Bún Bò Xào – Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Beef

Bún Bò Xào - Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Beef

The first three months of the year have been a total whirlwind. Since the last time I checked in, I’ve spent two weeks in Hong Kong, a week and a half in Singapore, and a few days in Thailand. And in the brief in between times back in the US, I left home again for weekend trips to Austin, Nashville, and Montreal. So despite the snowy remnants of the last few March Nor’easters, I’m relishing a few quiet weeks at home. I’m planning the garden and reading and cooking and just generally doing the small things that make me happiest. And it means I have the chance to blog for the first time since January!

Bún Bò Xào - Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Beef

Bún Bò Xào - Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Beef

Generally, I quite like the food in Asia. Particularly so in Hong Kong and Singapore, where you can find pretty much any type of food you want. It helps that Hong Kongers and Singaporeans are obsessed with food so everything meets a minimum standard of good. But after two weeks on the road, lots of Chinese and Thai and room-service gets heavy. When I hit that point, I turn to Vietnamese for brightness and fresh vegetables. Compared to the cuisines of neighboring countries, Vietnamese food is light and refreshing. Lots of mint, basil, cilantro, and pickled vegetables bring a greenness that I really crave when traveling.

Bún Bò Xào - Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Beef

One of my go-to orders is bún, a rice noodle salad with several options for customization. I like it best with grilled lemongrass beef and a mass of pickled carrots. After my last trip I attempted making it at home, and it was surprisingly easy to make a convincing replica of my favorite restaurant versions. I love the slightly floral sweetness that the lemongrass lends to the beef, and the contrast the hot beef provides to the cool noodles and vegetables. Bún is good pretty much any time of year, but it’s particularly refreshing when the weather is hot and swampy. So, why make it in March? Brightness. I realize we’re pretty far from days that qualify as “hot,” but I’m so, so ready to eat bright-tasting things in March. This fits the bill perfectly!

Bún Bò Xào - Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Beef

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Bún Bò Xào – Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Beef

Bún Bò Xào - Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Beef

A quick and refreshing Vietnamese rice noodle salad named Bún Bò Xào. Stir-fried lemongrass beef, pickled carrots, and sweet-salty nuoc cham sauce bring tons of flavor to this bright dinner.

Adapted from Vietnamese Home Cooking.

  • Author: Katie at the Kitchen Door
  • Yield: 4

Ingredients

For the Lemongrass Beef:

  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 TBS sesame oil
  • 2 TBS canola oil
  • 1 lb thinly sliced flank steak

For the pickled carrots:

  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 whole star anise

For the nuoc cham:

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 3 TBS sugar
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 3 TBS white vinegar
  • 1 Thai chile, stemmed and finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

For the bowls and assembly:

  • 10 oz. dried rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 TBS canola oil
  • One bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked off and washed
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, toasted in a dry pan for 3-4 minutes

Instructions

  1. To make the beef marinade: Remove and discard the outer layer of each piece of lemongrass. Trim about 3-inches of the dry, stick-like part of the lemongrass from the top so that you are left with the plumper, white interior. Slice this interior into small coins, and then finely chop those coins until evenly minced. Place minced lemongrass in a medium bowl. Peel and mince the garlic and add to the bowl with the lemongrass. Add the sugar, salt, soy sauce, sesame oil and canola oil to the bowl and stir to combine. Add the sliced flank steak and stir to coat with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  2. To make the pickled carrots: Use a julienne peeler to shred the carrots into long, noodle-like strips. If you don’t have a julienne peeler, carefully chop the carrots into long, thin match-sticks. Place the carrots in a heatproof bowl. Add the vinegar, sugar, water, and star anise to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer just for 30 seconds, then pour the hot liquid over the carrots. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use, at least an hour. Discard the star anise before serving.
  3. To make the nuoc cham: Place all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
  4. To finish and assemble the bowls: Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse.
  5. Just before serving, cook the beef. Heat the canola oil in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the marinated beef to the pan in batches (each batch of beef should easily fit in the pan in a single layer). Cook the beef for 1-2 minutes on each side, until deeply caramelized on the outside but just tender in the center. Remove to a plate and continue until you have cooked all the beef.
  6. To serve, fill each bowl halfway with rice noodles. Top with a quarter of the pickled carrots, several pieces of the cooked beef, a small handful of fresh mint leaves, and 2 tablespoons of chopped peanuts. Serve the bowls with the nuoc cham sauce on the side, so that each person can dress their bowl according to taste.

