Shaking Beef on Watermelon and Watercress Salad
Chef Mai Pham
Star Ginger and Lemon Grass Kitchen
Chef Mai Pham runs two restaurants in Northern California and has launched a line of frozen Vietnamese meals. This recipe is inspired by the classic dish, bo luc lac, and showcases the love of contrasts in the Vietnamese kitchen. Beef shaken in a fiery hot pan and served over cool watercress with crunchy watermelon illustrates contrasts in texture, temperature and flavor. A drizzle of citrusy, gingery fish sauce brings all the flavors forward and together in perfect balance.
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice wine
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/3 lb. steak (NY strip or other tender cut), cut into cubes
4 tbsp. lime juice
3 tbsp. fish sauce
3 tbsp. water
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp. seeded and minced Thai chilies
2 tsp. minced garlic
4 cups watercress
2 cups baby lettuce leaves (green, red or oak)
2 cups red seedless watermelon, cut into bite-size triangle slices (about ¼-in. thick)
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup red onions, cut lengthwise into ¼-in. slices
1½ tbsp. minced garlic
1. For beef, in mixing bowl, combine oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar and cornstarch; stir well. Add beef and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
2. For dressing: In bowl or covered container, combine lime juice, fish sauce, water, sugar, ginger, chilies and 2 teaspoons garlic; mix or shake well until well blended. Stir and set aside.
3. For salad, in large bowl, combine watercress, baby lettuces and watermelon; gently toss to mix.
4. Over high heat, heat 12-inch saute pan or wok. Add canola oil, red onions and 1½ tablespoons garlic; stir 20 seconds until fragrant. Add beef; allow to sear mostly undisturbed for about 10 to 20 seconds before flipping over. This helps to brown the surfaces. Cook just until medium.
5. Remove pan from heat. Into each of four shallow bowls or plates, divide salad mix. Top with beef, along with onions and juices. Drizzle about 1½ tablespoons dressing on each serving; serve remaining dressing on the side.
Photo courtesy of National Watermelon Promotion Board