Skewered Beef on Noodle Nests


Large Italian or Thai basil leaves, or shiso, sometimes called Japanese mint, can be used in place of the traditional, but obscure, pepper leaf.


  • 18 bamboo skewers (6 inches long)

  • 4 large stalks lemongrass

  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 4 teaspoons Asian fish sauce

  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce

  • 4 teaspoons sugar

  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric

  • ½ cup vegetable oil

  • 1 ½ pounds sirloin steak, trimmed of fat

  • 36 fresh pepper leaves

  • ½ pound rice vermicelli

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/2 cup Scallion Oil

  • Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts

  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion greens


  1. Soak bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Trim lemongrass stalks to 5 inches from base; remove bad outer leaves; cut into 1/2-inch lengths. In a food processor, process lemongrass to a hairlike texture. Transfer to a bowl; add garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, turmeric, and oil.

  2. Slice beef 1/4 inch thick, then 2 inches long; add to marinade; toss to coat. Marinate, refrigerated, 30 minutes to 8 hours.

  3. Fold steak slices in half; thread 5 slices onto each skewer, wrapping every other slice with a pepper leaf before skewering.

  4. Add vermicelli and salt to boiling water; cook until al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse; while wet, use a fork to twirl about 1/3 cup noodles against side of bowl to make a nest 3 inches wide. Transfer to a serving dish. Repeat until all noodles have been used. Drizzle nests with Scallion Oil.

  5. Brush a grill or grill pan with oil; heat until hot. Grill skewers until meat is well charred, 4 to 5 minutes for medium rare. Arrange skewers around noodle nests; serve immediately. Top with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce, peanuts, and scallion greens.

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