Notes

If you pickle the carrots at the same time that you marinate the beef, this will only take about 20 minutes to finish up before serving.

 

Classic Red Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs

Classic Red Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

It’s one of those gray December days that makes me feel like cozying up on the couch with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. I know that it’s too warm for snow, but it looks like it could start flurrying any minute. It’s early enough in the season that I don’t mind. It still feels festive to stay inside by the Christmas tree, or even to bundle up and walk through the neighborhood at dusk, looking at everyone’s lights (and, let’s be real, the plethora of horribly tacky but also endearing Christmas inflatables in our neighborhood).

Classic Red Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Classic Red Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

It’s also the perfect sort of day for slow cooking. It will be dark by 4pm, at which point we’ll start thinking about dinner and wonder what we have that we can pop in the oven. That’s what this short rib recipe is for. It’s for days when you have hours to while away indoors, when you crave something rich and tender, when you want an excuse to open a nice bottle of red wine before 5. This is your excuse – you’ll need a cup or two of wine to braise the short ribs. This is also your excuse to stay put while the short ribs roast, filling your house with the savory scent of beef slumping into red wine.

These short ribs are classic but wonderful. If you do a little research, you’ll find that most short rib recipes out in the world are fairly similar, with only minor tweaks in the order of operations and a secret ingredient here or there. You could argue that this means the recipe is ripe for innovation, or you could just take what’s been tried and tested by the world’s greatest chefs and go with it. This version is most closely inspired by Sunday Suppers at Lucques, my favorite cookbook. I go through periods when I can’t seem to cook from any other book, as I’ve mentioned before. It also takes a few cues from this Daniel recipe. Whichever recipe you use, the tricks I’ve picked up for great short ribs are as follows. One, season generously.  Two, brown until caramelized, not just grayish-brown. Three, set aside at least 3 hours cooking time and don’t be tempted to take the ribs out before they are super tender. Four, refrigerate overnight before serving in order to skim and discard as much fat as you can.

Classic Red Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

I had originally planned on doing a follow-up post as well – a short rib grilled cheese sandwich. They offer a similar sandwich, on rich challah bread, at Tatte. We made the sandwiches but, shockingly, they were too rich for me. It turned out I had met my match when it comes to how much richness you can squeeze into one bite. So I’ll save the short rib grilled cheese for another day, when I’ve cracked that recipe. For now, I hope these delicious red wine-braised beef short ribs will warm up your kitchen this winter.

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More winter braises…

Tunisian Lamb-and-Eggplant Stew with Farro and Harissa

Braised Lamb Shanks with Blue Cheese Polenta

French Beef Stew with Red Wine

French Beef Stew with Red Wine

Classic Red Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

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Classic Red Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs

Classic Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Classic beef short ribs, braised in red wine for hours until meltingly tender. Best served over creamy mashed potatoes, potato gnocchi, or buttered egg noodles.

Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques and Daniel (via Serious Eats)

  • Author: Katie at the Kitchen Door

Ingredients

  • 4 bone-in short ribs, about 10-12 oz each (3 lbs. total)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 TBS fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cups full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1/2 cup port wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 3 TBS saba or aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
  2. Pat the short ribs day and sprinkle the pepper, sea salt, and thyme leaves on top of them. Rub the seasoning in to fully coat the short ribs on all sides. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or medium heat, then add the short ribs to the pan (do this in batches if they don’t fit in a single layer). Brown the short ribs on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side, until a nice, caramelized brown crust has formed on the exterior of the ribs. Remove the browned short ribs to a plate.
  3. Drain the rendered fat from the pan, reserving only 1 TBS of fat in the pan. Return the pan to the heat and lower the heat to medium-low. Add the chopped onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pan. Saute until the vegetables are tender and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the red wine and port wine to the pan with the vegetables. Bring to a simmer and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer the wine until it has reduce by one third, which should take 5-8 minutes.
  5. Add the beef broth to the reduce wine and stir to combine, then place the short ribs back in the pan. They should fit snugly in the pan and be just barely covered by the liquid. Cover with a lid and transfer to the preheated oven. Roast the short ribs for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, checking every 30-45 minutes and turning the ribs over in the pan at least once. When finished, the ribs should be completely tender, such that you can easily pull the meat apart with a fork. Remove them from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. For best results, cover and transfer them to the fridge overnight before serving.
  6. When ready to serve, remove the ribs from the fridge. Skim off and discard the hard white fat on top of the dish (there will likely be a lot of this). Preheat the oven to 400F, and return the ribs, uncovered, to the oven for 15-20 minutes – this is to both reheat the ribs and to gently brown the exterior. Before serving, ladle the sauce and vegetables out of the pan and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Discard the vegetables. Serve the ribs on mashed potatoes, gnocchi, or buttered egg noodles, topped with the strained sauce.

Korean-Inspired Dinner: Red Bean Paste Filled Sesame Cookies

Red Bean Paste filled Sesame Cookies {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Mandu {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

I’ve been working with La Crema for a while now, and we recently seem to have found a groove in a series of internationally-themed dinners to pair with their Chardonnays, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noirs. In July we did an al fresco Italian seafood feast, for Labor Day we had a Greek-American cook-out, and now, as the weather turns colder, we’re looking to the other side of the world to find the inspiration for this Korean-inspired dinner. I say Korean-inspired because, well, I’m not Korean, and I’ve never even been to Korea, and I don’t want to call these recipes something they are not. Because they are definitely not traditional, authentically-prepared Korean recipes, the kind of recipe that gets passed down from generation to generation and takes a lifetime to learn. What they are are a collection of delicious recipes that attempt to incorporate some of the influences and flavors of Korean cooking into the way I cook and eat at home.

Autumn Bibimbap with Gochujang-Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Tamari Portobellos {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Red Bean Paste filled Sesame Cookies {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to the food! The appetizer here is Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Mandu, Korea’s stuffed dumpling. Trevor walked in the door just as I was frying these up. “You’re just in time,” I told him, and he grabbed one (one of the ugly ones that I would let him eat before photos) straight from the frying pan. He bit into one and sort of grunted appreciatively before I said “they’re vegetarian.” At which point he looked at me with a mixture of anger and confusion, so upset because he didn’t even notice they were vegetarian. (Also when we eat vegetarian food without me telling him in advance he feels like I’m tricking him.) Because lentils and mushrooms and cabbage can taste as good as ground pork when wrapped up in a dumpling and fried. Not that I have anything against pork, I just love being able to create vegetarian food that’s as satisfying as meat. You can find the Mandu recipe here on the La Crema blog.

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September Fitness Goals: #DailyBowlChallenge // Steak and Elote Corn Bowl

Steak and Elote Corn Bowl {Katie at the Kitchen Door]

It’s hard to believe it’s already September. Even when you’re not a student and/or don’t have school-age kids, September still has that back-to-school feeling, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s just ingrained in us to start buying jeans and sweaters and new notebooks once September hits. Or maybe that’s mass marketing at it’s finest. Either way, September always feels like a little bit of a new start.

