Lemongrass beef

Such a simple recipe title, but this dish is packed with spicy flavours and interesting textures that make it a complex and satisfying dish to eat. Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients – it takes only about 20 minutes from start to finish to make.

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Serves 4

2 cloves garlic
1 stalk of lemongrass (white part only), sliced
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sugar
300g beef mince
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
200g rice vermicelli
1 large lime

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water

To serve:
100g bean sprouts
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

In a pestle and mortar pound together the garlic, lemongrass, whole black peppercorns and sugar until they form a rough paste. In a medium sized glass bowl combine the spice mixture, the mince and the fish sauce and set aside. In another medium sized bowl pour boiling water over the rice vermicelli and leave to sit for 5 – 6 minutes, then drain in a colander.  Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Heat a medium sized frying pan over high heat. Add the oil and then fry the mince, breaking up any lumps as it cooks. It will take about 6 – 8 minutes to cook. Pour over the dressing and cook for another couple of minutes. Serve the beef and rice vermicelli with the sprouts and herbs, and wedges of lime on the side.

Wine choice: I’d suggest a Gewurztraminer to drink with this dish, for its slightly sweet notes offset the spicy and peppery flavours in the beef.

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