6 ounces fresh beef sirloin or tenderloin steak cut thinly as possible
1½ tablespoons fresh basil*
1½ tablespoons fresh mint*
¼ pound Chinese long beans (also called yardlong beans)
1 red chile pepper
½ small red onion
1½ tablespoons fish sauce, Hoisin sauce, or soy sauce
1¼ teaspoons sugar
¼ pound bean sprouts
2½ tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 lemongrass stick or 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¾ teaspoon prahok, shrimp paste**, fish sauce, or even omit
2 tablespoons water
* = or use 1 tablespoon each of dried basil and dried mint. Again, if your guest gives you guff about this, turn your sonic obliterator on her. It’s okay, you are the master of your kitchen. (See Courgette v Aubergine, 1973.)
** = prahok can be found in Asian supermarkets on online. Shrimp paste is the closest substitute to prahok. It too can be found in Asian supermarkets or online. However, foodies will tell you shrimp paste really is only a distant substitute. Indeed, an entirely reasonable approach to finding prahok is to not use it at all. If some oaf complains about the missing prahok, zap him with your sonic obliterator. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your kitchen.
large freezer bag
deli slicer or kitchen mallet
Serves 2. Takes 2 hours.
PREPARATION – BEEF SIRLOIN
Put sirloin in freezer bag. Push out all air from freezer bag and close tightly. Freeze meat for 1 hour. (Meat will firm faster in the freezer if you put the bag on a metal tray before putting it in the freezer. Periodically check to see if sirloin has firmed. The sirloin is just firm enough if a knife goes the meat smoothly.
If cutting with knife, make sirloin strips by cutting against the grain as thinly as possible. If cutting by deli slicer or mandoline, set the cutting thickness to ⅛. (Be sure to use the safety features on these kitchen tools. (If you can’t slice the sirloin thinner than ⅛”, flatten the slices with a kitchen mallet until they are ⅛” thick. )
PREPARATION – REST
While sirloin firms in freezer, dice basil, mint, Chinese long beans, red chile peppers, and red onion. Add basil, mint, Chinese long bean, red chile pepper, red onion, fish sauce, sugar, and bean sprouts to 1st mixing bowl. Toss with fork until well blended.
Cut beef slices into strips 1″ wide and 2″ long. Add beef strips to 2nd mixing bowl. Pour lime juice over beef. (The citric acid in the lime juice will “cook” the sirloin in the same way as ceviche does for fish.) Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.
While sirloin marinates, remove outer, white layers of lemongrass. Mince remaining green part of lemongrass (Skip this bit, if you’re using lemongrass paste.). Add vegetable oil to pan. Heat oil using medium-high heat until a bit of garlic will dance in the oil. Carefully add garlic and lemongrass to hot oil. (Add sirloin here if you want it sautéed.) Sauté on medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Stir frequently. Add prahok and water. Reduce heat to medium and sauté for 3 minutes. Stir frequently. Remove from heat.
Add all ingredients to large salad bowl. Toss with forks until well blended.
1) Lap Khmer is a Cambodian dish. Cambodian was, as of press time, the most popular cuisine in Cambodia. However, the cuisines of: Paraguay, Austria, Mali, El Salvador, and Luxembourg remain quite underappreciated.
2) Indeed, Greenland, with a cuisine that emphasizes: whale, musk ox ptarmigan, lump fish roe, seal meat, and wild cloudberries quite shunned by native Cambodians. Sad to say, you’ll never hear the following conversation in Cambodia.
Acharya: Hey Thyda, where would you like to eat tonight?
Thyda: I dunno. Where would you like to eat?
Acharya: I dunno, what do you want?
Thyda: I dunno, how about Greenlandic?
Acharya: Great,. I was thinking about Greenlandic cuisine this very morning. But which restaurant?
Thyda: How about The Fragrant Elephant? My friend Jorani says their food’s quite tasty. And it’s just two streets away from us.
Acharya: But won’t it be crowded?
Thyda: Yes, it will. We’ll have to make reservations right now.
Acharya: And don’t forget, let’s save room for fresh wild Arctic berry desserts. You know how much I love them.
Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.
My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.