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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bun Bo Xao (Beef Noodle)

While looking at my plate, I thought to myself...THIS is a Happy Meal.  How we came to imagine tiny crappy burgers as happy meals is beyond me.  Marketing has really destroyed the world through Pavlovian techniques, and though I never eat at those low end fast food places, the words "happy meal" still bring that nasty food image to my mind.  If we were to start over, a Happy Meal would be something that makes you happy just knowing you are going to eat it, extremely happy while eating it, and most importantly, no regrets happy when you're finished, with no side effects a few hours later.  THAT should be the definition of a real Happy Meal, and this Bo Bun is exactly that meal.  It is a perfect mix of hot, warm, cold, crunchy, chewy, salty, sweet, sour, meaty, light, and fresh.  When first served, it's like a music festival in your plate.  Each element nestles comfortably in its place, waiting for the music to start.  To enjoy, the best is to toss everything together so that you have equal amounts of pleasure in every bite.
I've made a similar version before with shrimp and sweet potato noodles (Bun Tom), but this is the real version, with no substitutes.  The original Bo Bun.
The longest part of this meal (not counting the egg rolls) is chopping all the vegetables and herbs.  The rest is just assembly and clean up with a quick last minute stir fry.  It's actually pretty simple if you have a bit of organizational skills.
Serves 3
Ingredients
350g steak, sliced thinly (about 1 steak per person)
1 small onion, sliced
6 hot Cha Gio/Nems/Egg Rolls, cut into chunks (2 per person)
300g rice noodles, cooked, rinsed, and cooled
1 Tbsp oil
Marinade:
3 tsp nuoc nam (fish sauce)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh lemongrass
1/4 tsp turmeric
Nuoc Mam Cham sauce:
3 Tbsp nuoc nam (fish sauce)
4 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp mirin
2 cloves garlic, grated
juice from 1 lemon
1 thai chili, chopped
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp chopped fresh lemongrass
Fresh Toppings:
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 cucumber, julienned
handful mung bean sprouts
handful chopped romaine or batavia leaves
Herb Toppings:
handful chopped basil
handful chopped cilantro
handful chopped mint
handful chopped scallions
Crunchy Toppings:
handful crushed peanuts
handful fried shallots
Directions
1.  Mix the marinade ingredients together and rub into the sliced beef.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I let mine sit overnight.
2.  Heat the 1 Tbsp oil in a wok and sautée the sliced onions until tender.  Add the marinated beef and stir fry for a few minutes.  This and the egg rolls will be the hot part.
3.  Make the Nuac Mam Cham sauce by stirring all the ingredients together.  Set aside.
4.  Now for the fun part.  Assembly.  Get your serving dishes ready and place the noodles in first.
Then arrange the hot ingredients, the cooked beef and the egg rolls,
then add the fresh toppings, the bean sprouts, carrots, cucumber, and romaine leaves,
then add the herbal toppings, the scallions, cilantro, basil, and mint,
Then add the crunchy toppings, the crushed peanuts and fried shallots, and pour a few tablespoons of the sauce over it all...
then take a deep breath while observing the beauty before mixing it all together with your chopsticks so the bits of flavor are evenly distributed.
Then realize it is equally beautiful, though less tidy.  Breath in the fresh scents of the different herbs and the lemongrass from the beef...
.. and enjoy.

Now.. isn't this a REAL Happy Meal?

*Gluten free if egg rolls made with rice paper.
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1 comment:

  1. What a great idea of meals ...

    ReplyDelete