Yield: Serves 4
San Francisco Chronicle’s Top Recipe 1999
This dish from Mai Pham makes a great appetizer and, with a bowl of steamed rice, a satisfying entree as well. It gets its unique flavor from a pungent dressing of lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, chile and garlic. Quickly sauteed strips of beef and chunks of pineapple to help balance the flavors, and peppery watercress, sweet butter lettuce and red onion complete the recipe. Pham began writing for the Food section in 1997. She is a Sacramento restaurateur and the author of “Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table” and “The Best of Vietnamese & Thai Cooking.”
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon freshly minced chile (any variety)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 cups watercress, torn into bite-size sprigs
- 2 cups butter lettuce, or other lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 pound beef sirloin or flank steak, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
- 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh pineapple chunks, in 1/8-inch-thick bite-size pieces
- 20 fresh Asian basil leaves, cut in half
- To prepare the dressing: Combine all ingredients; set aside. Gently combine all salad ingredients and arrange on a platter.
- To prepare the beef: Combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce and beef in a medium bowl and toss to coat the meat evenly. Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry quickly until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the beef and quickly stir-fry it until just charred on the edges, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add to the bowl with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the pineapple and Asian basil to the beef mixture. Arrange the beef mixture and all its juices on the watercress and serve immediately.