Refreshing and unique salad for you to make! This Vietnamese lemongrass beef noodles salad is packed with fresh herbs and veggies, served together with char-grilled lemongrass beef and a healthy douse of tangy umami sauce.
About The Taste & Flavour
We first got a taste of this amazing salad in a Vietnamese restaurant, in Paris. Forever hooked. And I've been trying to replicate the unforgettable flavours at home, since then.
And I'm telling you, this is the best! I'd divide this meal into 4 components, for better explanations:
Grilled meat - Marinated beef with lemongrass, ginger, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and chili. Already sounds great, eh?
Herbs and veggies - Fresh flavours and textures of mint, cilantro, carrot, lettuce and red cabbage.
Sauce - Tangy umami, slightly spicy sauce to douse on everything.
Noodles - Rice vermicelli noodles, plain, to carry all the wonderful flavours from the other components.
What Meat Cut To Use
We want flavourful, tender meat with that amazing char-grilled look. Since I've made this many times using different cuts of meat, here's what I can tell you.
Ribeye - If you can spend some money on it, then this is the best option. It has enough fat marbling in the meat, which will result in tender, grilled meat.
Sirloin - A tad cheaper than ribeye. It has less marbling fat, but it's still great for this.
Chuck - Surprisingly chuck cut works amazing! Buy a huge piece, and slice it yourself at home into thin strips.
PRO TIPS: Always slice meat against the meat grain to ensure tender meat after cooking. The grain of the meat refers to the direction of the muscle fibers in the meat.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Noodles - Preferably thin, round rice vermicelli noodles. Not the flat ones that you use in stir-fry pad Thai recipes, although if you can't find them, it's totally fine also. We want very mild flavour noodles to carry all the other amazing flavours from the meat and sauce.
NOTE: I don't recommend using egg-based noodles as the flavour is too strong for this meal. Use rice-based noodles, or even plain rice itself if you have no other choice.
Herbs & veggies - I love the combo of mint and cilantro for the herbs. If you have to choose between those two, definitely go for the mint. Lots of mints. Use crunchy, colourful, and mild flavoured veggies like carrot, lettuce, and red cabbage for veggies.
Fish sauce - Fish sauce is one of my must-have Asian sauces in our home. It's basically fermented fish with salt. Don't get put off by its name, or smell (haha!) and trust me, it gives this amazing umami flavour.
SUBSTITUTION: Although it's not the same, you could use the same amount of less salt soy sauce instead.
Oyster sauce - Another must-have sauce in our home is oyster sauce. It's a thick sauce made with caramelized oyster juice, sugar, and soy sauce.
SUBSTITUTION: Again, although it's not the same, you could use the same amount of less salt soy sauce instead.
How To Get Char-Grilled Look Using A Pan
Traditionally this dish requires the meat to be fire-grilled. Let's be honest, unless it's a planned weekend where the husband (or wife!) agrees to deal with the whole grilling-with-fire outside, most likely it'll never happen. Right?
Well, here's my secret to having that char-grilled looks by just using a pan, in the kitchen.
Use - A cast iron pan. I've been using this one for years. It's very durable (obviously) and never fails to give me the char-grilled looks as if I've been sweating grilling my chicken, meat, and fish outside on the fire grill. I have a few in different sizes.
How - Heat the cast-iron pan with some oil, on medium-high heat until it's smoking hot. Add in pieces of meat, without overcrowding them. Cook untouched for 3-4 minutes, flip, and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes. You'll get perfect char-grilled looks!
How To Make Lemongrass Beef Salad
- Prepare meat - Slice meat into ¼ inch thick strips of 2-3 inches.
- Make marinade sauce - Pound lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and chili into a paste. Add into a bowl with fish sauce, sugar, oyster sauce and mix well. I've used my food chopper for this also, it's totally fine and doable.
- Marinate meat - Add meat into marinade sauce and mix well. Chill in the fridge, preferably overnight or minimum 2 hours.
- Prepare sauce - Pound ginger, garlic, and chili into a paste. Add into a bowl together with sugar and lime juice. Mix well.
- Prepare veggies and herbs - Slice the veggies and prep the herbs.
- Cook noodles - Cook rice vermicelli noodles in boiling water for a few minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain them.
