My family vacations in Virginia Beach every year around this time in August. The great thing about the family reunion is that I get to spend time with my relatives who are crazy good cooks. Aunt Qua is another amazing home cook and luckily for me, she agreed to spend time showing me some of her best and easy to make dishes. In this post we will make bò tái chanh. Bò tái chanh is a refreshing salad with beef cooked in lime juice. It is the Vietnamese version of beef carpacio. The pineapple and chili sauce is my family’s concoction to replace the typical pungent fish paste sauce. A little of the sauce over the fresh lime marinated beef and salad hits the spot, especially during the hot and steamy summer. I guarantee that this salad will be gone in no time.
This dish is rated easy and serves two to four people, depending on if the dish is meant as a side or main dish.
1 lb of eye round beef
¼ cup of roasted peanuts (approximately a handful)
4 limes or enough for ¾ cup of fresh lime juice
½ cup of chopped mint
1 cup of diced pineapple
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
¼ of an iceberg lettuce
a few sprigs of cilantro to garnish
Thinly slice the beef against the grain.
Microwave the limes for 5 to 10 seconds to allow the juice to flow. Roll the limes against a hard surface. Juice the limes which should give you ¾ cup of lime juice.
Boil 2 cups of water in a small pot. We will use this to blanch the beef.
In a large bowl, add ¾ cup of lime juice, ½ teaspoon of salt and 7 tablespoons of sugar. This will resemble a strong lemonade.
Reserve 3 tablespoons of the lime sauce for the salad dressing.
Once the water almost boils, blanch the beef in batches. Drop the beef into the water and remove them right away with a slotted spoon.
Place the blanch beef directly into the lime juice mixture. Mix well and set aside for ½ an hour to allow the beef to marinate in the lime sauce.
Thinly slice ½ of a medium yellow onion and place into a bowl of water for at least 10 minutes to remove the bite. If you like the sharp onion taste, only soak the onion for 5 minutes.
Thinly slice ¼ of an iceberg lettuce.
Rough chop ½ cup of mint.
Pineapple and Chili Sauce:
Finely dice approximately 1 cup of fresh pineapple.
Mince 2 Thai chili and 3 cloves of garlic and set aside. You can remove the seeds from the chili to lower the level of spiciness or just add only 1 Thai chili. This will give another dimension to the sauce.
Combine the pineapple and ⅓ cup of sugar in a pot on high heat and stir for approximately 7 minutes or until the pineapple chunks have caramelized.
While the pineapple is cooking, combine 3 tablespoons of fish sauce and 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl.
One the pineapple have caramelized (after approximately 7 minutes), add the fish sauce mixture.
Stir well to incorporate the ingredients. Turn off the heat.
Add the Thai chili, garlic and 1 teaspoon of lime juice to the pineapple sauce.
Strain the onion and add the lettuce and mint to a large bowl. Add the reserved lime sauce and mix well.
Strain the lime juice from the beef.
Plate the salad with the salad mix and top with the marinated beef. Add a pinch of ground pepper and a handful of toasted peanuts.
Serve with a side of the pineapple and chili sauce. You will only need 1 spoon of the pineapple and chili sauce per 1-2 cups of salad, depending on your preference.