Herbed Beef and Rice-Noodle Salad

This recipe was a huge hit with the Garden Fairy and her brother. WOW. Me and Dino were huge fans as well. The marinade is super simple, and having it grilled to perfection is key (thanks, Dino!!). We assembled the sauce and salad portion while the meat was on the grill, and it worked out really well. The sauce is really watery, so I drizzled some on each plate and then left the rest in a bowl out on the table. Again, most of the produce was fresh out of the garden, and that definitely helped. We all loved this. The textures are great, and it was fun having noodles on a salad. I'll definitely make this one again.

Herbed Beef and Rice-Noodle
Gourmet September 1993

yield: Serves 8

The combination of herbs, the rice noodles, and the garlicky lime sauce mark this pasta salad as Vietnamese.

For marinating the beef
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce such as nuoc mam* or soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian (toasted) sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds flank steak

For the sauce
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 cup Asian fish sauce such as nuoc mam*
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 pound dried rice-stick noodles* (rice vermicelli)
1 large seedless cucumber, quartered lengthwise, cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
4 cups shredded lettuce, rinsed and spun dry
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup crushed roasted peanuts (use a rolling pin)

*available at Asian markets

Marinate the beef:
In a blender blend together the garlic, the fish sauce, the sesame oil, the sugar, and the salt, in a shallow dish pour the marinade over the steak, turning the steak to coat it well, and let the steak marinate, covered and chilled, for 4 hours or overnight.

Make the sauce:
In the blender blend together the water, the garlic, the fish sauce, the lime juice, the sugar, and the red pepper flakes.

In a large bowl soak the noodles in warm water to cover for 5 minutes and drain them. In a kettle of salted boiling water cook the noodles for 5 minutes and drain them in a colander. Rinse the noodles well under cold water and drain them well.

Grill the steak, discarding the marinade, on an oiled rack set 4 to 5 inches over glowing coals or broil it under a preheated broiler about 3 to 4 inches from the heat for 8 to 10 minutes on each side, or until it is springy to the touch, for medium-rare meat. Transfer the steak to a cutting board, let it stand for 10 minutes, and holding a knife at a 45-degree angle slice it thin.

Divide the cucumber, the lettuce, and the herbs among 8 large plates, mixing them, and mound the noodles over the mixture on each plate. Arrange the steak decoratively over the noodles and sprinkle it with the peanuts. Spoon some of the sauce over each plate and serve the remaining sauce separately.

Big Flavors Rating: 5 Stars

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