Hong is alway begging me to make my bo tai chanh. Even though it’s a classic Vietnamese dish and really simple to put together, it’s uncommonly found in Vietnamese restaurants. Recently we were invited to a party so Hong helped me make this dish to bring along. A direct literal translation to English means “rare beef lemon” but that just doesn’t sound appealing. It’s similar to carpaccio in that it’s thin slices of beef– except that it’s cooked with the acid from citrus–so is it more like a meat ceviche? You might be reminded of rare pieces of beef in pho tai without the pho. Regardless, this dish is one of Hong’s favorite and judging by how fast it went at the party–you might like it too.
This is a great appetizer that can be served alone, with shrimp chips, or black sesame rice crackers (banh da). Beef round eye and tenderloin are great cuts for this dish but you can fancy it up with filet mignon if you wish. Have your butcher slice it as thin as possible for you. If they don’t provide this service, try what I did when I went to school at the University of Michigan: quick freeze the meat outside in -10 degree weather for 30 minutes before cutting it…but of course, you can use your freezer. 🙂
Bo Tai Chanh (Vietnamese Beef Carpaccio) serves 6-8
- 1 pound of beef (thinly sliced beef eye round or tenderloin)
- 1 cup lemon juice or lime juice
- 2.5 tbs sugar
- 46 oz. can of pineapple juice (contains acid and protealytic enzymes, cooking and tenderizing the beef and adds sweetness)
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup green onion (cut into 2-3 inch pieces and thinly sliced lengthwise–see photo above)
- 1/2 bunch of rau ram (Vietnamese coriander) stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped (substitute with basil or mint if not available)
- 2 tbs fried shallots (pre fried, found in Asian groceries)
- 2 tbs roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- ~ 2tbs nuoc mam cham
- 1 jalepeno (finely sliced)
Mix lime or lemon juice with sugar until dissolve and set aside.
Traditionally, the meat is cooked by citrus acid, but we always make large quantities and don’t have the time to wait. So we use a shortcut which we think still tastes great. Fill half of a medium size sauce pan with pineapple juice and heat to a rolling boil. Quickly “blanch” some of the beef a bit at a time, no more then a few seconds or so removing it as it turns slightly opaque but still quite rare. Place in large mixing bowl.
Add the lime or lemon juice mixture and mix well, letting the acid do the rest of the cooking about 15-20 minutes, but use your judgement as to when to remove it from the acid. We like it pretty rare. Drain and squeeze out excess liquid from the meat. Mix in the onions, rau ram and drizzle with a bit of nuoc mam dipping sauce (don’t over do it as you don’t want to overpower the fresh citrus taste) and mix well and adjust to taste. Transfer to serving platter and top off with crushed roasted peanuts, shallots, and jalepeno.
We never make anything for two!