So I’ve moved to the tropics, where it’s perpetually set to summer. My signature dishes of slow-cooked rabbit stew, roasted pork belly and pheasant pie – which were on high rotation during our life in London – are just a bit OTT in 32 degree heat. And besides, where the hell does a girl find pheasant in Singapore? (Definitely not at the local farmers’ market for £4.)
Enter the new menu staple: the Asian summer salad. I’m talking tropical twists on coleslaw, substituting local salad greens for rocket and baby spinach, and my personal flavor of the month: lemongrass beef and vermicelli noodle salad.
This is a Vietnamese inspired recipe that I’ve bunged together: use whatever veg you fancy – capsicum, carrot, mange tout, bean sprouts or slivers of baby corn that have been tossed in a hot wok . The brighter the colour combination, the better – and for the tastiest beef, marinate it overnight. Like all of our fave recipes at Ladyland, it’s mega easy to assemble and looks a treat. Serve it on a huge platter at your next summer feast and let everyone dig in.
Serves 4 greedy people
For the marinade:
2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
A thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
2 tsp of sugar
2 tsp rice vinegar (from major supermarkets and Asian grocery stores)
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
½ long red chilli, very finely chopped (optional)
Juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges, to serve
250g lean stir-fry beef strips
400g packet of fresh vermicelli rice noodles
1 large carrot, julienned (get yourself a julienne peeler – it’ll change your life!)
1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
A handful of mange tout or sugar snaps, thinly sliced
A handful of bean sprouts
½ bunch of coriander, leaves picked and chopped
½ bunch of mint, leaves picked and torn
½ bunch of Thai basil, leaves picked and torn
Crispy fried shallot (from Asian grocery stores, for sprinkling)
1. To make the marinade, combine all of the ingredients in a jug and reserve half. Place the beef in a bowl and pour over half of the marinade. Stir to coat the beef, cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight (or, at the very least, a couple of hours) for the flavours to infuse.
2. Follow the packet instructions for preparing your fresh rice noodles, or quickly boil them and refresh in cold water.
3. Heat a wok and stir-fry the beef over a high heat for 2-3 minutes for medium rare. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl or platter, combine your noodles, vegetables and bean sprouts. Pour over the reserved marinade to dress the salad and toss to combine. Add the beef and herbs, and gently toss to combine. Sprinkle over the crispy shallot and serve with lime wedges.
Photography and styling: Emma Scott-Child