Thit bo xao hanh tay: stir-fried beef with onions
A favourite takeaway dish, with plenty of onions to give it zing (sorry about the picture, I took it with my phone camera. I swear it tastes *way* better than it looks!).
Aka lazy (wo)man’s recipe. This is a mainstay of Chinese/Vietnamese takeaways in France–there are many, many variants depending on whether you marinade the beef (and what there is in the marinade, which can range from soy sauce to nước mắm), and what you then serve it with. Amusingly, the Vietnamese name of this is thịt bò xào hành tây, literally “beef meat sautéed with Western onions”!
(yes, the pic is slightly scary due to poor lighting. I swear this tastes better than it looks).
As it happened, I had leftover yellow onions from last week’s phở, and extra limes from buying a whole bag. So I marinated in nước chấm 🙂 This would actually be better served with rice vermicelli, but I had leftover egg noodles which needed consuming. See? Frankenstein cooking.
- 300g beef, sliced very thin
- 2-3 yellow onions
- 2 fat garlic cloves, crushed or sliced
- nước chấm, to taste
- 3 spring onions, sliced
- 2 nests egg noodles (or enough for two people)
- toasted sesame oil (optional)
- Put the meat into a bowl, and mix it with 1 clove crushed garlic. Put just enough nước chấm to cover the beef slices). Wait for a bit (I usually leave it half an hour. If you're really patient, you can wait until the marinade turns the beef brown by dint of lime acidity. Haven't worked out a reliable formula for that yet).
- Meanwhile, cook the noodles. The best primer I've found on dealing with egg noodles is over here; I never could follow the instructions, though. Mine always get tangled. So my standard strategy goes something like this: untangle noodles, throw into boiling water, stir around until the water starts to boil again, take casserole off the heat, rinse noodles under cold water, and put noodles back into the pan filled with cold water. So far, so good. Mine still get hopelessly tangled, which is why I cut them into pieces after they've gone cold. Yeah, I know, cheating. But you know, it works.
- Set the noodles aside, and let's tackle the onions. Chop them into small pieces. Fry them in an oiled wok, along with the remaining chopped garlic clove on low-medium heat, until they're suitably soft (basically, until the bad sharp taste goes away). Then turn the heat up, and add the beef and its marinade. Cook for a few minutes, until the beef is cooked through and through. You probably need to add a bit of water at this stage, to keep everything moist in a sort of gravy.
- Drain noodles, add them to the stir-fry, mixing vigorously. When they're cooked to your taste, remove the wok from the heat. Fold in the spring onions, and add a dash of sesame oil if you feel like it (just a small amount, as you don't want the taste of that to overwhelm the marinade).