Vietnamese Vermicelli Beef Salad

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This is one of my favorite quickie weeknight meals.  The only tedious part is chopping up all the veggies (which I do in a big batch and keep in separate containers so I have enough to last me for lunches later on in the week), but this takes about as long as it does for the beef to brown, so if you do those two things at the same time, you’re golden.

My favorite veggies to use are the following, but any crunchy, colorful vegetable will do:

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • lettuce
  • radishes/daikon
  • fresh herbs: cilantro, mint, Thai basil

Slice up the cucumbers very thin, and shred the carrots and daikon in the Cuisinart to save some time.  Boil some water and pour it over a handful of vermicelli rice noodles in a bowl, let that sit for about 5 minutes, then drain the water and let the noodles cool.

In the meantime, brown 1 pound of ground beef in a skillet, and once the pink is gone but the meat still has some moisture in it, pour in some Le’s Kitchen stir fry sauce, then continue to cook until liquid has evaporated and beef is slightly crispy.

As this is finishing up, make the dressing by whisking the following together in a bowl:

  • 4T brown sugar
  • 3T rice vinegar
  • 4T lime juice
  • 2 pressed garlic cloves
  • 1 inch minced ginger
  • 2 minced chiles (jalapeno, green bird, etc.) or 1T chili paste

To assemble the bowl:

Put a handful of the vermicelli noodles in the bottom of the bowl.  Then, arrange all the veggies in little pods around the circumference.  Put a big spoonful of the beef right in the middle, sprinkle with herbs, fried shallots, and crushed peanuts, and then pour a healthy dose of the dressing over the top.

Thai Beef Salad


Super Simple Ramen

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I added chopped oyster mushrooms, upped the amount of broth and water because this was way too salty (and not enough broth to make the size batch I wanted).  I cooked 2 bundles of soba noodles separately, and spooned the broth over them in the bowls immediately before serving.

For the tofu, I pan-fried thin slices in our blue steel skillet for a few minutes, then put the whole thing in the oven at 400 degrees until the edges started to brown.  Then I spooned the chili sauce (doubled the quantity) over each slice and let it bake a few minutes longer, added to the bowls at the end.

Nuoc Cham for Vermicelli Noodle Bowls

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Assemble a bright and colorful bowl with vermicelli rice noodles, a salty, caramelized protein, the brightest, crunchiest vegetables you have on hand, and this sauce poured over top immediately before eating; then top with crushed peanuts.

  1. Combine 4T brown sugar, 3T rice vinegar, 4T lime juice; stir to dissolve
  2. Add 4T fish sauce, 2 garlic cloves, 1 inch minced ginger, 1 medium chile, 1/2c water
  3. Let sit 15 minutes for flavors to meld

Kung Pao Stir Fry Sauce

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From Bon Appetit’s Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

  1. Mix cornstarch and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl until smooth.
  2. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add 3 garlic cloves and 2T ginger and cook, stirring often, until garlic is golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add 2T chili paste and cook, stirring, until darkened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add 6 dried (crushed) chiles de arbol, 1/2c soy sauce, 3T sugar, 2t rice vinegar, and ½ cup water and bring to a boil
  5. Stir in cornstarch slurry. Simmer, stirring, until sauce coats spoon, about 2 minutes.
  6. Let cool slightly and toss with your stir-fry!