Vietnamese cooking demo

On Friday night, my friend Minh and I taught a Vietnamese cooking lesson at the International Festival in Raleigh.  My friend David took some pictures of the event that I wanted to share, thanks David!

I assembled Summer Rolls (recipe in a previous post), and Minh demonstrated how to make Lemongrass Beef (recipe below).  Everyone in the audience got to taste a bit of each. I also made two dipping sauces – a hoisin sauce and peanut butter combination, and nuoc cham, a mixture of fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, red pepper and garlic.  The Vietnamese have been influenced by the Chinese concept of finding a balance between 5 flavors – sour, sweet, bitter, hot and salty.  Nuoc cham is a good example of this balance and is commonly used with Vietnamese meals.

To demonstrate how easy it is to make summer rolls, I asked two different volunteers to help roll them.  Herman, a Chinese-American from the audience shown here, did a great job of assembling and rolling a summer roll, as did our other volunteer.

Because of all the time at the International Festival, plus some church commitments and a house guest – I had no time to look for new recipes this weekend.  So for tonight’s dinner, I made the same Lemongrass Beef recipe except that I added some carrots to the stirfry so it would feel a bit more healthy (snow or snap peas would be good too).  I didn’t actually get to taste any of the beef on Friday night, so I was anxious to try it. It’s amazing how fragrant and delicious these simple ingredients are together – if the skillet wasn’t so hot I would have licked it clean!

Lemongrass Beef
10-12 oz. beef sirloin
2 Tbsp. minced lemongrass*
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, thinly sliced

Thinly slice the beef sirloin or another tender cut of beef. The sirloin I had was very thin, so I sliced it on an angle to get a wider thin slice. Mix the beef with the lemongrass, oyster sauce and fish sauce and let it marinate together for about half an hour. When you’re ready to start cooking, heat a skillet or wok to high heat.  Add a couple tablespoons of canola oil and stir fry the garlic, onion and carrot for about 2 minutes, then add the beef. Continue to stir and fry (hence the term “stir fry”!) for about 3-4 more minutes, or until the beef is cooked through. Serve with rice or rice noodles, and garnish with fresh cucumber slices, cilantro sprigs and/or crushed peanuts.

*You can buy lemongrass in most Asian markets, and some regular grocery stores.  I even recently found lemongrass in the herb section at a Kroger in one of those squeezable herb tubes, already minced and ready to use.

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