Bright Beef Noodle Salad with Chilli Lime Dressing


This recipe is based on Vietnamese noodle salads, playing savoury, sweet and sour against one another in every mouthful: first there’s punchy lime juice, then the savoury clout of fish sauce, peanuts and seared beef, next chilli heat and finally the freshness of coriander, basil and mint. It’s deceptively filling for a salad, and a good way of making a little meat go a long way.

I’ve been deliberately vague about the kind of steak to use here, because I don’t want this recipe to get tangled in paranoia about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ meat, and I don’t think there’s any point shelling out for the most expensive steak if it’s going to be cut into strips and tossed through a salad. Just use whatever frying steak (not the tougher casserole or braising steak) you can afford and cook it for as short a time as you can, depending on how rare, or otherwise, you like it.

I quite like the cleansing heat of the chillies, but if you don’t want too much spice, just deseed them.

Serves 4

½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 red chilli, thinly sliced into rounds
2 handfuls of coriander leaves
Handful of basil leaves
Handful of mint leaves
2 medium beef frying steaks, roughly 400g in total
Vegetable oil, to grease the pan
125g flat rice noodles
2 spring onions, cut into long, thin strips
60g roasted salted peanuts

For the dressing:
4 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
3 tablespoons caster sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 red chilli

Gather together and prepare the vegetables and herbs. Fry the steaks in a drop of oil for 2–2½ minutes on each side over a medium heat, or until they are cooked with just a little pink in the middle (of course, cook them more or less according to your tastes, but bear in mind that you’ll have to slice them into strips after cooking, which is more difficult with a rare steak). Set the steaks aside to rest for 5 minutes while you prepare the noodles.

Place the noodles into a heatproof dish or bowl, pour boiling water over them and leave for 3 minutes to rehydrate. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Slice the rested steak into ½–1cm-wide slivers.

For the dressing, whisk together the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar, then crush in the garlic with the chilli (you can very finely chop the garlic and chilli if you don’t have a garlic crusher). Heap the prepared red onion, carrots, chilli, coriander, basil and mint on top of the noodles in a serving dish. Scatter over the beef, spring onions and peanuts, then pour the dressing over the lot. Toss gently together before serving.

  ©Charlotte Bland, 2016

©Charlotte Bland, 2016