Nov 2008

Bò Nướng Vĩ – Lemongrass Beef Grilled Tableside

One of my family’s all-time favorite Saturday night suppers is bò nướng vĩ—a Vietnamese version of fondue with an additional DIY element. Tabletop braziers serve as the centerpiece during these special dinners.

With so many aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents in my family, it is impossible to fit everyone into one table. And there’s no way one measly brazier can handle all of our appetites. On this particular evening, we had a table in the family room, another in the dining room and four braziers on full blast to accommodate the hungry masses. Here’s my grandpa tossing some raw onions onto the buttered brazier to get the party started.

The highlight of bò nướng vĩ are thinly sliced pieces of beef marinated with lemongrass and a bit of oil. The oil keeps the meat from sticking to each other and the hot plate.  My family downs mountains of meat like no other.

A lovely plate of ultra-fresh squid and shrimp. The shrimps’ skins, tails and veins are carefully removed beforehand, while the squid is scored and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Once we’ve melted down a knob of butter completely, in come the onions, meat, shrimp and squid. This dish is very communal—it’s not unusual for multiple chopsticks to be in the brazier at once! Eating bò nướng vĩ always reminds me of my cousin Andrew. Growing up, Andrew needed my cousins and I to alert him when a piece of meat was done because he was colorblind, and could not tell. Sometimes we tricked him into eating raw meat. Just kidding!

The butter caramelizes the onions just right and permeates the meat, shrimp and squid. Mmm, boy!

Bò nướng vĩ accouterments include rice paper, fresh lettuce leaves, mint, cucumber spears and most importantly, nuoc mam.

Here’s my grandpa carefully wrapping up the goodness in a sheet of cool rice paper.

Dip, bite, repeat.


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16 thoughts on “Bò Nướng Vĩ – Lemongrass Beef Grilled Tableside

  1. Omigod!!! That looks sooo good! My family used to eat this all the time, but not anymore. 🙁 I especially love the taste and aroma of the bits of lemongrass frying in the butter. *drools*

  2. Ooh, that looks so yummy right now! My family never ate this but we used to eat the kind of fondue with the vinegar-based broth. We would eat it the same way, rolled up, but dip it in some shrimp paste concoction. Maybe after my family gets tired of turkey, we can make some of this over the holidays!

  3. Hi Gastronomy, I’m a long time reader, first time commenter. LOVE LOVE this dish, however having a small family, we never make it at home. I have the biggest craving for it at the moment.

  4. Mmmmmmmmm Cathy! My fams used to eat this when we were all living together in a big family of seven….I thought we were numerous til I heard of your clan 🙂 Maybe I can convince Mommy to whip it up when I go home for Christmas….I’ll be in Oakland in January but unfortunately, not hitting LA just yet!

    You’re keeping it real (yummy) down there tho!

    HI VERNON! (Just went to Lan Anh for the first time and am amazed that VC swam there!)

    muchos smoochos!

  5. BTW Your gramps is adorable and I love how he rolls ’em up on a “ro” and how it’s not as “perfect” as my mom would make me do it! Yay family! (Hope you see ur bro soon :O)

  6. I had something like this in Hue and it included really green unripe starfruit, which was horribly astringent on its own, but quite tasty when wrapped up with beef and lettuce.

  7. Tia – Back in the day did your clothes reek of meat and butter after eating this dish? Mine always does, but it’s totally worth it!

    Tina – The only time when my family eats Bò Nhúng Dấm is at seven courses of beef. Both dishes are awesome.

    Linda – I’m glad this craving-inducing post inspired you to comment 😉 Thanks for introducing yourself and your site!

    CATHY! – Come visit us in L.A.! And if you think my grandpa’s rolling action is imperfect, you gotta see Vern’s—he likes to cram a lot of stuff in there.

    Aariq – It’s totally cool how wrapping up star fruit mellows it out. Am I tooting my own horn when I say the Vietnamese are genius? Well, culinarily speaking, they are!

    xxii – I will ask the fam. Check back!

    ECV – Here’s a virtual napkin for your drool 😉

  8. Hi,

    Can anyone tell me what cut of beef should I buy to make bo nuong vi? Do I need to buy this at an Asian Supermarket or can I get it at a Ralphs or Albertsons? Also, do they cut the meat for you or do you need to do this yourself? Thx

  9. John – The cut you’re looking to buy is called “eye of round.” It’s best to purchase it at an Asian Supermarket, that way they can slice it up nice and thin for you.

  10. I love it, especially when you have close friends over; great idea; I will have for dinner tomorrow; yummy.

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