It has been a couple of weeks since my last post and I don’t even have a good reason as to why I’ve been away. I was still cooking and eating lots. However, no new recipes were really lighting me up which is very frustrating (and a little bit scary) when you write a food blog. Fortunately, a good friend convinced me to check out a local Vietnamese restaurant he had been raving about and things started to turn around.
I ordered their basil lemongrass beef spring rolls and was immediately smitten. The beautifully seared beef generously seasoned with finely minced flecks of fresh lemongrass was enough to pull me out of my food funk. Surprisingly, I did not have a good Vietnamese lemongrass beef recipe in my repertoire and decided I needed to rectify that ASAP. A couple of attempts and many dirty dishes later, I now have a recipe I’m totally excited about. The lemongrass flavor is definitely present without being overbearing and a little fish sauce and honey adds the typical sweet-sour-salty Vietnamese flair.
The lemongrass beef is fabulous in spring rolls but for a weeknight dinner, I take the slightly easier route and serve them with rice vermicelli noodles. If you’ve never cooked rice vermicelli noodles before, visit my post for Vietnamese Grilled Chicken with Vermicelli Noodles for some helpful hints.
The garlic hoisin sauce is a very non-traditional sauce for vermicelli bowls but if you love hoisin sauce, it’s a great change of pace. It’s actually the sauce my mother always made to eat with soft spring rolls. Since a vermicelli bowl is essentially a deconstructed spring roll, I decided to try the garlic hoisin sauce with this dish and really liked the flavor it added. If you’re not wild about hoisin sauce or you really love the traditional fish sauce based dipping sauce, nuoc cham, then definitely stay with the traditional sauce. I included a recipe for the traditional dipping sauce below in case you want to go that route. I tasted both versions and really liked them both. Just don’t try both sauces together in the same bowl.
The garlic hoisin sauce is a bold flavored sauce and a little goes a long way. If you’re used to pouring lots of fish sauce in your vermicelli bowls, you’ll want to dial back the amount of sauce you use by quite a bit. My advice is to start with a conservative amount of sauce (about what you see in the photo above) then give everything a good toss so the noodles get evenly coated. Then taste to see if you want to add more sauce.
For the beef
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon chili paste (like sambal oelek)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons finely minced lemongrass, tender inner white bulb only
- 1 pound top round roast (or london broil), sliced against the grain into 1/8-inch thick slices
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
For the garlic hoisin sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon water
- Shredded carrots, lettuce, and cucumbers
- Chopped cilantro leaves
- Chopped mint leaves
- Cooked Vietnamese rice vermicelli noodles (about 8 ounces)
- Crushed peanuts
For the beef
- In a medium bowl, stir together fish sauce, honey, chili paste, garlic and lemongrass. Add sliced beef and massage seasoning into beef. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.
- Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. When oil is nearly smoking, add beef and quickly stir-fry until beef is lightly browned and just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Work in batches if necessary so meat browns and doesn’t steam.
For the garlic hoisin sauce
- Place oil and garlic in a small saucepan. Heat oil over medium-low heat until garlic just starts to sizzle and is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add hoisin sauce and water; stir to combine. Cook sauce until it is warmed through.
- Place desired amount of noodles, fresh vegetables, cilantro, and mint in a bowl. Top with beef. Drizzle desired amount of garlic hoisin sauce on beef and sprinkle with crushed peanuts.
If you do not have a wok, you can use a cast iron skillet to sear the beef.
To save time, you can cook the noodles and make the sauce while the beef marinates.
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon chili garlic sauce
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic, optional
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Mix the sugar and water together in a medium bowl until all the sugar is dissolved. Stir in remaining ingredients.