- Cook meat - Heat some oil in a cast-iron pan on medium heat until it's smoking hot. Add in pieces of marinated meat, without overcrowding them. Cook untouched for a few minutes, flip and continue cooking.
- Assemble - Place some noodles in a bowl, followed by the veggies. Place grilled meat on top, some fried shallots and herbs. Pour some sauce. Mix everything together before taking a bite.
Tips To Make This Recipe
- Marinate the meat for a few hours for amazing flavours. I'd recommend doing it the night before. You'll have less work on the day of.
- The marinade and the sauce are made with the same ingredients (minus lemongrass for the sauce). I'd recommend making the sauce at the same time also, since you have all the same ingredients out anyways.
How To Serve & Store
Serve - I like to serve this buffet-style. This way, each person can just serve themselves. The only way to give justice to this dish is by mixing everything together so that you have a piece of everything in one bite. Very important!
Store - You can store everything in air-tight containers, in the fridge for up to 3 days. I'd not keep them longer than that because the herbs and veggies will look sad by then. You can marinate the meat for up to 3-4 days in advance.
Can I use chicken?
Yes, absolutely! Although, I'd recommend using chicken thigh instead of chicken breast. This will result in char-grilled looks without having the meat dry.
Does fish sauce have strong fishy taste?
Fish sauce is made from fermented fish and salt, so while it's on the salty side but it doesn't have that overwhelming fishy taste. The flavours are more complex than just "fishy" taste. It's earthy, briny and savoury.
Can I just use whatever veggies or herbs?
I'd recommend you to follow the recipe exactly, to get that full experience of this dish. But if you're thinking of switching the veggies up, I'd say go for mild-tasting ones but with crunch to them. As for the herbs, I'd say mint is crucial.
Is the sauce really needed?
Yes! I'm all about the sauce! The sauce is what's going to condiment and gives flavour to the noodles, veggies, and herbs. It also makes the dish not "dry" as you mix everything together with it. Although, like any other sauce, use it sparingly as the flavour is potent.
Is it necessary to use a pestle and mortar for this?
Nope, not at all. I love using my pestle and mortar, it gives me that authentic feeling and makes me enjoy the cooking process more. But when in a rush (like we all are in this world), I've also used my food chopper and it worked amazing!
Watch How To Make It
Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Noodles Salad
Veggies & Herbs
- ¼ red cabbage
- ¼ lettuce
- 1 carrot , julienned
- ¼ cucumber , remove seeds and slice cucumber in julienne
- 1 cup mint leaves
- 1 cup cilantro leaves
- 4 oz dried rice vermicelli noodles (200 g)
- fried shallots
- 1 lime , cut in wedges
- Slice the meat into ¼ inch thick strips of 2-3 inches in length. Set aside.
- Take the white part of the lemongrass, cut into small pieces and put into a mortar. Add in ginger, garlic, and chillies. Pound into a paste. You can also use a food chopper for this.
- Place into a big bowl, together with the rest of the ingredients and sliced meat. Mix well, cover with a cling film and chill in the fridge, preferably overnight (8 hours) or minimum 2 hours.
- Pound ginger, garlic and chili in a mortar, into a paste. Put in a small bowl together with the rest of the ingredients. Squeeze the lime in. Mix well and set aside.
Veggies & Herbs
- Slice all the veggies thinly. Pick the leaves of the herbs. Place in serving containers, set aside.
- Boil rice vermicelli noodles for a few minutes until cooked. Rinse under cold water and drain them. Place on a serving plate, set aside.
- Heat some oil in a cast-iron pan until it's smoking hot. Add in the meat, without overcrowding the pan and cook untouched for 3-4 minutes. Flip and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan into a serving plate. Continue with the rest of the meat.
- Grab a bowl and add in some rice vermicelli noodles. Top with the veggies, followed by grilled meat. Sprinkle the herbs and fried shallots on top. Pour 1-2 tablespoon of sauce (or to your liking). Optional, squeeze in some lime. Mix everything well, every bite has to have all of the components in it. Enjoy!
- The sauce is the bomb! Adjust and use the amount to your liking. You most probably will have around ⅓ of balance. Use as a salad dressing or pour on top of white rice, yum!
- Estimated sodium nutrition fact is calculated excluding the sauce balance.