Beef Rice Paper Rolls (Instant Rice Paper Sheets)
Moderate - You'll be right
Succulent and tender pieces of beef, enhanced with aromatic Vietnamese flavours and served in rice paper sheets with a selection of herbs and one of Vietnam’s punchiest dipping sauce.
There are many popular Vietnamese beef dishes such as pho bo (beef noodle soup), bo kho (Vietnamese beef stew) and bo luc lac (Vietnamese shaking beef) that are found North, Central and South Vietnam. This cold roll or rice paper roll recipe originates from central Vietnam and is characterised by their communal-style dining. Thinly sliced beef is cooked with butter on a hot plate placed in the middle of the table, with each family member cooking and wrapping their rice paper rolls as they go.
I was not introduced to this style until my early 20s through my mother-in-law. With my family being from the South, it was a regional dish that was not often served in our household. After my first exposure to these easy rice paper rolls, it was the punchy but balanced flavours of the mam nem (pineapple anchovy sauce) and the interactive style of making your own instant rice paper rolls that stuck.
To obtain the perfect balance in your anchovy sauce, it’s important to cook two ingredients down: the fresh pineapple to enhance it’s natural sweetness and the fermented anchovy sauce to remove its natural brininess. However, if you find the anchovy sauce overpowering, I have found a way to make a sauce with similar levels of umami and flavour by substituting anchovy sauce with anchovy salt.
For the ultimate textural experience, serve this dish with fresh and crisp vegetables, thin slices of juicy pineapples and opt for banh trang sieu mong (instant rice paper sheets). If you find it hard to source instant rice paper sheets, substitute with standard rice paper sheets that require dipping in water.
If you love the freshness and vibrancy of rice paper rolls, do yourself a favour and grab some instant rice paper sheets to give this delicious central Vietnamese recipe a go and experience memorable traditional Vietnamese flavours.
Vietnamese stir fry beef:
2 scotch fillets/porterhouse/rump steaks (250-300g each), sliced into thin strips
1 teaspoon anchovy salt or sea salt
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
125g unsalted butter
4 Thai shallots or 1 brown onion, sliced thick
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Handful of peanuts, crushed
Vietnamese pineapple anchovy sauce:
4 tablespoons oil
3 Thai shallots or 1 small brown onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 birds eye chill, finely minced (optimal)
3 tablespoons fermented anchovies or 2 teaspoon anchovy salt
½ pineapple, peeled and diced small or blitzed
3 tablespoons sugar
60g instant rice paper sheets or standard rice paper sheets
½ pineapple, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
2 lebanese cucumber, cut into medium batons
1 bunch mint
1 bunch Vietnamese perilla (optional)
1 bunch coriander (optional)
1 bunch Vietnamese fish herbs (optional)
2 baby cos lettuce or ½ iceberg lettuce
How to stir fry beef:
1. In a large mixing bowl, marinate beef with anchovy salt, sea salt, sugar, oyster sauce and sesame oil. Set aside for 15 minutes to marinate or for best results, overnight in the fridge.
Duncan’s tip: To save time, you can get started on making the Vietnamese pineapple anchovy sauce.
2. In a large fry pan add butter, Thai shallots and garlic, and cook on medium until fragrant and butter is foamy. Add beef and fry on high until beef is just cooked through or to your liking.
3. Remove and garnish with crushed peanuts
Duncan’s tip: Cook beef to your desired liking, I recommend medium for this dish.
How to make Vietnamese pineapple anchovy sauce:
1. In a small saucepan on medium heat, add oil, Thai shallots, garlic and chilli and cook until lightly golden or fragrant then add fermented anchovies, pineapple and sugar and bring to the boil then cook on low-medium for 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and allow to cool, slightly before serving.
How to boil rice noodles:
1. In a medium pot of water, add ½ tablespoon of salt to the boil then add thin rice vermicelli and boil on high for 7-8 minutes. Once cooked, strain and pour into a large bowl of cold water.
2. Portion into small serving sized bundles and immediately drain into a colander to prevent noodles from sticking together.
Enjoy with instant rice paper sheets:
1. On an instant rice paper sheet add lettuce, a piece of pineapple, cucumber, a combination of Vietnamese herbs and stir fry beef. Leaving the ends open, gently but firmly roll the rice paper roll to form a large cigar. Generously dip in the anchovy sauce and savour each bite:
Duncan’s tip: Instant rice paper sheets will soften immediately at any exposure to moisture.
Duncan’s tip: If using standard rice paper sheets, pre-dip the sheets in cold water for 20 seconds prior to rolling. Ensure ends are tucked in when rolling standard rice paper sheets to prevent rice paper roll from breaking.