This is a Vietnamese-inspired warm beef salad, with a lot of Lori-isms. It is a delicious and filling entrée salad with so many unique flavors that it produces “happy mouth” syndrome. And that’s a real condition that can result from many causes. This salad just happens to be one of them.
My friend Kim Nguyen first served me a warm beef Vietnamese salad with water cress and tomatoes. Because I loved it so much, I asked for the recipe and she shared it with me. But I can’t always find water cress, and I have eaten various warm beef salads in different Vietnamese restaurants where they used lettuce and other ingredients. Over time, I’ve put together a mishmash of those dishes to create what is now Lori’s Vietnamese Beef Salad.
It may not be horribly authentic, but it is tremendously tasty. It is a favorite of friends and family.
By the way, the dressing is the same as I used in the green mango salad posted in June.
And here are some key tips
I own a couple of mandolin slicers, and they are great when you have to julienne something rather large, or when you have a lot of ingredients to slice up. But when all you need is to julienne a couple of little carrots, this is much easier and faster. It’s called a julienne peeler.
Making julienne ribbons is really recommended. It just will not be a Vietnamese salad if the carrots are chopped.
I like to use romaine lettuce for this salad because it has the perfect combination of the flavorful green leaf and the satisfying crunch of a prominent rib. I find that slicing the leaves about an inch thick makes for it a good fit with the other ingredients.
Mint is optional. I actually usually make this salad without mint. But today, it just sounded like it needed to be there. So I put it there.
I like to use flank steak for this recipe. You can use other cuts, but you want to make sure they will be tender. Flank steak is usually cheaper than a cut like ribeye, and usually leaner, so that is why I like it. But if you use a flank steak, make sure to slice the meat thinly against the grain.
This is the oyster sauce I like to use.
I get this at the Asian market. But there are other brands at your local grocery store that should work if you don’t want to make the effort to a) find an Asian market, b) go to the Asian market, or c) go to any other effort to find this exact brand.
Like the fish sauce I recommended for the dressing, this oyster sauce was recommended by my friend Kim. It has a wonderful flavor and is not too strong.
So let’s get started, shall we?
First, you want to put the salad ingredients together in a large serving dish. I like to serve this salad family style right on the table.
The meat will not take very long to cook, and you want to top the salad with the warm beef very shortly after it is done cooking. So combine the salad ingredients, add the dressing, and toss it to distribute the dressing evenly. Then set it aside and begin cooking the beef.
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of canola oil is all you need if you use a non-stick pan. You don’t want your beef, and therefore your salad, to be swimming in grease.
Stir the meat often to cook quickly and evenly.
Do not add the remaining ingredients until you have cooked off the juices in the pan.
Once the liquid is gone, add the onion and garlic and stir. You don’t want to overcook the onion.
Then add the oyster sauce and stir to distribute completely.
Remove from flame, top the dressed salad, and serve!
What a flavorful and healthy summertime meal option! Let me know if you agree!
Lori's Vietnamese Beef Salad
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 4 cups romaine lettuce sliced 1 inch wide
- 3 small Roma tomatoes sliced
- 2 small carrots julienned
- 3-4 scallions thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup cucumber sliced
- 1/2 cup sweet onion thinly sliced
- fresh cilantro
- fresh mint optional
- FOR THE MEAT:
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon canola oil for frying
- 1 pound flank steak thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup sweet onion chopped small
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- Use this recipe.
- Combine the salad ingredients in a large, family-style serving platter.
- Add cilantro and mint (optional) to taste.
- Dress with the salad dressing and set aside to prepare the beef.
- Heat a non-stick pan to medium high.
- Add the oil, careful to use as little as possible so as not to make the meat topping too greasy.
- Stir-fry the meat until browned and any residual moisture has been cooked off.
- Add the onions and the garlic.
- Cook until just translucent.
- Add the oyster sauce and stir to distribute evenly.
- Remove from flame.
- Pour warm meat mixture over the prepared salad.