Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bún Bò - Rice Noodles with Stir Fried Lemongrass Beef

Funny how such a short name can mean so much. When my aunt left a suggestion of Bún Bò, or (Rice Noodle Cow) I wasn't 100% sure what it was until I did a bit of searching around and then my brain went ohhh yeah. 

I found a recipe that involved grilling which looked great, except I don't really have a grill. Despite having a trick to get around grilling, I didn't feel like utilizing it and luckily found a second recipe that stir fries the beef. I ended up doing what I usually do: found multiple recipes, looked at them all,  looked at my ingredients and cooked until something I was happy with appeared. 

I don't remember this too much, I think we tended to have Bún Thịt Nướng more often (which this is fairly similar to!). I know that my Mẹ is going to call me and tell me that I ate it a lot...and ate a lot of it! My only defense is that I've eaten a lot of food in my life and I can't remember them all!

Silly Vietnamese food. You can never see the actual food cause all the toppings cover it!
 Not to mention the lighting in my kitchen is weird.
Bùn Bò

Beef Marinade
- 500g of Flank Steak, (Sirloin or top round beef works too)
- 2 Stalks of Lemongrass
- 2 Green Onions
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 1/2 tbsp of Fish Sauce
- 1 tbsp Oil
- Sprinkle of pepper
- A sprinkle of Chopped Cilantro (I did this on a whim...very optional)

The rest
- 1 onion
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- Vermicelli Rice Noodles (I grew up on the thinnest of the Bùn, but use whichever you like)
- Bean Sprouts
- Cucumber, sliced into little sticks.  
- Lettuce, shredded
- Pickled Shredded Carrots
- Crushed dry roasted unsalted peanuts
- Your favourite aromatic herbs: Cilantro, Thai Basil, Mint
- Mixed Nuoc Mam, of course! Don't remember how to make it? I've got you covered here!

So yes, I love this dish because of its ever so serious relationship with Nuoc Mam. How serious you ask? Really serious, they're thinking of moving in together. 

Start with the marinade: Slice the beef into thing strips. A trick I learned from my Mẹ is to freeze the beef and then you can slice it paper thin. This is especially perfect for Pho Bò but I digress. I didn't have time to freeze it so I just sliced it as thin as I could. Chop up the lemon grass, onions, garlic, and mix it all in a bowl with the beef, fish sauce, oil and pepper. Let it sit for about an hour or overnight if you're nice and prepared, unlike myself. The other recipes proposed using a mortar and pestle to form the lemon grass, garlic and other stuff into a paste. As usual, I have a terrible habit of not closely reading recipes so only noticed this once it was in the fridge. However, when I made Bún Thịt Nướng, it was basically the same marinade so I was kind of on auto-pilot. 

I didn't notice my product placement in these pictures.
Unfortunately, this is the best picture of the bowl of meat.
I prepared all the veggies during this time, not to mention the usual bean sprout picking an hour before I started on the beef. Once the beef was ready, I heated up some oil in a pan, chopped up the onion, extra 3 cloves of garlic and threw them in the pan to sauté for a bit (About a minute). I took the onions and garlic out of the pan, and threw the beef in. There is really no way to describe how good the smell of lemon grass and garlic frying in a pan is. Yum. 

This is also a good time to put a pot of water on to boil for the bùn!

I love the colour of  raw meat.
As the beef was finishing (you don't want to overcook it!), I threw the onions back in. 

Cooked meat is also good.
So, once you've got all the pieces of the puzzle, it's time to put it together to reveal a beautiful scene and the beauty of this puzzle is that there's no right answer (well, there are a few essentials). 

You're going to need a big bowl. 

- Put some bùn in. 
- Put the beef and onion on top of that.
- Pile on the rest of the toppings. (Cucumber, carrots, bean sprouts, lettuce, herbs, peanuts)
- Drench in mixed nuoc mam (which I'm starting to notice a lot of other blogs/recipes calling it Nuoc Cham)

I was quite happy with the way this turned out. The beef was deliciously tender and I love the way the crushed peanuts add a crunchy texture and fantastic flavour to the dish. They go well in so many dishes, it's grood (good + great). This dish also requires next to zero cooking, just a lot of washing, cutting, crushing and all that. 

My wife asked what this was I told her it was bùn and beef as I tend to never give her a straight answer in hopes that she will work her way through a riddle and remember it better because of it (yeah, I know it's annoying but keep reading!). She asked me what beef was and I replied "Bò." She then exclaimed "Is it called Bùn Bò?!" Ah, look at that. I'm sorry, I'm having trouble typing this one-handed whilst I pat myself on the back. Wait, maybe I shouldn't be portraying myself this way in a post that is being submitted to a monthly blogging event? What's this you ask? Well, since you asked...

I recently stumbled across a monthly blogging event, for Vietnamese food lovers, from the blog of Ravenous Couple. It was thought up by Anh of A food lover's journey and together they brought it to life. Each month someone hosts the event on their blog and I'll be submitting this entry for the month of May 2011. This month's host is Jing of My Fusion Kitchen.

I lose myself in a daydream.


  1. Hi Minh,
    Great job on this dish, it looks so delicious, you got this one done perfectly. I was hungry looking at it. Some recipes on the internet called for sesame seed oil which is not correct, glad you didn't put that in. Not sure if it's clear in your directions regarding the order of food preparation, I would do everything first (including cooking the noodle), the stir fry would be the last thing that I do and just transfer it over the prepared bowl.

  2. I used canola oil though, I hope that's okay! I feel like it needs a little to help the marinade stick to the meat, as well as to help it cook better. Is it because of the flavour of sesame oil?

    That is a very good point about the order. I did make the stir fry last, but a little secret I didn't mention was that I finished dinner a little early before Gillian came home, so everything actually sat on the stove for about 45 minutes and went cold.

  3. this salad is very popular in the north! Great recipe!