx.) serves 2

– Rice noodle 220 gr (Bún tươi/khô)
– Beef (tender cuts would be great) 200 gr (Bò)
– 2 asian shallots finely chopped (hành ta)
– Minced garlic 3 tbsp (tỏi)
– Roasted peanuts (unsalted) 3 tbsp (lạc rang)
– Fried shallots 2 tbsp (hành phi)
– Fish sauce + Rice vinegar + Sugar = Sweet sour sauce (Nước mắm chua ngọt)
– Light soy + Oyster sauce = 3 tbsp (Magi + Dầu hào)

– Non-aromatic oil (do not use olive oil) 3 tbsp (Dầu ăn)
– Green/red chilies to taste (Ớt xanh/đỏ)
– Been sprouts (100 gr) (giá đỗ)

– Salt and pepper (Muối + Tiêu)
– Cucumbers (Dưa chuột)
– An array of fresh herbs: lettuce, coriander, mint, spearmint,… (xà lách, mùi, bạc hà, húng, kinh giới, etc.)

*Methods:

1. Cook the rice noodles according to instructions on package. Immediately shock in ice-cold water afterwards to stop it from cooking. Rinse and put aside.

TIP! In Vietnam, you can go straight to the market and get the rice noodle done for you 😀

2. Slice the beef into thin slices and marinate in some garlic, shallots, 1 tsp of sugar, the oyster and soy sauce. Set aside for 15 minutes.

TIP! In order to slice the beef thinly, you need to froze it beforehand until it is quite firm (but not hard), and please get an extremely sharp chef knife otherwise it would be 99,99% impossible to cut it thinly.

3. Add sugar and water in a bowl and mix well. This is the base for the sweet source sauce that will give the distinctive taste for the dish. After the sugar has dissolved, add fish sauce (nước mắm) and rice vinegar. The catch here is that I didn’t put any measure for the sauce since I’ve never made it according to any recipe but just taste and adjustment. You should try that out too! Just add everything (even more water and sugar) until you hit the right balance between sweet, sour and saltiness. Lastly, add minced garlic and some finely chopped chilies.

4. Wash the fresh herbs carefully, drain all the excess water out, slice into smaller pieces and set aside.

5. Put the flame on highest possible, make sure your pan is hot, add oil, garlic, shallots to the pan. Add the beef and bean sprouts, stir-fry until just done. Set aside.

6. Use a peeler and peel the cucumbers into thin, long pieces. Wrap it around your finger to make a ring for plating up later.

7. Assembling the dish: put a generous handful of herbs at the bottom. Put some sauce on top. Add the rice noodle and then the stir-fried beef. Spoon more sauce on top. Put the cucumber rings on the edges of the plate. Sprink some peanuts and fried shallots on top. DONE!

This is how it looks like when I made it

Image

*Pressure points:

– Don’t over cook the rice noodle. Mushy rice noodle is …

– Don’t over cook the beef. Chewy and stringy beef is …

– Always taste and adjust along the way, there’s no recipe that fits everyone’s taste.

Hope you enjoy it!

Le Degustationator.

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