A Vietnamese Classic with
This is a classic Vietnamese dish which would work well for a special dinner. While there are a number of ingredients and steps in the preparation, it is not actually as formidable to make as it might seem. Total time involved is about 20 minutes advance preparation and another 20 minutes just before serving. The recipe is intended to serve 4 persons, along with other dishes. Recipe adapted from Bach Ngo.
Ingredients like Tomato Paste and Olive Oil add a Fusion note to this dish, as often in Vietnamese cuisine.
For the Beef Platter:
1 pound completely lean Beef Sirloin., Fillet or other tender cut, cut into pieces 2 inches by 1½ by 1/8 inch thick
Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 large ripe Tomato, thinly sliced
For the Sauce:
2 cloves Garlic, one sliced, the other finely minced
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 fresh hot Chili Pepper or green Serrano or red Ancho, seeded and chopped or the dried equivalent
2 ounces boneless Anchovy Fillets2 teaspoons Oil from Anchovies, oe extra Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Nuoc Mam fish sauce
1 small Lime
For the Fondue Broth:
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian Tomato Paste
½ cup White Wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon White Sugar
For the Salad Platter:
2 cups coarsely torn green Lettuce Leaves – not iceberg
1 cup fresh Mint Leaves, separated into single whole leaves
1 cup fresh Coriander (Cilantro) Leaves, separated into single whole leaves
½ Cucumber, peeled lengthwise in alternating strips, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half moons.
1 cup Scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
24 dried Rice Papers (Galettes de Riz) or Whole Wheat Spring Roll Wrappers
First, prepare the Beef Platter: Set out the Beef Slices, slightly overlapping, and grind some fresh Black Pepper over the top. Lay the Tomato Slices in decorative pattern on top. Sprinkle everything with Olive Oil and cover with foil or plastic wrap until serving time.
Next, prepare the Vietnamese sauce: Using a mortar and pestle, blender or food processor, pound and squeeae the sliced garlic to a paste. Work in the Sugar, Hot Chili Pepper, Anchovy Fillets with their Oil, Nuoc Mam sauce and as much Lime Juice as needed to give a fresh taste. Thin the mixture with a few drops of cold water and grind until the sauce has the consistency of thick cream. Transfer to a small bowl. Sprinkle the finely minced Garlic over the top. Cover the sauce and set aside. Do not stir it to mix until just serving ime.
Next prepare the Fondue Broth: Lubricate the bottom of a 1½ quart saucepan with Oil, and place it over a flame.. When the pot and Oil are moderately hot, sprinkle in the minced cloves of Garlic. Do not sauté too hard, after a few seconds, work in the Tomato Paste. Stir in the Vinegar, a little at a time and 2 cups of Water. Heat the broth to a boil quickly. While heating, stir in Sugar until it is dissolved. Transfer to a fondue pan and keep hot, but not bubbling, until just before serving time.
Next lay out the Salad Platter: Plle the Lettuce in a mound in the center of a large platter. On one side, add a pile of Mint. On the other side, a pile of Cilatnro leaves. Arrange the cucumber slices and scallion sticks around the outside the the piles of leaves, alongand along the edges of the platter.
When it is time to serve the fondue: Uncover the broth and set the fondue pot to gentle simmering on the center of the table. Each diner needs a large dinner plate, a shallow palte filled with cold water in which to dip the Rice Paper, a small dipping bowl of sauce and chopsticks or a fondue fork.
The Rice Papers or Spring Roll Wrappers, if they are large, will have been cut in half or cuarters.
To eat the Beef Fondue, picking up a rice paper, dip it for a split second in the sater. Some of the Spring Roll Wrappers, bought in frozen packages, do not need this soaking. They are crispy and eady to eat as soon as they are defrosted.
Place a wrapper on your plate and fill up your package with Lettuce, Cilantro, Cucumber, Mint and Scallions. Using chopsticks or a fondue fork, cook the Beef in the broth until it is done, 4 seconds for rare, 8 seconds for medium and 12 seconds or more for well done.
Put the Beef on top of your pile, hold a Tomato slice in the broth for about 4 seonds and add it ot the pile. Roll up the package in a fairly tight cycliner, turcking inthe ends.
Dip the narrow end of the roll into the Vietnamese Sauce and eat!