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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Seared Rare Beef on Fresh Plantain (Bò Tái Me Lót Chuối Chát)

My husband and I used to dine out frequently when we were still dating. We would follow our noses around to good food in Portland, Oregon and San Francisco mostly. Eight years of dating meant an abundance of good food and one fat check, but the experience was worth every morsel. One of our favorite restaurants is Ana Mandara on Beach Street located in San Francisco. This exotic, beautiful restaurant is owned by Don Johnson, Cheech Marin and executive chef Khai Duong. What we like about this place is chef Khai Duong's modern, sophisticated, French-influenced Vietnamese cuisine and of course the beautiful and romantic atmosphere. 

I used to watch chef Khai Duong's cooking show on the Vietnamese channel when I still lived in San Rafeal.  Every time when his show was on, I sat on my bed with my laptop eager to  jot down his recipes.

We haven't been back to Ana Mandara since the birth of our kids. So to stir up the nostalgia, tonight I made four dishes using most of chef Khai Duong's recipes: Seared Rare Beef on Fresh Plantain; Garlic Crab Butter Noodles; Banana Blossom Salad with Chicken and Grapfruit ; and Crispy Skin Salmon with Yellow Chives & Sweet Chili Sauce.

Since I made all the dishes at once and tried to get them done before my husband came home from work, I didn't have enough time to take pictures of all the dishes.

Enjoy a wonderful recipe of one of the dishes that I experimented: Seared Rare Beef on Fresh Plantian.  A hearty, yet elegant appetizer that can be served at room temperature up to an hour from preparation. Great for entertaining.

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RECIPE: Seared Rare Beef on Fresh Plantian
Serves: 4
Making Tamarind Sauce
1/2 package of tamarind pulp (7 ounces), cut into small pieces
2 cups of water
10 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sambal oelek (ground fresh red chili paste)
 8 tablespoons of  fish sauce
Put the tamarind pieces into a saucepan with the water. Bring
to a boil and simmer for about 8 minutes. Drain and pour the mixture into a fine mesh strainer.

Wet Tamerind, Seedless come in a 14 oz bag

 Press the pulp to extract the thick tamarind liquid into a bowl. (Makes about 1 1/2 cups tamarind liquid). Add the sugar, sambal oelek, and fish sauce. Stir until smooth.  Taste test the sauce and adjust the fish sauce and sugar for salt and sour-sweetness.  The orignal recipe called for only 3 Tbsps of sugar and 4 Tbsps of fish sauce but the tamarind sauce was still very sour.  I ended up adding a lot more of sugar and fish sauce. 

Pour tamerind sauce in a glass jar and store in ther refrigerator for later use.
Making Beef
1/2 teaspoon of 5-spices powder
1 teaspoon of chopped garlic
Several twists of black pepper
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
8 ounces New York sirloin strip, trimmed of fat
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons of tamarind sauce (see recipe above)
1 tablespoon of crisp shallot flakes
1 tablespoon of Thai basil, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of mint (rau hún), roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of Vietnamese coriander (rau răm), roughly chopped
1 small firm fresh plantain with the peel left on
3 tablespoon of white vinegar to mix with a bowl of cold water
Chopped peanuts for garnish
Combine the first four ingredients in a shallow bowl and stir to distribute ingredients. Place the sirloin strip whole into the bowl to coat each side of the beef evenly with the marinade.
Prepare a grill or skillet until it is hot. Sear the beef for about 30 to 45 seconds on each side or until there are grill marks, leaving it rare inside. When cool enough to handle, cut crosswise into thin slices. Put the beef slices into a bowl and toss with lemon and lime juice. Let sit for about 2 minutes.

Add two tablespoons of the prepared tamarind sauce to the beef and then fold in the crisp shallot flakes (I made my own crisp shallot flakes, but you can find at Asian markets), mint and basil. Make sure to taste it and adjust tamarind sauce to your liking.  The original recipe didn't call for mint but always like to add some mint (rau hún) and Vietnamese coriander (rau răm) to salad dishes.  Toss to mix. Set aside.
Do not peel the plantain, but use a vegetable peeler to remove any black spots. With a mandoline, cut the plantain crosswise into thin slices and put into a bowl of cold water with the 3 tablespoons of white vinegar to prevent discoloration.

You can find Plantain at Asian Supermarkets.

When ready to serve, pat the plantain slices dry and arrange the slices on a platter. Arrange a small mound of the rare beef on top of each slice of plantain.

Next to Seared Rare Beef dish is Banana Blossom Salad with Chicken and Grapfruit.

Garnish with chopped peanuts and crisp shallot flakes

Serving Suggestions:
Serve with roasted sesame rice paper.


  1. pics look great. :-)

  2. I am already drooling. Definitely will try to make this dish. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. Hi Loan ,
    How long can you leave the left over tamarin sauce in the refrigerator. I tried your recipe and it turned out really good but I have so much left over sauce that I don't know what to do with it or how long I can save it til the next try. thanks

    1. You can store the remaining tamarind sauce in the refrigerator for at least a month or even longer.