Photograph by Colin Erricson, Copyright 2007.
This recipe comes from my biggest cookbook, 300 Best Stir-Fry Recipes, published by Robert Rose, Inc., 2007. You could cook it in a heavy skillet, a frying pan, or a wok. While stir-fries often need a large, deep pan with room for tossing and turning all the ingredients, this one needs only a medium-sized pan, because only the beef is cooked. We enjoy this with rice as the centerpiece of an Asian style meal, but it goes wonderfully with baked potatoes, quinoa, couscous, or garlic toast.
Vietnamese-Style Shaking Beef with Peppery Watercress
Absolutely gorgeous and delicious, this Vietnamese take on steak is a perfect choice when you want a special dish, which can be prepared in advance and sizzled up just before. A simple salad of watercress and red onions serves as the foundation for tender steak. You could use spinach instead of watercress. If it is very tender, no change is needed. If it is beyond the baby-spinach stage, cook it very briefly in the pan after removing the cooked beef. Then toss it with the dressing and red onions and serve with the beef.
12 ounces thick-cut tender beef steak (rib-eye, New York strip, tri-tip)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion
2 cups very coarsely chopped watercress (bite-sized pieces)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
To prepare the beef, cut the steak into chunks, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. In a bowl, combine fish sauce, soy sauce, ½ tsp sugar, ½ tsp pepper, and ¼ tsp salt and stir well. Add steak and stir to coat well. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine vinegar, 1 tsp oil, and remaining sugar, pepper, and salt. Add onion and toss well to separate into thin strips and mix evenly with dressing. Add watercress but leave it on top of onions and dressing (you will toss it just before serving).
Heat a wok or a large deep skillet over high heat. Add 2 tbsp oil and swirl to coat pan. Add steak mixture and spread into a single Layer. Cook, undisturbed, until nicely browned, for 1 to 2 minutes . Shake pan to turn meat and start browning on other side; use a spatula or slotted spoon if needed
Add garlic, scattering over beef and cook, undisturbed, for 1 minute more. Shake pan again. Cook, shaking, and scooping as needed, until meat is brown and cooked to desired doneness, 1 to 2 minutes more.
Remove pan from heat and set aside while you finish salad. Toss watercress well to dress it and mix with onions. Spread salad on a serving plate. Place beef on top. Serve hot or warm.
Note: If you can’t find watercress, use spinach leaves or a mix of salad greens instead.
Copyright: Nancie McDermott, 2011. All rights reserved.