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Vietnamese Spaghetti and Meatballs

15 Apr

Not really. But, this dish has the same comforting familiarity that is easy to make and is a great all around meal. I’ve tried the pork version – Bun Thit Nuong – several times but haven’t gotten the recipe right, IMO. I also have found recipes prepared with coconut milk, which seemed strange. This version with beef, however, we believe is the winner.

Grilled Lemongrass Beef and vegetables

Look at that beautiful bowl…

Bún thịt  xào xả ớt (Stir-Fried Beef with Chili and Lemongrass)

1 lb beef steak, cut thinly in strips (sirloin, flank, etc.)

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp Maggi seasoning

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp cornstarch (to thicken sauce)

3 cloves minced garlic

1 or 2 chili peppers, thinly sliced (we had Thai chilis on hand)

1 stalk lemongrass minced, white fleshy part

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced (yellow or white also fine, just use what you have on hand)

2 tablespoons olive oil for cooking

1  scallion, green part sliced

Mix the sugar, Maggi seasoning, fish sauce, chilis and cornstarch in a bowl and add meat. Massage and mix thoroughly. You gotta love your ingredients – make sure the marinade is in all the nooks and crannies. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes. I always do this step before chopping veggies and washing herbs, as that takes some time.

Per usual, make sure you have all of the fresh fixings. Whatever crisp, fresh vegetables you like and a heaping pile of rau, herbs. This Saintsbury Brown Ranch Carneros Chardonnay is a perfect glass to accompany the rich, spicy and fresh meal.

Vegetables and seasoning for grilled pork with noodles

Now you’re ready to stir fry the beef. Heat a wok or other stir-fry friendly pan and add 2 tbsp neutral oil – I’m using olive oil for everything. Add the garlic and lemongrass, and stir for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Then toss in the sliced onions to mix well for another minute or two. Move the onion, garlic and lemongrass off to the side and toss in the beef – marinade and all – and let sear undisturbed for a couple of minutes. See how the bottom is browned? Let the sugars help to sear the meat before tossing around to cook thoroughly. Add the sliced scallion ends at the last minute. You don’t want those to get too soggy.

Stirfrying marinated beef

While this is happening, add the vermicelli noodles to your serving bowls and have nearby to plate. Have all of the fixings at the table to allow custom final prep. We love plain, fresh sliced carrots in lieu of the sugar/vinegared versions restaurants serve. Spoon nuoc mam cham over the completed bowls and slurp to your heart’s content.

See? Just like spaghetti and meatballs.

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