Archive for the 'Bun Thit Nuong/Xao' Category

Thịt Bò Xào Hành Tây – Vietnamese Stir-Fried Beef with Onions

Thịt Bò Xào Hành Tây – Vietnamese Stir-Fried Beef with Onions

While The Astronomer desires nothing more than a hunk of grilled lemongrass pork atop his bún (vermicelli rice noodles), I’ve got a soft spot for stir-fried steak, a dinnertime staple at my house growing up. Pork is almost always my protein of choice, but beef gets a slight edge here for its intrinsic juiciness, ease of preparation, and sweet onion companions.  The way the meat’s drippings mingle with the marinade and the nước chấm (Vietnamese dipping sauce) gets me every time. You bet your boots I pick up my bowl and slurp up every last drop.

To ensure that the beef is cooked through and the onions are caramelized evenly, I prefer to prepare this dish in smaller batches. The beef to onion ratio can be altered depending on personal preferences. My family tends to go heavy on the onions, about 1.5 onions for every 1 pound of meat. Any uncooked meat can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and in the freezer for a few months.

While I love thịt bò xào hành tây best served over vermicelli rice noodles with fresh herbs, lettuce, cucumbers, pickled carrots and daikon, toasted peanuts, scallion oil, and ladles of nước chấm, it also tastes stupendous served simply over steamed jasmine rice.

  • 4 pounds flank steak, thinly sliced approximately 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 large shallots, finely minced
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3/4 cup finely minced lemongrass
  • 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus additional for stir frying
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon MSG (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce, plus additional for stir frying
  • 3  tablespoons vegetable oil, plus additional for stir frying
  • 6 medium onions, sliced into “half moons” approximately 1/3 inch thick

Thịt Bò Xào Hành Tây – Vietnamese Stir-Fried Beef with Onions

Combine all ingredients from flank steak through vegetable oil in a large bowl. Using your hands, massage the mixture to make sure that the marinade is evenly distributed and coats every slice of meat. Allow the meat to soak in the marinade overnight or for up to 24 hours.

Thịt Bò Xào Hành Tây – Vietnamese Stir-Fried Beef with Onions

In a large wok or non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add onions along with a light sprinkling of salt, and saute until desired doneness is achieved, about 5 to 10 minutes. Some people may prefer onions with a little bite, but I like mine cooked through and lightly caramelized.

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Noodle Guy – Alhambra

Noodle Guy - Alhambra

Friday night called for something warm and comforting for dinner. It’s been one of the mildest winters in recent memory, but temps hovered in the fifties this evening and storms were rolling in from points north. After assessing the possibilities in and around the neighborhood, The Astronomer and I decided that a short drive to Alhambra for Vietnamese beef noodle soup was the order of the day.

Noodle Guy - Alhambra

Noodle Guy, not to be confused with Noodle King two doors down or Noodle Boy in nearby Rosemead, serves Vietnam’s greatest hits. From broken rice to spring rolls, there’s enough variety here to fill a thick, spiral-bound booklet. However, glancing around the dining room, it seemed that most everyone was burying their faces into a big bowl of pho.

Noodle Guy - Alhambra

Taking a cue from my fellow Noodle Guy-goers, I ordered a bowl of pho bo dac biet. Beneath the heap of chopped cilantro and sliced onions was a bed of rice noodles and a delectable collection of meaty odds and ends including flank, brisket, tendon, and tripe.

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Thịt Nướng – Vietnamese Grilled Pork

Thit Nuong - Vietnamese Grilled Pork

The Astronomer doesn’t care too much for receiving “stuff” on his birthdays, so I gifted him homemade thịt nướng with all the fixings in celebration of his 27th last weekend. Vietnamese grilled pork has been on my lengthy list of things to master for quite some time, so this was the perfect occasion to finally learn how to prepare one of our all-time favorite dishes from scratch.

I employed my aunt Phuong’s recipe for the all-important marinade. Made from an aromatic mix of shallots, garlic, lemongrass, honey, fish sauce, and sesame oil, the marinade mingled with the meat overnight to ensure that every bit of pork was permeated. To pair with the protein, I prepped some scallion oil, pickled carrots and daikon, toasted crushed peanuts, and a jar-full of nước chấm (Vietnamese dipping sauce). Crispy fried shallots were purchased at the local Asian grocery store.

