It seems nearly everyone whom I follow on Twitter is infatuated with Taste Baguette, the house of the self-professed love affair between French and Vietnamese flavours. I decided to check out what the “hype” was about and to avoid the whole crowds /no seat / possible sold out disappointment, I visited at 11:30. Judging by the crowds that swarmed the cafe soon after I arrived, I am willing to bet that it’s not only the Tweeps who visit the place between 12 and 2. And rightly so.
To be honest, this was not my first visit. I tried to get the pork belly baguette once before, but at 11am it was still roasting. That’s fair enough, since from what I hear it is perfect and really worth the wait. This time though I didn’t feel like cheese – it comes topped with Brie. I wanted the other most talked about option: lemongrass beef. Instead of the baguette, I opted for the lemongrass beef glass noodle salad special. It was a big serving but I just couldn’t resist the next bite of each mouth-watering chunk of fragrant lemongrass mince! From the first bite I knew I had to make this at home.
Now, I think what I’m about to say calls for a new national public holiday, or at least a *dance of joy* from me… It is also a testament to the flavours of this dish, a testament that comes from my harshest
, and sometimes fussiest, food critic: Mr Chipconnoisseur. So, what is it that calls for such pompous introduction and fanfare on my part?
Well, Mr Chipconnoisseur had lemongrass beef leftovers 3 times in a row!!! This is unprecedented – three times! The third time was inside a bread toastie toastie, which if you don’t have a French stick on hand could pass of as a baguette. Besides, baguette is a sensitive word – he broke his tooth on a baguette, so we don’t mention its name around here nor do we buy it unless it’s called French stick, batard or some such thing. Anyway, the hattrick was just so nice to see!
The real credit, though, has to be given to Taste Baguette who invented, or at least popularised, the lemongrass beef combo and who inspired me to make a replica of it for our enjoyment at home. Thank you. I’ll be back.
PS Laura and I have decided to do a little 2 week after Easter detox starting today – nothing too drastic, just eating more sensibly, avoiding additives, take aways, excess sugar, etc. I will be keeping a food diary so you can take a peek at how I’m going.
Lemongrass beef noodle salad
Feel free to serve the beef with vegetables in a buttered baguette or go with the noodle salad if you prefer or are allergic to gluten. The salad is also a great lunch choice if you have somewhere to heat your leftovers up at work. Keep the vegetables plain and simple as you don’t want to overpower the lovely lemongrass flavours of the beef.
It may look like a lot of ingredients but the prep and cooking is quick – no more than 20 minutes for the lot.
- 500g beef mince
- 2 lemongrass stalks
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup peanut // or canola oil
- 1/2 Spanish onion, sliced
- 100g green beans, trimmed
- 3 radishes, julienned
- 1 carrot, julienned
- coriander leaves to serve
- chilli to serve
- crushed or whole peanuts to serve
- 2 cubes of vermicelli noodles
- 2 cups hot chicken stock
Vegetables: prepare all vegetables first.
Noodles: heat 2 cups of chicken stock and cover the noodles in a heatproof bowl. Add plain water if needed. Stand for 4-10 minutes depending on thickness or until noodles are soft on the tooth.
Lemongrass beef: Remove 2 of the outer leaves off the lemongrass. Cut off the hard woody tip and the green stalk, leaving only the whiter part to chop finely. Crush with the back of your knife or in a mortar and pestle to release flavours. Heat oil in a large work until smoking hot. Carefully add mince and break up into medium chunks with a wooden spatula, stir frying. When mostly browned, add lemongrass and stir to heat through. Add fish sauce and stir fry to heat through and for the flavours to blend.
Serve noodles layered with beef, veges and herbs. Sprinkle with crushed or whole peanuts.
Tip: You can also enjoy the mince in a baguette or a toastie.