It seems every Asian cuisine has its own version of a rice noodle, whether fresh or dried. Semi-transparent rice vermicelli are made from rice flour paste. They're sold in bundles, cooked quickly and make an appearance in spring rolls, soups and stir-fries, providing textural drama when deep-fried. Rice sticks are thicker than rice vermicelli and are available in a variety of widths. Perhaps their most popular incarnation is as the basis of pad Thai. Fresh, round rice noodles, ranging from the very fine to those that are as thick as a Hokkien noodle, take a star turn in Malaysia's laksa. Fresh noodles cut into ribbons from fresh rice sheets are used in Vietnamese beef noodle soup, Malaysian stir-fries and Cantonese hor fun. We've included them in this lemongrass beef and noodle salad, where their silky, slippery texture contrasts with fresh herbs and crunchy peanuts.
- 2 golden shallots, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 stalks lemon grass, finely chopped
- 80 ml fish sauce (1/3 cup)
- 450 gm beef sirloin, cut into strips
- 2 small red chillies, finely chopped
- 55 gm white sugar (¼ cup)
- 70 ml lime juice
- 60 ml rice vinegar (¼ cup)
- 250 gm fresh rice sheet noodles
- 1 iceberg lettuce, cut into thin wedges
- 2 Lebanese cucumbers, cut into julienne
- 1 carrot, cut into julienne
- 50 gm bean sprouts
- 1½ cups coriander leaves (loosely packed)
- 1½ cups Vietnamese mint leaves (loosely packed)
- To serve: roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 1Combine shallot, 3 cloves of garlic and lemongrass in a mortar and, using a pestle, pound to a coarse paste. Add 1 tbsp fish sauce, season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and pound to combine. Place beef and lemongrass paste
in a non-reactive bowl, toss to coat, cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 1 hour.
- 2Combine remaining garlic and fish sauce, chilli, sugar, lime juice and vinegar and stir until sugar dissolves. Set dressing aside.
- 3Place rice noodles in a heat-proof bowl, pour over boiling water and stir using chopsticks to separate noodles. Drain, refresh in cold water, then drain again.
- 4Thread beef onto bamboo skewers which have been soaked in water for 10 minutes. Heat a chargrill pan over high heat and cook beef skewers for 1-2 minutes on each side.
- 5Combine noodles, lettuce, cucumber, carrot, bean sprouts and herbs in a large bowl. Remove beef from skewers, add to bowl, drizzle with dressing and toss to combine, divide among bowls, scatter with peanuts and serve immediately.