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Sunday, December 6, 2009

If Martha made Vietnamese--Bò Nướng Xả or Grilled Beef Skewers with Lemon Grass

I've had a couple folks ask me why I make so much Vietnamese food. Well first of all, have you seem my 2 youngest gorgeous kiddos? I don't take raising my Vietnamese son and daughter lightly. I'm from the good ol' USA, and that puts me at a significant disadvantage. Papa's and my ancestry is a smorgasbord of Irish Catholics, Pollock, northern European, with a little American Indian thrown in. There isn't a drop of Asian blood in us, and the impact of this isn't lost on me. But we fell in love with Vietnam, it's kind hearted, generous people, and the Viet culture hook, line, and sinker. Truth be told, if there was any way that we could drop everything and go live there for a few years, we would. All this to say that I try to be as intentional as I can and learn as much about the Vietnamese culture as I can from half way across the world. Food and cooking has been an easy way to accomplish some of this. Add the fact that Vietnamese food is a spectacular combination of Asian cuisine, (with lots of crisp fresh veggies/herbs and wonderful flavor combinations) and has a dash of French influences like croissants and baguettes and cream, and Vietnamese cuisine is sheer perfection to me. And it's even good for you since the French influences are subtle. It's a very healthy way for us to eat, pretty cheap to cook, (once we got our pantry stocked with the essentials) easy for this mama of 6 to make, a great way for our family to come together since we are all learning together, and everybody loves it.

Well here's the next recipe. I know I probably keep saying that each new recipe is my favorite, but this one really is now.
Bò Nướng Xả or Grilled Beef Skewers with Lemon Grass ( I doubled the recipe below for our large brood.)

1 lb boneless beef (sirloin, tri-tip...)
3 T lemon grass (finely chopped, pulverized, or run through food processor)
1 T chopped garlic
1 T chopped onion
2 T fish sauce
1 T sugar
1 t pepper (white, but black is ok too)
1 t soy sauce
1 t sesame oil
Bamboo skewers
Vermicelli rice noodles (or white rice is ok too, but we much prefer the noodles)
Nuoc cham dipping sauce (the very easy recipe is here)
Garnish with fresh mint/cilantro/green leaf lettuce,cucumber slices (tastylishousness even without these)

Slice the beef thinly into strips across grain about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Here's Papa thinking he's a funny man!  Not.  He told me not to include this picture.  I told him I am starting the process of documenting the evidense. 
To make the marinade, combine lemongrass, garlic, onions, fish sauce, sugar, pepper, soy sauce, and oil in food processor or blender and blend till smooth. Add a little water if you need. Add to meat, stir to coat evenly. Set aside to at least 30 minutes.

At this point, I was getting behind and needed to get the babes in the bath, study for a 1st grade spelling test, answer the phone, check 5th grade math homework, stop the dog from eating Papa's new shoes, have cuddle time with Tess, settle an urgent dispute between warring factions of teenage daughters, wax some facial hair, turn over the laundry only to discover that someone has once again left a crayon in the dryer forever marking everything in the load with "red-orange" highlights, and listen to Boo's latest story of Grace. (Now where were those bonbons that stay-at-home moms get to eat?) So I put my meat and marinade in a zip lock bag, shook it all up to coat it, labeled it, and put it in the freezer till the weekend. That night Super-mom declared that we have leftovers for dinner!  Oh well.  A few days later, I pulled it out of the freezer, and it marinade as it thawed.
Cook rice vermicelli in boiling water, for 5-10 minutes (it cooks more quickly than Italian pasta, so don't let it over cook. Cooking time depends on the type of noodles you have.)  Drain and set aside.
A word about Asian noodles... this aisle at the Asian grocery store is daunting. Truth be told it is really about 2 whole isles of nothing but noodles, and this lowly soccer mom is really intimidated by it. I never know what to get. So after MANY attempts, now I just get what I think looks right. Long story short... wing it ladies.
Here are the ones I got. I picked them 'cause they are really thin like vermicelli. That and 'cause they say, "once tasted ever wanted" on the package, and I just think it's funny when things get lost in translation. I guess this is my disclaimer that I'm not sure they are the right type of noodles. But the dish worked out really well so they couldn't have been far off.
Put meat on skewers going back and forth, filling up most of the skewer, but leave room on the ends.
On a hot grill, cook on each side a couple minutes. I used our indoor grill.
Mound a pile of cooked vermicelli noodles in a bowl, and top with 2-3 skewers of beef. Guests will garnish with their choice of fresh mint, basil, green leaf lettuce, and/or cucumber. Pour approximately 1/4 c of nuoc cham on top. Then toss it all together.

This recipe will definitely get made again in our home.  And soon!  We were all craving it again even before we had finished our bowls!  Yummmmmmmmm!


  1. the recipe and final product looks fantastic! Loved how you used the skewers--would be fun to eat that way.


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