So this recipe is my new favourite. At the moment, I’m making so many new recipes that my family haven’t eaten the same meal more than once pretty much since the start of lockdown. So when I decide to have the same meal twice in one week, I know it’s a good one.
When I made these noodle bowls, I was tired, I didn’t know what they would turn out like, everyone was starving, and I was generally in a bad mood. I’d started cooking later than I should have and I knew my family were getting impatient. I got to the point where I just wanted to get it onto the table as fast as I could. But when we tried these noodle bowls, everyone’s attitude changed. They were just SO good. Next level good. The beef itself was so full of flavour and mixed with the tasty noodle sauce and the crunchy vegetables it was just delicious.
I got this recipe from one of my favourite sites, iamafoodblog.com which has some great recipes. It says this is a really authentic version of the Vietnamese dish Bún bò xã ớt which means beef with lemongrass and chilli. They say in the comments to share this dish far and wide, as there are some dodgy, unauthentic versions swimming around on the internet, so when I found out how tasty it was I just had to share it here. The beef really is the star of the dish and can be served with anything you like, but I highly recommend serving it with these noodles and vegetables, because it just goes together so well.
Ingredients for the Noodle Bowls
I’m pretty sure you can use whatever steak you like in this dish. You’re cooking it fully through, to the point where it’s charred and blackened, not remotely rare, so the cut doesn’t really matter. I used good quality rump steak in mine, sliced very thinly against the grain.
You can also add whatever veg you like. The cabbage gives it some extra crunch, the pickled cucumber adds flavour and the lime provides a bit of zing. The fried onions/shallots on top are optional, but delicious. You can buy these commercially, which honestly is probably the better option as its hard to recreate them at home. I didn’t have any in, so I fried some up myself, but I recommend buying them in if you can.
The recipe makes extra noodle sauce, so you can keep it in the fridge for the next day’s lunch or for if you want to make this dish again soon. I’ve not tried freezing it but I’m sure it would work fine. If you don’t want extra, I’d say use about 1/3 to 1/2 of the recipe, but it’s up to you.
All in all, I just think you should make these noodle bowls. They’re SO tasty, SO full of flavour and just SO good. You won’t regret it.
Vietnamese Beef Noodle Bowls a.k.a Bún bò xã ớt
For the beef marinade
- 1 lb steak, thinly sliced (I used 2 rump steaks)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½ lemongrass
- ½ red chilli
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ inch ginger
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp oil (any neutral kind)
For the noodle sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- ½ inch ginger
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 cup water
For the noodle bowls
- 4 portions vermicelli noodles
- ¼ english cucumber (if pickling, also 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp sugar)
- ½ cup red or green cabbage (I used about 3 leaves)
- 4 lime wedges
- handful fresh coriander
- handful fresh mint
- 2 shallots (or commercially available fried shallots/onions, ¼ cup)
- Slice your beef into very thin slices, about 3mm or so, against the grain. To make the marinade, finely chop ½ a lemongrass and ½ a chilli. Add them to a pestle and mortar along with 2 garlic cloves and ½ inch ginger. Crush to form a coarse paste. Add to the beef along with 1 tbsp each of fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and oil. Stir to coat the beef, then cover in cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1-24 hours.
- Prepare the rest of your ingredients. If frying your own shallots, thinly slice, and fry in a pan with 3 tbsp oil on medium high heat for 5 minutes or so until crispy. Remove them and leave to drain on some kitchen paper. You can save the oil to use for the beef.
- Pickle the cucumber. Slice it into thin slices, then add to a bowl and coat with the sugar and salt. Leave for 15 minutes, then rinse with cold water.
- While the cucumber sits, roughly chop your cabbage into strips. Finely chop the other ½ lemongrass and fry in a pan until crispy. Then remove it and set aside.
- When ready to eat, cook your noodles according to the package instructions. For me, this was submerging in boiling water for 3 minutes, then draining. Once drained, rinse well with cold water.
- Heat a little oil on medium high, then add the beef slices, spreading out to make sure they don't overlap. Cook, stirring, until well charred - don't worry about overcooking, you want the crispy texture and blackened bits.
- Add your noodles to a bowl, and toss with 3 or 4 tbsp of the noodle sauce. Top with the beef and your prepared vegetbales. Sprinkle on the fried lemongrass and shallots, and tear over some mint and coriander, and chopped fresh chilli if you like.
Method in Pictures
Gather your ingredients
Here are some optional vegetbales to add
Finely chop your lemongrass
Along with your chilli
Add lemongrass, garlic, chilli, sugar and ginger for the marinade to a pestle and mortar
And crush to form a paste
Add to your steak pieces with the fish and oyster sauce and mix. Marinate for at least 1 hour
Make the noodle sauce. Crush the garlic, chilli ginger and sugar to a paste
Stir with the water and fish sauce and set aside in the fridge
Finely slice the shallots
Fry in oil until crispy
Slice the cucumber and cover with the salt and sugar. Leave for 15 minutes
Roughly slice the cabbage
Fry the lemongrass until crispy then remove and set aside
Once pickled, rinse the cucumber under cold water
Cook the noodles according to package instructions, then toss with some of the noodle sauce
Fry the steak on medium high until charred
Add the steak onto the noodles, then add the vegetables on top. Garnish with lime and fresh chilli