Charles Phan's uncharacteristic recipe begins with a long braise. The resulting beef is jerky in name only: The slices are moist, savory and umami-rich. They're delicious, but they're not jerky in the traditional sense of dehydrated meat. They're also not as spicy as Vietnamese typically like their jerky, but as the chef and owner of the Slanted Door in San Francisco notes, you can add more chili peppers and/or flakes to attain your desired heat level.
Jarred, roasted chili paste is available at Asian grocery stores and Whole Foods Markets. It is sometimes labeled chili bean paste or sate paste.
Make Ahead: The jerky can be tightly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- 2 cups light soy sauce
- 8 scallions, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
- 2 pounds beef top round
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon roasted chili paste (see headnote)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic (from 3 medium cloves)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon minced Thai chili pepper
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
Combine 1 1/2 cups of the soy sauce, the scallions and 8 cups of water in a large pot. Add the beef and bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, and cook uncovered for 1 1/4 hours, adjusting the heat so the liquid is barely bubbling around the edges. Transfer the beef to a cutting board to cool to room temperature. Discard the cooking liquid.
Combine 1 cup of water, the remaining 1/2 cup of soy sauce, the honey, chili paste, fish sauce, 2 teaspoons of the garlic, the red pepper flakes, Thai chili and salt to taste in a large bowl. Whisk to mix well.
When the beef has cooled, cut the meat with the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Add the slices to the mixture in the bowl and toss to coat.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon garlic and cook, stirring, for 15 seconds, until the garlic is aromatic. Pour the beef and its marinade into the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has completely evaporated and the beef is glazed with the marinade.
Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and arrange the beef slices on the rack in a single layer. Let the meat cool to room temperature. The meat will be moister than American beef jerky but still chewy. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Adapted from "Vietnamese Home Cooking," by Charles Phan (Ten Speed Press, 2012).
Tested by Tim Carman.
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