Califonia Bountiful

Beef skewers

Mike Yakura
Ozumo, San Francisco

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1-2 lb. tri-tip beef
Hoisin marinade (recipe follows)
8-10 lettuce leaves
Rice noodles (recipe follows)
Vietnamese condiments (optional, listed below)
4 oz. dried rice noodles, broken in half

Hoisin marinade
3/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tbsp. roasted rice powder (optional, but highly recommended)
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup garlic


Rice Noodles
Traditional Method: Soak dried rice noodles in room-temperature water for at least one hour or even overnight. Be sure there is enough water to completely immerse the noodles. After one hour, they should be soft, firm but flexible. At this point they are ready for cooking. Drain the water before using.

Quick preparation: Bring enough water to a boil to cover the noodles (or you can use very hot tap water). Turn off heat and immerse rice noodles in hot water for three to seven minutes until noodles are soft, cooked through but still firm and al dente, not mushy (check firmness frequently, as you would regular pasta). Rinse with cold water for 30 seconds and drain well.

Add everything to a mixing bowl, incorporate well. The recipe is enough for 1-2 lb. of meat, or about 15-20 skewers, depending on the portion size of your skewers. Cut the meat into 1/4-inch thick strips about 2 inches long; remember when slicing your meat that you cut against the grain. Lay the cut meat out on the cutting board and pound it flat with a meat tenderizer (it does not need to be completely flat, you just want it a uniform thickness so the meat cooks evenly on the skewer). Soak your bamboo skewers for about 10 minutes (do this before you begin cutting meat, to save some time). Then thread your meat onto the skewer. Salt and pepper the meat before you grill it. Cook on each side for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it's done. Tip: If the meat is not done in the center but the outside has a nice color and is starting to burn, then put it in a pan and continue cooking in an oven until the meat is finished.

To serve this dish, put 3-4 lettuce leaves on plate. Place skewers on top of lettuce and top with rice noodles. In addition, you can choose any of the following condiments on top to add flavor and texture.

Optional Condiments
Rice noodles, lettuce leaves, cilantro, mint, Thai basil, bean sprouts, pickled carrots and cucumber, peanut sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, garlic chili sauce, roasted peanuts, fried shallots and scallion oil are but a few of the optional condiments you can add on top of the skewers at the end, which will greatly enhance your dining experience. (Condiments are an important part of Vietnamese cooking; use them often and use them liberally.)

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