Bun Thit Nuong Recipe
Bún thịt nướng is my kind of comfort food. It's a simple Asian meal that consists of room-temperature rice vermicelli noodles and đô chua (pickled veggies) topped with grilled meat. I marinated two rib-eye steaks with soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger garlic paste, palm sugar, green onions and sesame seeds.
The ingredients that accompany the rice noodles can vary. I made this version with my favorites: sautéed crab (cua), shrimp (bún tôm nướng) and grilled beef (bún bò nướng). Of course, you could adapt this meal with fried fish (bún cá chiên), chicken (gà), eggrolls (bún chả giò thịt nướng) or even lemongrass tofu (for a vegetarian version). What I like most is that it's light and healthy without being too terribly difficult to make (I prepped everything separately the day before). And it doesn't hurt that it looks so appetizing!
Yields: 6 servings½ pound raw large shrimp
1 whole fresh crab
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 (10-ounce) rib-eye steaks, thinly sliced (¼")
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
½ cup Kosher salt
3 tablespoons palm sugar, freshly grated
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, slightly toasted
2 tablespoons red chili powder, to taste
1 (2-inch) chunk fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 lime, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon dried fried shallot (store-bought), slightly crushed
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
1 cucumber, seeded and cut into matchsticks
½ head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 cup carrot and daikon pickles
1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons roasted peanuts, slightly crushed
1 (16-ounce) package vermicelli rice noodles (bún in Vietnamese), cooked and cooled to room temperature
Prepping the crab:
Clean the crab, brush and rinse thoroughly. Place in a pot, add about 1-½ to 2 cups of water and boil for about 10 minutes (see tips). Transfer to an ice water bath for about 3 minutes to stop the cooking process. Drain and discard all the liquid.
Remove and discard the abdominal flaps (the triangle-shaped tail). Lift and separate the back-fin with the rest of the claws by placing a large tablespoon at the bottom of the crab. Remove and discard the "lungs" (also known as Devil's fingers; they have a spongy texture and are inedible).
Gently remove the crab meat from the back-fins (the inner chambers are filled with meat). Gently crack the claws using a meat tenderizer mallet and gather all the crab meat in a large mixing bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok. Add the shallot and fry until golden. Add the crab and stir until fragrant. Add 2 teaspoons red chili powder. Turn off the heat and let cool for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cracked pepper.
For the ginger: Clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife (or the edge of a spoon). Grate about 1 inch of ginger with a fine mesh microplane. Gather about 2 teaspoons of grated ginger root. Set aside.
Prepping the shrimp:
Remove and discard the head of the shrimp if it's still attached. Carefully shell and de-vein the black part of the shrimp using a sharp hook-like paring knife, all the way from the head to the tail so when it's cooked, the shrimp will open up like a butterfly. Make sure to remove the tip of the tail (the shell that covers the tail) as well; this part is very delicate. Rinse the shrimp under cold running water and pat dry using a paper towel. Repeat the same procedure for each shrimp. These steps are tedious but essential for good results.
In a large bowl, place the shrimp. Add 1 tablespoon palm sugar, 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon ginger, Kosher salt and 2 teaspoons red chili powder. Let stand for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Drain the shrimp and pat dry using paper towels. There should be as little liquid as possible. Season with salt.
In the same wok, heat 1 tablespoon oil for about 1-2 minutes over high heat. Add 1 clove garlic. Cook until fragrant. Place the shrimp one piece at a time. Cook for about 1-2 minutes until seared on one side, then start stir-frying the shrimp for another minute until it changes color. The shrimp will start to open up like a butterfly. Add the fried shallots and lime juice. Stir well. Sprinkle with black pepper. Turn off the heat and transfer to a platter.
Cooking the beef:
Drizzle the steaks with the juice of half a lime. Pat dry using paper towels. On a large platter, rub the beef with the grated ginger, palm sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, the remaining garlic and the remaining red chili powder. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon canola oil, chill and marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Remove the beef from the refrigerator so it returns to room temperature. Sprinkle with salt on both sides.
In the wok, heat 1 tablespoon oil. The oil should be really hot, almost to the smoking point. Using tongs (It's important that you do not pierce the meat so it remains moist and tender), place the beef in the wok (over high heat) and cook for 2-3 minutes. You want to create a nice, caramelized crust. Flip the meat on the other side and cook for another 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Cut each piece into thirds.
In a bowl, combine the lettuce, mint and cucumber. Toss well.
When you're ready to serve, in each individual bowl, place some carrot and daikon pickles. Add the vermicelli noodles, the lettuce combination and some crushed peanuts. Top with the grilled meat, a few tablespoons of crab meat, shrimp and a few slices of chile pepper.
Serve with nước mắm on the side.
I buy dried fried shallots at the Asian store. They're crunchy and very strong in flavor. You can also make your own by frying thinly sliced shallots if you like.
For the crab cooking time, count approximately 8 minutes per pound.
You could also thread the beef onto skewers.
The soy sauce brings saltiness to the dish and a nice amber brown color. My favorite soy sauce is the Da Bo De brand. It has a very nice flavor and is not too salty. You can this particular sauce at Dai Thanh Asian market on 420 South 2nd St, in San Jose.
All the ingredients listed above can be found in any Asian stores.
Make sure the steaks are sliced against the grain, so the meat remains tender.
There are other cuts of steak that are likely to produce tender results. You could also use sirloin, flank steak or skirt steak.Published By: on February 21, 2012.