Recipe: Beef salad with a stunning secret dressing

It’s time to get back into the kitchen and today’s dish is inspired by my recent visit to Vietnam. We stayed in the fabulous Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort and Spa and enjoyed dishes created by genius Chef Hoang. I was amazed at the beautiful salads he served up and kept trying to work out the recipe for the dressing. Well, lucky me, when we did a cookery course with him he divulged the secret recipe which I’m sharing with you today. Keep reading to find out more.

Waste not, want not, so I used my leftovers from my huge sirloin at my recent dinner at NV80. This salad is a perfect way to use up any leftover meat, this recipe would also be great with chicken or pork.

I served my delicious salad on this beautiful frog platter from Ceramix. Their delightful and unique ceramic collections feature stylish white platters, dishes, cups and bowls with an animal motif. As well as the frogs, which I particularly love, you can choose from birds, bunnies, cats, tortoises, snails and doves.

Vietnamese-style steak salad with a stunning secret dressing

Recipe for Vietnamese beef salad

The tasty salad on my beautiful Ceramix frog platter

Serves 2

250g white cabbage, shredded

1 medium carrot, peeled and grated

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

One quarter of a cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks

A handful of fresh mint, chopped

A handful of fresh basil, torn

300g cooked sirloin steak (medium rare), sliced. I used leftovers

6 shallots, sliced, fried until crisp and left to dry on kitchen towel

A handful of peanuts

Mix the cabbage and carrot and lay as a base to the salad.

Top with the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, mint and basil.

Layer the slices of steak next.

Sprinkle the fried shallots and peanuts over the top.

Pour over the dressing just before serving.

Chef Hoang’s secret dressing recipe

I make a big batch of dressing and store it in a jar in the freezer. It lasts for about a month and turns any salad into something special.

My favourite salad dressing recipe

The most delicious dressing recipe ever

1 kg fresh passion fruit

250g sugar

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp chilli sauce

Put the pulp of the passion fruit into a blender and whiz for 30 seconds. This is just to loosen it up a bit, we don’t want to break the seeds up.

Remove the pulp and put through a sieve to remove the seeds.

Add the sugar and whisk until it’s absorbed and the dressing has a slightly fluffy texture.

Stir in the chilli powder and chilli sauce and mix everything together thoroughly.

Delicious beef salad recipe

Close up salad with the frog watching over it

You can find out more about the fabulous ceramic collection from Ceramix at www.ceramix.co.za

Do you have a favourite recipe inspired by your travels? I’m always looking for new recipes to try, so do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

Recipe: Traditional Vietnamese Pho

Today it’s time to get back in the kitchen and cook something Vietnamese. I loved the food so much on my recent trip there and even did a cookery course at the wonderful Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort and Spa.

Vietnamese cuisine is considered one of the healthiest in the world. It incorporates lots of fresh herbs like lemongrass, mint, coriander and basil and spices like ginger, chilli and cinnamon. You’re often given a plateful of aromatic herbs to add to your dish at the table.

We ate Pho at the rooftop bar of The Majestic Hotel in Saigon. A huge bowl of tasty broth with plenty of noodles and the meat of your choice, served with that aromatic plateful.

I left Vietnam armed with recipes to try at home and today it was time to make some Pho. It does take some time as the flavours need to infuse properly, but it’s very little work with amazing results. Go on, give it at try.

Traditional Pho noodle soup with chicken

Serves 4

The tasty noodle soup topped with herbs and fresh lime

1 x 3cm piece of ginger, peeled

2 shallots, peeled

1 litre of vegetable stock

1.5 litres of water

2 pieces of Star Anise

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp cloves

Half a tsp of chilli powder

2 chicken breasts

200g rice noodles, soaked and ready to add to the broth

To serve

150g bean sprouts

6 spring onions, sliced into small pieces

Handful of mint, chopped

Handful of basil, torn

2 limes, halved

Place the ginger and shallots on a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 30mins until soft and cooked.

Leave to cool and then put in a blender to make a paste.

Place a large pot on the hob and turn on to the lowest setting. Add the vegetable stock and water, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves and ginger and shallot paste and stir.

Leave to heat through and bubble slightly for half an hour.

Add the two whole chicken breasts and leave on low for them to poach for one hour.

Meanwhile, arrange the bean sprouts, spring onions, mint, basil and lime on a plate.

After the chicken has cooked for an hour, remove it from the pan and add the noodles. Warm through for about 5 mins and while that is happening, slice the chicken.

Ladle out the noodles and broth into a bowl. Place the sliced chicken on top.

Serve with the herb selection which gets piled on top of the chicken broth mix.

Squeeze over the juice of half a lime and tuck in.

Pho chopped with tender poached chicken

Today’s top tips

Pho works equally well with beef. Instead of the chicken breasts, add 250g of rump steak and let it simmer in the mixture for about 2 hours.

You should always tear fresh basil rather than chop it to retain maximum flavour.

Try different adding different herbs like coriander or parsley to your Pho.

Vietnamese cooking doesn’t use a lot of chilli but if you’re a fan of hot stuff, up the chilli in this recipe.

Pho is also great for vegetarians, simply leave out the meat.

It also works well with fresh prawns. Just drop them in to the simmering mixture for about five minutes before serving, until they go pink.

I’ve used 200g of noodles here, if you’re a big noodle fan, add more – it can make a substantial meal.

Adding a plateful of crunch and freshness

Do you have a favourite Vietnamese recipe? What did you eat while you were visiting Vietnam. Let me know, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Recipe: Vietnamese-style grilled chicken thighs

So I’m getting very excited as I’m going to be heading off to Vietnam soon. A country I’ve never been to and have been longing to visit for a while. I don’t quite know what to expect but I do know the food is going to be fabulous.

So, inspired by my upcoming trip, here’s a simple and totally delicious recipe to bring a little bit of Vietnam into your homes.

I love cooking with chicken thighs, they absorb so much flavour and don’t dry out. The addition of sugar to the marinade means there’s a slight caramelisation when you grill which adds a delightful sweetness and a little bit of crunch.

You could serve this with rice or noodles for a more substantial dish. For a light meal it’s perfect with this simple, crunchy salad – including a much-used ingredient in Vietnam – fresh mint.

Enjoy!

Vietnamese-style grilled chicken thighs

Serves 2

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The succulent sliced thighs on a bed of green

4 deboned chicken thighs

2 tbsps soya sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

3 tbsps brown sugar

1 tbsp chopped ginger

1 dried chilli, chopped

Juice of 2 limes

Mix together all the above ingredients well to make a marinade. Add the chicken thighs and coat well. Cover and marinate for 3 to 4 hours, turning a few times.

Heat the grill and cook the chicken thighs flat for about 8 mins on each side until slightly blackened and caramelised. Baste with the marinade throughout the cooking process.

In the meantime make the salad by mixing together the three ingredients below.

For the salad

1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced into chunks

1 small packet of peanuts

1 large handful of mint, leaves torn

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A simple salad adds crunch to the dish

Remove the chicken from the grill and slice diagonally.

Serve with the salad.

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The chicken sizzles and browns under the grill