So, since I’m feeling the September-vibe as much as I did as an eager high school freshman, and since I have the luxury of being at home for a few more weeks, I’m launching a little health challenge here and on Instagram for the next few weeks. Every day I’ll be eating (and sharing!) some form of “bowl food,” whether it’s a smoothie bowl topped with fruit and coconut or a full-on meat+grain+veg combo like this one.

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Sunday Dinner // Herb-Crusted Roast Beef, Roasted Root Vegetable Salad, Cauliflower and Horseradish Gratin

Sunday Dinner: Rosemary-and-Sage-Crusted Roast Beef {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Friends! It’s my 7th Sunday Dinner post! This is a series I started two-and-a-half years ago to force myself to slow down and make a meal worth savoring every once in a while, the kind of seasonal, made-with-love food that deserves to be enjoyed while sitting at the table, engaging in conversation, and enjoying a nice bottle of wine. It’s something I don’t do as often as I’d like, as indicated by the fact that I only manage to put together one of these posts every 5 or 6 months. But when I do take the time to put together a real, wholesome meal – and to share it here with you – it’s always worth the effort.

Sunday Dinner: Rosemary-and-Sage-Crusted Roast Beef, Cauliflower Gratin, Root Vegetable Salad {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

This Sunday Dinner – which consists of a Rosemary-and-Sage-Crusted Roast Beef, a cinnamon-and-ginger-spiced Roasted Root Vegetable Salad, and Cauliflower Gratin – is the first (hopefully the first of many) that I’ve made in our new house. Although the kitchen and dining rooms are not yet the cozy, functional spaces we hope they will be one day, we’re making them work for us. And if you want to enjoy a Sunday Roast Beef like this in front of the Patriots game, in the much-cozier living room – I say it still counts.

Sunday Dinner: Rosemary-and-Sage-Crusted Roast Beef {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Sunday Dinner: Rosemary-and-Sage-Crusted Roast Beef, Cauliflower Gratin, Root Vegetable Salad {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

This meal is not nearly as extravagant as some of my past dinners (I’m looking at you 4-course Valentine’s Day dinner) – there was no dessert, and no special cocktail to go with it. But what it lacks in elegance, it more than makes up for with flavor and ease – it’s the kind of meal that you could easily make and serve at a small family gathering or holiday event without needing to spend 8 hours in the kitchen preparing or 3 hours after dinner cleaning-up.

The star of this meal was the roast beef, cooked to a perfect, juicy pink if I do say so myself. The cut we used was called a “spoon roast,” something we had picked up on sale at Wholefoods on a whim. I did a lot of research on how to properly cook a low fat cut of meat like this, and found that the consensus was to dress it simply, sear it off, then roast it at a very low temperature until medium rare. As I was prepping the roast, Trevor told me that the new thing in food science is to sear beef after it’s been cooked, and since I trust him, that’s what we did – and it came out really beautifully. Served alongside the two veggie-heavy sides and a nice bottle of wine, it was just the thing for a casual December afternoon at home.

Sunday Dinner: Rosemary-and-Sage-Crusted Roast Beef {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Sunday Dinner: Rosemary-and-Sage-Crusted Roast Beef, Cauliflower Gratin, Root Vegetable Salad {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

The Menu
Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Pomegranate (recipe below, inspired by A Change of Appetite)
Herb-Crusted Roast Beef (recipe below)
Cauliflower and Horseradish Gratin (recipe below, adapted from Bon Appetit)

Past Sunday Dinners:

May 26, 2013: Coffee-and-Chile Rubbed Strip Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce; Charred and Smoky Belgian Endives; Oven-Roasted Potatoes; Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream

July 1, 2013: Strawberry-Lime Agua Fresca; Smashed Pea, Dill, and Feta Crostini; Chilled Asparagus Soup with Meyer Lemon Yogurt; Mustard Spaetzle with Mushrooms; Ricotta Bavarese with Red-Wine Poached Rhubarb

