|Dry beef noodles, Hanoi style|
Though Vietnam may lie in my backyard, due to unknown reasons it was out of our travel radar.
Vietnam as a possible destination only came into our consciousness because of girlgirl's Vietnamese classmates. I finally yielded to Hanoi's waving because of 1) Jetstar's $300 all in ticket 2) the cool weather in December and 3) its authentic food due to its distance from the commercial south.
As a prelude to our Hanoi trip, I have whipped up a couple of Viet Hanoian dishes to tantalize the other 2 intrepid travelers . Even as I foresee the language to be beyond me, there is always the love of food that would endear us to the place and her people.
The first attempt of my cuisine lineup is this dry beef noodles. Girlgirl is not a meat eater but lemon grass with beef met her total approval, which speaks lots. Fish sauce is to Vietnamese as brie cheese is to the French, an acquired taste. For us growing up with durian and sambal belachan, Viet fish sauce barely caused us to bat an eye lid. I find that to minimize the 'impact' of the sauce, it is best to go with herbs ,such as parsley or basil. Alternatively, bring the sauce to a minimum by cooking until it caramelizes.
For more reading, check out 'Hanoi street food-cooking and traveling in Vietnam' by Tom Vandenberghe and Luk Thys
Here's my version of Bun Bo Nam Bo.
2 lemon grass stalk - white tender part only
2 cloves of garlic
3 portions of beef, sukiyaki grade,thinly sliced
1 tsp red chilli flakes
1 TBSP Vietnamese or Thai fermented fish sauce ( substitute : light soy sauce )
3 cups bean sprouts
5 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
3 cups kailan
Cut the white part of the lemon grass stalks into slivers.
Toss the sliced beef with lemon grass and garlic. Stir in fish sauce and toss well.
Marinate for 30 minutes.
In a hot pot, heat canola oil. Fry the beef until beef is just cooked.
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.
Parboil the noodles and vegetables , about 30 seconds.
Distribute the noodles into 4 separate portions.
Top the noodles with the beef, garnish with ground peanuts, chilli flakes , parsley and shallots.
(optional) drizzle some fish sauce over the condiments.