After allowing the meat to marry with the marinade, I fired up the grill, loaded up the “meat cage,” and cooked everything up in several batches. With four pounds of pork to plow through, The Astronomer and I were each treated to half a dozen bowls of bún (vermicelli rice noodles), as well as several loaves of bánh mì for the better part of a week. Thịt nướng is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

  • 4 pounds pork butt or top sirloin, thinly sliced approximately 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 shallots, finely minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup lemongrass, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon MSG (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Thit Nuong - Vietnamese Grilled Pork

Combine all ingredients from shallots through vegetable oil in a large bowl. Add the sliced pork to the bowl. Using your hands, massage the meat and marinade to make sure that the marinade is evenly distributed and coats every slice of meat. Allow the meat to soak in the marinade overnight or for up to 24 hours.

Thit Nuong - Vietnamese Grilled Pork

Traditionally, thịt nướng is cooked on a grill employing a “meat cage.” These devices can be purchased in the housewares section of any well-stocked Chinese or Vietnamese supermarket. If one cannot be located, the pork can be skewered onto bamboo sticks that have been soaked in water for 20 minutes.

If using a meat cage, coat evenly with non-stick spray and layer the pork only one slice deep to ensure even cooking.

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Golden Deli – San Gabriel

Golden Deli is considered to be Los Angeles’ best Vietnamese restaurant by many discerning diners. It’s too early in the game for me to chime in on which Vietnamese eatery I think is the city’s best, but Golden Deli is definitely an all-around solid joint.

In comparison to Cơm Tấm Thuận Kiều and arch-nemesis Vietnam House, Golden Deli has a spiffier and warmer interior. Pleasant ambiance isn’t something I seek out in Vietnamese restaurants, but I appreciate it where it’s found. The people who work here are also really fantastic—I had fun conversing with our waiter in my growing-worse-by-the-day Vietnamese.

My friend Carissa and I dined at Golden Deli on a random weekday for lunch. Even though the space was packed to the rafters, we didn’t have to wait long for a table to open up. We started off our midday Vietnamese banquet with an order of Golden Deli’s famous cha gio ($5.75). According to LA Weekly’s Jonathan Gold, “Golden Deli has the best cha gio, fried Vietnamese spring rolls, in the observable universe.”

The cha gio here are hefty and generously stuffed with ground pork, wood ear mushrooms, glass noodles, and carrots. The plate of greens and herbs served with the rolls was plentiful, and the nuoc cham was just right. There’s no doubt that Golden Deli churns out a tasty cha gio, but like a lot of Vietnamese foods found in these here parts, they’re far too large. As a result of their bulk, oil tends to cling to the wrappers, creating a heavier overall package.

Vietnamese food, even of the deep-fried variety, should always be light and fresh. The title of best cha gio in the observable universe goes to my great aunt Ba Sau—her pinky-sized rolls with perfectly blistered wrappers are unrivaled.

Carissa requested that I order her something fabulous, so I chose one of my all-time faves—com tam bi cha thit nuong trung opla ($7.95). The broken rice platter was comprised of three awesomely delicious and awesomely different pork preparations, along with two fried eggs. Carissa’s favorite was the tender pork loaf. She gave me a taste and I was very impressed—the loaf was steamed to perfection and tasted just like grandma’s.

I ordered a bowl of bun thit nuong chao tom ($6.25)—cool vermicelli rice noodles topped with grilled pork, grilled shrimp paste, crushed peanuts, fried shallots, and scallion oil. Beneath the noodles and meat were a heap of bean sprouts, shredded lettuce, and herbs. The bun thit nuong chao tom was highly enjoyable but would’ve been better if the shrimp paste had been served with its traditional sugarcane skewer. In a city brimming with great Vietnamese eats, it’s the little details that give one restaurant an edge over the others. Show me the sugarcane.

Golden Deli
815 W. Las Tunas Drive
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Phone: 626-308-0803

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