It was so much fun cooking this dish on the streets of Saigon in District 1. Every time I walk past Hai Ba Trung Street, I always look out for Tuan, the street vendor who kindly let me borrow his cart to cook this dish. He is there every night without fail, and always with a great big smile on his face
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lemongrass stem, white part only, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 chillies, finely diced, plus extra to garnish
300 g (101/ 2 oz) lean beef sirloin, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
15 betel leaves, roughly sliced
coriander (cilantro) sprigs, to garnish
1 Add the oil and lemongrass to a smoking-hot frying pan or wok. Cook for 5-10 seconds, or until fragrant, then add the garlic and chilli.
2 Now add the beef and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Season with the fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar, add the betel leaves and stir-fry for a further minute.
3 Transfer to a plate and garnish with the coriander and extra chilli. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
When dicing lemongrass, always use a sharp heavy knife.
Don’t discard the green tips of a lemongrass stem — steep them in hot water and enjoy as lemongrass tea
Travel through Vietnam with celebrity chef Luke Nguyen’s lavish new book, The Food Of Vietnam. The location and food photography is sublime, and showcases Luke’s foodie adventures through this beautiful part of Asia. Luke serves up classic Vietnamese dishes plus his twists on traditional recipes. You will want to cook everything in this book, it’s not to be missed. Reviewed by Anne Marie Cummins Images and recipes extracted from The Food of Vietnam by Luke Nguyen published by Hardie Grant $69.95 available in stores nationally.