Monday, April 5, 2010

Vietnamese-inspired Grilled Beef

Nope! Not Pho Hoa (pronounced as “Pha”) as one might expect. This noodle dish might as well be Vietnam’s national dish—hot steaming broth with beef slices and egg or rice vermicelli noodles served with fresh herbs and aromatics. The smell alone, assures me satisfaction. But I digress.

Instead, I’d like to share an evening of barbecue cookout we had on the third floor, roof top in Ho Chi Minh. We ordered beef slices, fish fillet, manila clams baked with cheese, fried spring rolls and Chinese-style fried rice.

In the middle of the table is a stove top round, somewhat flat grill, where we cooked our own food. We were served with various sauces and dips. Including one saucer that has salt and pepper with lime on the side. The salt I understand was “toasted” first.

Our interactive menu consisted of beef slices with 5-spice powder and fish fillet both in oil marinade. What I enjoyed the most were the beef slices marinated in lemongrass and chili.

I thoroughly enjoyed the food trip we had in Ho Chi Minh. While it was easy to gain weight especially since I had a checklist of must-try eating places; we walked the calories off as we went from place to place, museum to museum. Really, a strategy so we had more reasons to eat. To be honest, I don’t mind going back to Vietnam for second servings.

Now that we’re home in Manila, I decided to make a fusion dish—give it that Pinoy touch.

With my trusty mortar and pestle, I pounded away lemon grass and chili, added a little salt. I mixed with a local bbq marinade brand to make it sweet and savory at the same time. The lemon grass or tanglad gives it a delicious flavor and aroma that is unlike the usual. It is best with plain, steaming rice if you ask me.

· 750gms- 1 k beef bite-size slices, sirloin- pounded with meat mallet. I have to say that pounding the meat makes it tender and absorbs more marinade. So, this is a worthwhile step.
· 8 stalks of lemongrass, just the tender, white part
· 1 piece of chili
· 1 pack of Mama Sita’s BBQ marinade, 160 ml (or your favorite Filipino –style bbq marinade)
· 1/4 – 1/2 cup vegetable oil
· Salt and pepper to taste

Get the white part of the lemongrass and pound in mortar and pestle, along with the fresh chili. If you are a chili head, then add another piece. Add the liquid BBQ marinade and oil and mix thoroughly with the meat. Chill in the ref for at least 30 minutes. I prefer it over hot iron grill because somehow it becomes watery when cooked in the pan.
I found that the marinade was completely absorbed by the meat, so every bite was perfectly packed with flavor. Should you want to stay authentic, simply used lemongrass, chili, garlic, salt and pepper and oil.

I was so excited over this that I served it to a couple-friend of ours, along with my version of Vietnamese-Filipino spring roll. Suffice to say, we had a good time enjoying our meal, exchanging plenty of stories,ideas and encouraging one another.

Ahhh, that’s in the next blog!

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