Hoi An Beef Salad
By Sam Wass, Medium Well
After spending the festive period in Vietnam and travelling the length of the country via overnight trains and coaches, I’ve certainly had my eyes opened – particularly when it comes to food. As you would expect, Vietnamese cuisine leads with Asian flavours and thanks to its history as a French colony, is heavily influenced by Europe too.
Whether in the North or South of the country I can say hand on heart everything we ate was bursting with flavour and so fresh. Even the street food, which tested my English sensibilities, was mouth-wateringly good. In the towns we were occupied with a variety of noodle and rice dishes which came in soup or stir fry formats and always had an endless supply of fresh herbs to add. On the coast, the speciality was barbecuing the catch of the day and we enjoyed hand-sized tiger prawns, clams and squid, alongside speciality crocodile and snake!
What struck me about how the Vietnamese eat is the occasion of meal times. Ingredients are bought from the plethora of street and night markets and then a cooking station is effortlessly established on the side of the road, quickly populated with a congregation of hungry locals, at any time of the day!
We were so taken with the cuisine that we booked onto a cookery course and since being home have already tested our culinary learnings again. Alongside the prawn spring rolls and banana leaf fish dishes we made, one of our favoured from the cookery demonstration was a spicy beef salad.
Below I have shared the ingredients and instructions for the salad – I hope you too enjoy a taste of Vietnam.
Hoi An Beef Salad (serves four people)
- 200 grams of finely sliced beef
- 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- Salt and pepper to season
- 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 125g lettuce (we used iceberg)
- 125g papaya (grated into long strips)
- 125g tomatoes (finely sliced, no seeds)
- 60g cucumber (cut into thin strips)
- 30g onion (finely sliced)
- 4 fresh red chillies (finely diced and seeds removed)
- Juice of one lime
- 1 tbsp of fish sauce
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 1 clove of garlic (crushed)
- 2 tbsp crushed peanuts
- 60g mint
- 60g coriander
- 30g Asian basil (this has an aniseed flavour)
Marinate the beef in the marinade mixture for one to three hours (the longer the better). Grill or barbeque the beef on a high flame, then allow to cool for two minutes. Place the salad mixture into a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Add the beef and mix gently. Move mixture to a serving bowl and sprinkle on the topping. Transfer to small bowls and serve (best eaten with chopsticks!).
Georgina Dunkley is Head of PR agency, The Tonic Communications