Vietnamese Beef with Lemongrass and Chilli on Vermicelli (Bun Bo Xao)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
for the nuoc cham
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • ¼  cup rice vinegar, or white vinegar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • juice of half a lime/lemon
for the bun bo xao
  • 150g rice noodles (also called rice stick at Asian grocers)
  • 3 iceberg lettuce leaves, sliced into thin julienne
  • 10 slices cucumber, sliced into julienne
  • 20 Vietnamese mint leaves, sliced into strips
  • 10 mint leaves, sliced into strips
  • 2 purple perilla leaves, sliced into strips (optional)
  • 2 tbsp roast peanuts, roughly chopped
for the lemongrass beef
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil, not olive oil
  • 300g rump steak, thinly sliced against the grain
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, finely diced
  • 1 red chili, finely diced
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy
  1. Make the nuoc cham by combining water, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, chilli and garlic in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over a low heat, turn off and cover with a lid to infuse. When cool, add lime/lemon juice. Taste and adjust, adding more sugar or lime juice as needed for balance - it should be salty, slight sweet and sour. This dipping sauce is great for spring rolls and will keep for months in the fridge.
  2. Cook the rice noodles according to instructions on the packet - some need to be boiled in hot water, while others are just soaked until rehydrated.
  3. Assemble each bowl - place iceberg in the bowl, top with cooked rice noodles, cucumber and herbs. Set aside.
  4. Heat oil in a wok until smoking and add the beef, onion, garlic, lemongrass and chilli all at once. Toss in the wok until the beef is cooked through, then add the fish and soy sauce and cook for a further 2 minutes. Ladle beef out onto the noodle bowls.
  5. Pour two tablespoons of nuoc cham over each serve, top with peanuts and serve immediately.
Recipe by A Kitchen Cat at