Chefs' Recipes

Thi Le's beef tartare with herbs and nuoc cham

Melbourne restaurant Anchovy's beef tartare is spiced up with herbs and nuoc cham. It will pair perfectly with potato crisps.

By Thi Le
  • 40 mins preparation
  • 10 mins cooking
  • Serves 4 - 6
  • Print
Beef tartare with herbs and nuoc cham
"For me, tartare has always been comforting and a crowd-pleaser," says Anchovy chef Thi Le. "It was one of our staples growing up - Mum would bang out a tartare with herbs fresh from the garden whenever she had guests, or if my school friends came over. It was Mum's way of using all the leftover pho beef. My other love is Laotian food for its chilli and freshness. The Anchovy tartare is a hybrid of Mum's and the Laotian-style - lots of heat and punch and fresh herbs."


  • 1 tbsp white sticky rice
  • 1 red birdseye chilli, quartered lengthways
  • 200 gm piece of flank steak, very finely diced
  • ¼ Lebanese cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
  • 10 mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ golden shallot, very thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 2 spring onions (white part only), thinly sliced
  • Watercress sprigs, to serve
Nuoc cham
  • 25 gm caster sugar
  • 25 ml white vinegar
  • 25 ml fish sauce
  • ½ small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ½-1 birdseye chilli, finely chopped, or to taste
  • 1 tsp lime juice, or to taste
Potato crisps
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • ½ russet Burbank potato, peeled, sliced wafer-thin on a mandolin (see note) (175gm)


  • 1
    Dry-roast rice in a small frying pan over low heat until deep golden (10-15 minutes), cool then finely grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, and set aside (see note).
  • 2
    Dry-roast chilli in a small wok or frying pan over low-medium heat until completely charred and dried (10-15 minutes), then finely grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, and set aside (see note).
  • 3
    For nuoc cham, dissolve sugar in 50ml boiling water in a small saucepan, then cool briefly (1-2 minutes). Stir in vinegar and fish sauce, and stand to cool (10-15 minutes), then stir in garlic, chilli and lime juice.
  • 4
    For potato crisps, heat oil to 140C. Rinse potato in a bowl under cold running water until water runs clear. Dry well with paper towels, then deep-fry in batches (be careful, hot oil will spit), turning occasionally, until light golden and crisp (2-3 minutes). Drain on paper towels and season to taste.
  • 5
    Combine beef with ½ tsp roasted rice in a small bowl, and season with roasted chilli and salt to taste. Mix in a third of the nuoc cham, check seasoning – the mix should taste toasty from the rice and spicy from chilli – then add cucumber, mint, shallot, spring onion and extra nuoc cham to taste. Serve tartare topped with watercress and with potato crisps.


Roasted rice and chilli can be done in larger amounts, and kept in an airtight container for up to a month. Russet Burbank potatoes are available from select greengrocers; if they're unavailable, use sebago potatoes.
Drink Suggestion: Weingut Wittmann "100 Hügel" Riesling 2014, Rheinhessen, Germany – a drier style riesling, with aromatic, round fruit supported by snappy acidity and minerality. Drink suggestion by Andrew Barry