Delicious Vietnam/Rice Bloghop: Vietnamese Style Grilled Lemongrass Beef in Rice Paper Spring Roll Wraps

This post is months in the making, Anh from Food Lover's Journey asked me to join her and  Ravenous Couple Delicious Vietnam initiative, as one of our favorite cuisines, outside of my Indian and Mediterranean/Israeli, is Vietnamese. This month's host is Phuoc'n Delicious.
Recently what snowballed out of Cake Love blog hop, Junia of Mis Pensamientos's  brainchild, is a monthly initiative led by Junia, with the September's theme being Rice Love. Since these photos were snapped back in July when I made these rice paper rolls, I thought what a fantastic idea to combine both initiatives into a one post. I will list all hosts of Rice Love as well as Delicious Vietnam when the complete lists are available.
I think I mentioned in a couple of previous posts that one of my favorite cookbooks is Asian Grilling by Su-Mei Yu. This recipe is an adaptation from her book. The author doesn't have the rice noodles in the rolls and I thought it would be wonderful to have them as added texture. It is also a nice way to highlight two rice ingredients in this recipe as part of the Rice Love blog hop, one is the rice paper and the second are the rice noodles. I like to serve the noodles in the spring roll wraps or all by themselves with a Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Sauce or a Thai Style Cucumber Relish as featured in the photographs, as a salad or with flank steak strips of beef.
While my site focuses on flavors and cuisines I grew up on, it won't be a complete reflection on our tastes if I don't once in a while talk about the other dishes and cuisine we adore. These cuisines might make guest appearances here in this space. I mentioned Thai was the next cuisine I was enamored with next to Indian, the bold flavors captivated me. Then there was a recent South Asian discovery of Indonesian cuisine with Padang Fish Curry (West Sumatra, Indonesia) and the 411 on Fresh Turmeric out of James Osland's Cradle of Flavor but Vietnamese cuisine has a feel and a rhythm of its own. A sublime tone of delicious, delicate, calmly satisfying flavors, whether in their soothing Pho soup or these pretty rice paper wrap rolls.
I am heavy handed with the ingredients in the marinade and use the recipe as an inspiration. I do not really count the sprigs of cilantro and how much lettuce I use. I usually buy hearts of romaine since they are more delicate in flavor and arrange all the ingredients for self assembly on a large platter. Dipping sauces and a large deep plate with water to wet the rice papers on the side. It's interactive and fun. Some make lettuce wraps and some rice paper ones, each guest is creative according to his or her whim and fancy. It's a crowd pleaser and I usually make this for large Asian inspired BBQ gatherings. Perfect for Labor Day weekend.
Vietnamese Style Grilled Beef in Lettuce

Flank Steak Marinade:
4lbs Flank steak
7 Garlic cloves, minced
2 Stalks lemongrass, white parts, minced
2 Tablespoons sugar
6 Shallots, minced
1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper or according to taste
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 Tablespoons fish sauce
2 Teaspoons sesame oil

Mix all ingredients of the marinade in a large rectangular Tupperware with a lid. Add flank steak to marinade and coat well. Close Tupperware with the lid and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

BBQ the next day on a grill or broil in oven to desired doneness. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into thin slices against the grain. Arrange on a platter. If you do not wish the beef juices to seep into herbs and vegetables, you can serve the beef on a separate platter than the veggies.

Rice noodles:
A package of rice noodles

Directions on package say to soak rice noodles in cold water but this method takes way too long. I soak in warm water for about 20 minutes or longer, or soak in hot water for 5-10 minutes or longer, until the noodles are soft. Rinse with cold water and drain.

For assembly:
Sliced flank steak from above
Rice noodles from above
Large rice papers
Hearts of romaine lettuce, rinsed and dried
Sprigs of cilantro, rinsed and dried
Fresh mint leaves, rinsed and dried
6-8 Baby cucumbers, peeled, thinly sliced lengthwise
Sauces from below
Large bowl with tap water to wet rice paper so they are pliable

Dip (immerse) rice paper briefly, about two seconds into water, if you are at an outdoor BBQ shake off excess water, if not dry gently on a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel. Set on your plate, layer desired ingredients, beef, rice noodles, cucumber, herbs and some dipping sauce in the middle of rice paper and fold to form a spring roll. Folding: fold bottom of rice paper over layered ingredients, then fold the sides of rice paper to envelope layered ingredients.

Can also make lettuce wraps or serve on top of rice noodles as a salad.

Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Sauce (I double this)
1 Garlic clove, minced
3 Tablespoons sugar
3-5 Serrano chiles, or I use jalapeno, diced or halved lengthwise and sliced. Can be cored to lower heat.
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
2 Tablespoons lime juice

Mix and let sit for 10 minutes. If not serving immediately refrigerate.

For a Thai Style Cucumber Relish: (I double this)
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
1/3 Cup sugar
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Serrano chile or I use jalapeno, halved and cored if you wish to reduce heat and sliced
3 Baby cucumbers, peeled and diced or halved and sliced in half moon shape
1 Shallot, diced
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 Tablespoon chopped mint

Mix and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Best made few minutes ahead of serving but ok if made couple hours ahead and refrigerated.

Delicious Vietnam list is coming soon.
Please join in on the #ricelove fun by linking up any rice recipe from the month of September. Don't forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #ricelove event. The twitter hashtag is #ricelove :).

Co-Hosted by:
Baker Street ( Anuradha
Bloc de Recetas ( Salome
Bon a Croquer ( Valerie
Cafe Terra ( Terra
Chef Pandita ( Yuri
Daily Palette ( (Annapet)
Elephant Eats  (
Food Wanderings ( Shulie
Hobby and More ( Richa
Knitstamatic ( Deb
Mike's Baking  ( Mike
Mis Pensamientos ( Junia
Simply Reem ( (Reem)
The Professional Palate ( Regan
The Queen's Notebook ( Elizabeth
The Spicy Rd ( EA