Simple Suppers – Vietnamese Chilli Beef Stir-Fry

Vietnamese Chilli BeefI am a novice when it comes to Vietnamese food but I plan to learn much more about it. It is so fresh & tasty I reckon I could develop a bit of a habit. The recipe might look a bit complex for a stir-fry but it is well worth it. It is no more difficult to prepare than any stir fry but the ingredients list is quite long.

It is great for a simple supper as it does not take long & is healthy & satisfying. Some of the work is done earlier in the day & so it can be thrown together quickly at dinner time.Some of our other simple suppers include a lush steamed chicken dish, braised pork belly or harissa chicken. All good and quick to put together.

Don’t hold back on the herbs, Vietnamese food is all about those hits of freshness. It can take more chilli than I have put in the ingredients, this is for a medium heat. If you find it is too hot for you when cooking just throw in some sugar or honey to counter the chilli. The marinade should be fresh with garlic, ginger & especially lemongrass.

I first came across this dish when I was living in Peru. We used to make it as a daily special in the restaurant & it was very popular. The quality of beef in Peru is quite poor and it is often very tough so this was a useful way to prepare it as the marinade tenderised the meat. It is therefore possible to use cheap cuts and still get a good result. I used good steak on this occasion because we had some leftover but I would normally use something less extravagant.

The way you cook it might depend on your preference for the cooking of beef. I like mine quite rare so sometimes I cook it separately & stir-fry the rice & veg together with the marinade. Really this is a personal thing though. Here I just put it all in the wok & made sure to be very fast.

Vietnamese Chilli Beef

Vietnamese Chilli Beef Stir-Fry

Ingredients (serves 2):

Marinade (prepare at least 2 hours in advance)
200-300g beef
3-4 stalks lemongrass
2-3 cloves garlic
a thumb of fresh ginger
2 birds eye chillis
1 lime
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp coriander seeds (toasted and ground)
1 tbsp palm sugar or honey

Stir Fry
2 portions of cooked rice
4 spring onions
1 carrot
chinese greens
mint leaves
coriander leaves
50g peanuts (roasted & crushed)


1. The marinade is simple to prepare & is easier with a pestle & mortar to bash up the lemongrass, ginger, chilli & garlic then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Make sure to slice the lemongrass first to make sure you don’t get long fibers in the marinade. It is important to crush it to get the juices out as lemongrass is one of the main flavours of the dish. If you don’t have a pestle & mortar the marinade can be made in a food processor or just chop everything finely & crush the aromatics with the back of a knife.

Vietnamese Chilli Beef
2. Prepare the beef by slicing into bite sized pieces about 5mm thick. Make sure to cut across the grain of the meat & it will be more tender. Add this to the marinade, cover & refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

3. Once you are ready to cook the stir fry it is essential to get all the ingredients, including the garnishes ready as it only takes a few minutes of cooking. Chop the vegetables, take the herbs from the stalks and roast and crush the peanuts. Drain the liquid from the marinade and save to season the rice.

4. Get a wok really hot & add a little oil. Add the beef and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the carrot, spring onions and greens. Add about 2 tbsp of the liquid from the marinade.Vietnamese Chilli Beef
5. Fry these for a minute and add the rice. Once the rice is heated through check the seasoning. It will probably need more of the liquid.

6. Once the flavour is to your liking add the garnishes & toss everything together. Serve.
Vietnamese Chilli Beef

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