This Vietnamese-style beef jerky is served with drinks and eaten as a snack with glutinous rice. It's also an ingredient in green papaya salad.
Make Ahead: The meat needs to marinate for 30 minutes and then dry for 12 to 48 hours. The jerky can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- 1 pound bottom round or sirloin
- 2 stalks lemon grass (may substitute 2 tablespoons dried lemon grass)
- 2 small red chile peppers, stemmed and seeded
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar or honey
- 1 tablespoon Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam)
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
Cut the beef across the grain into very thin 3-by-3-inch slices.
If you are using fresh lemon grass, discard the outer leaves and upper half of the stalk. Cut the remainder of the stalk into thin slices, then finely chop. If you are using dried lemon grass, soak it in warm water for 1 hour, then drain and finely chop.
Combine the chilies and sugar in a mortar and pound to a fine paste. Add the chopped lemon grass, fish sauce and soy sauce, stirring to incorporate. (Alternatively, use a blender and blend to a fine paste.)
Coat both sides of the beef pieces with the paste and allow the meat to marinate for 30 minutes.
Spread out each slice of beef on a large, flat wire rack or baking sheet. Let it stand in the sun until both sides are completely dried, about 12 hours; or place the rack on a rimmed baking sheet and let the beef air-dry in the refrigerator for 2 days.
If cooking in oven, preheat to 400 degrees. Transfer the rack with the beef from the refrigerator to the oven and bake about 10 minutes, until beef is brown and crisp.
If grilling, prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium (375 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 4 or 5 seconds.
Grill beef slices until beef is brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.
Adapted from "The Foods of Vietnam," by Nicole Routhier (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1989).
Tested by Jim Webster.
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