October 28, 2013: Braised Lamb Shanks with Gremolata; Creamy Polenta with Fresh Corn and Blue Cheese; Roasted Brussels Sprouts; Classic Apple Pie

March 31, 2014: Fried Halloumi with Spring Veggies and Strawberry-Basil Gastrique; French Gnocchi with Watercress Sauce; Strawberry-Rhubarb Meringue Pots

August 31, 2014: Roasted Garlic, Ricotta, and Maple-Roasted Cherry Tomato Crostini; Eggplant and Pesto Napoleons; Maple Mixed-Berry Pie

February 15, 2015: Blood Orange Mimosa; Endive and Blood Orange Salad; Chanterelle and Chestnut Bisque; Coffee-Crusted Duck Breast with Brandy-Balsamic Sauce; Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake

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Sunday Dinner: Rosemary-and-Sage-Crusted Roast Beef, Cauliflower Gratin, Root Vegetable Salad {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Pomegranate

Adapted loosely from A Change of Appetite. Serves 4.

  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 oz. fresh baby spinach
  • seeds from 1 large pomegranate
  • 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the cubed vegetables on a large rimmed baking sheet in an equal layer. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne. Drizzle over the vegetables, using a spatula to fully coat them with the spice mixture. Season generously with sea salt and black pepper. Roast until tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. To assemble the salads, divide the spinach between 4 plates. Top with a generous helping of the roasted vegetables, pomegranate seeds, and crumbled feta cheese. In a small bowl, whisk together pomegranate molasses, mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then spoon over the salads.

Sunday Dinner: Rosemary-and-Sage-Crusted Roast Beef {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Herb-Crusted Roast Beef

Serves 4-6.

  • 3 TBS minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 TBS minced fresh sage leaves
  • 1 TBS fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 TBS kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 c. + 2 TBS olive oil, divided
  • One 2 to 3 lb. spoon roast (top sirloin roast)
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together minced rosemary, sage, thyme, salt, black pepper, minced garlic and 1/3 cup olive oil. Use your hands to rub the herb mixture all over the spoon roast. Let the roast sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes to absorb the flavors of the herbs.
  2. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Place the roast on a roasting rack in a roasting dish. Cook the roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast registers 130°F, for a medium rare roast. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of your roast – budget at least 30 minutes per pound, potentially longer. For a 2 pound roast, start checking the temperature after one hour. Once the internal temperature has reached 130°F, remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. After the beef has rested, heat the remaining 1 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the beef and sear until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the beef, let rest for 5 minutes longer, then slice against the grave and serve.

Cauliflower and Horseradish Gratin

Adapted from Bon Appetit. Serves 4-6 as a side.

  • 1/2 a large head of cauliflower, cut into florets (3-4 cups florets)
  • 3 TBS butter, divided
  • 2 TBS flour
  • 1 1/4 c. whole milk
  • 3 TBS horseradish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 oz. fontina cheese, grated
  • 2 c. fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 TBS mustard
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the cauliflower florets in a microwave and oven proof 1.5 quart casserole dish. Add 2 TBS of water to the bottom of the baking dish and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Microwave until cauliflower is tender, about 3 minutes (check after each minute by poking cauliflower with a fork). Carefully remove plastic wrap and drain water from pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt 2 TBS of the butter. Add the flour and stir to form a thick paste, then cook for 1-2 minutes, until flour smells nutty. Slowly drizzle in the milk, whisking the flour-butter mixture as you do so to incorporate the milk. Once you have added all the milk, continue cooking until sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, which should take about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in horseradish sauce, nutmeg, and half of the fontina cheese. Stir until cheese is melted, then pour the sauce over the steamed cauliflower and stir to coat. Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese on top of the cauliflower.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 TBS of butter in a frying pan. Add the breadcrumbs and toast, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard and sprinkle on top of the cauliflower.
  4. Bake the casserole until crumbs are toasted and cheese is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.