When the weather is hot I crave crunchy, sharp food – cornichons and salami, caper pasta and any Asian pickles I can get my hands on. Having eaten an excellent tofu banh mi at Common in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, I decided it was time to make some for myself.
Banh mi pickles are great. They’re what adds the tangy crunch to the traditional Vietnamese baguette. Usually made from just mooli and carrot, they couldn’t be easier to make. I, however, have found that adding cucumber to the mix makes them 100 times better (in my eyes.)
After nailing banh mi practically all week after making these I was getting bored from all the bread.
Wanting something fresh and with a delicious looking piece of flank steak from The Butcher’s Quartersitting in my fridge, a lightbulb went on in my head and this cold noodle dish was born.
You do need to make and chill the pickles before you attempt the whole dish. As the beef also needs marinating, I make them both the night before. You can get away with making them the same day as you’re making the dish, but they both need at least at hour in the fridge. I like to make this at the weekend and make everything at lunch for eating at dinner, but I am too disorganised to make two meals in one evening in the week.
Regarding the pickles, you really do need to cut them fine – so use a mandolin with a julienne attachment, a food processor or spiralizer. If you have none of these then cut matchsticks of 3cm x 0.5cm with a super sharp knife (and lots of patience). Don’t grate the veg, as it’ll go too mushy.
Some flank steak is quite thin, and other bits are thicker, so you’ll need to judge cooking times yourself. 650g flank might also be quite large. If so, get your butcher to cut it into two pieces, you’ll be flash frying it, so it won’t matter if you have to cook two pieces.
Soy marinated flank steak with banh mi salad
Serves 4 – cook 15 min – prep 1 hour
Bahn mi pickles
150g carrots, in matchsticks (see above)
150g mooli/Japanese radish, in matchsticks (see above)
150g cucumber, in matchsticks (see above)
3 tsp salt
120ml rice wine vinegar
50g caster sugar
Flank steak marinade
150ml dark soy sauce
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp siracha
100ml light olive, or other neutral, cooking oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tblsp toasted sesame oil
650g flank steak
Rice vermicelli noodles – enough for four people (be your own judge here!)
½ large bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 large bunch of mint, roughly chopped
Four spring onions, sliced fine-ish
100g roasted, salted peanuts, chopped medium
2 red chillies, sliced fine
2 limes, cut into quarters
- Put all the veg and 1 tsp of salt into a bowl and mix together, so that the salt gets on to all the veg, really scrunch it in with your hands. Pop the veg into a colander and leave to drain over a bowl for 30 minutes.
- Whilst the pickles are draining pop the vinegar, sugar and remaining salt into a small pan with 120ml water and heat on low until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Keep stirring as it’ll only take a minute or so, it doesn’t need to boil. Put aside to cool.
- Make the marinade for the steak by mixing everything together in a ceramic or glass dish, taste and when you’re happy add the steak (it will be salty, that’s normal, but you want a balance with the sweet and the spice). Cover and pop in the fridge.
- One the veg has had its time, scrunch them again whilst they’re still in the colander to squeeze out any residual water and then rinse with cold water. Pop into doubled up kitchen roll or on a clean tea towel and pat dry.
- Pop all the veg into a clean jar (I use a 454g/16oz size jam jar, but you can use anything you like that’s not metal), pop on a vinegar proof lid (or cover) and pop into the fridge.
- Leave at least an hour after making the marinade and pickles before making the beef and noodles. Take the beef out of the fridge an hour before you’re going to cook, to let it come to room temperature.
- Before you cook make sure you have everything chopped and prepped, plus all the extras to serve ready. Set your table too, the last bit of this is quick. Leave your pickles in the fridge until you serve.
- Take a large frying pan and put on a high heat. Put boiling water into a large pan and pop your noodles in. Cook as per packet instructions. Take out, drain, rinse in super cold water, pop in a large bowl and toss through with the sesame oil. Put to one side.
- Pop your beef into the pan (see above for a note on cooking) and flash fry on both sides. You want your beef to be rare (or however you like it, but I’d push it to medium rare max). Whilst the beef is cooking pour all the leftover marinade into a small pan and set over a very high heat until it has reduced to a runny honey like consistency – sticky, but not sluggish. Once the beef is cooked under a piece of foil for a couple of minutes whilst you get everything together.
- Drain the bahn mi pickles (you can keep the pickling liquor to use on salads if you like) and add all the pickled veg to the bowl with the noodles. Add the coriander and mint and toss to combine.
- To serve, divide the noodle salad between four plates, slice the steak into 3cm wide strips and place on top, sprinkle with the peanuts. Serve the sticky sauce on the side and let people add their own chilli, siracha and lime to taste.