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
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