It’s a wrap

We wrap the Dunwood Farm meat box with.. well, a wrap! The final item in my meat box was some premium 28 day aged minced beef, and I wanted to make something fun, easy and vehemently unlike cottage pie. I decided to recreate a very tasty dish we had recently at Viet Grill in Shoreditch that consisted of sliced ribeye, griddled at the table, which we then wrapped in rice paper with various salad and pickle fillings.

You can create this with any meat, minced or in strips, but for my version you will need:

  • About 450g minced beef
  • Vermicelli noodles
  • One iceberg lettuce
  • 5-6 spring onions
  • One carrot / cucumber
  • Handful of cashew nuts (optional)
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • One lime
  • Fish sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Small red chillis – I couldn’t find any so replaced with dried chipotles, to interesting results!
  • Lots of garlic
  • Vietnamese rice paper – like round pieces of stiff translucent paper, available at all good Asian supermarkets

The great thing about this meal is it’s so easy to make. The best approach is to prepare all your cold ingredients beforehand (this is everything except the beef). So blanch a handful of vermicelli noodles and leave to cool, then diagonally slice some spring onions, the carrot and/or cucumber (in the style that you would for a Peking duck wrap). Remove the mint leaves from their stems and slightly shred. Finally peel the lettuce leaves off, trying not to break them. Arrange everything on large communal plates that can be easily accessed by everyone dining.

Next, prepare your sauce. I opted for a piquant, spicy fish sauce variation over a peanut sauce, but you could make that too. This was very much an experiment so I won’t have exact measurements – I merely blitzed up lots of raw garlic and chilli, then added a few tablespoons of fish sauce, soy sauce and lime juice. Keep tasting until it’s to your taste. If it’s too strong, add a touch of water. Finally, sprinkle in some chopped spring onions.

Finally, cook your beef in a deep saucepan for about 20 minutes. I didn’t need to marinade it – I simply semi-braised it with lots of chopped spring onions, chopped chilli, a slosh of Shaoxing wine and fish sauce, balanced with a sprinkle of sugar and finally a touch of flour to avoid from being too wet. Toss in some chopped cashew nuts and you’re ready to serve!

Now the fun part is making your rolls.

  1. Prepare a large bowl of hot, but not boiling, water. Dip one sheet of rice paper in until all of it is wet. When you place it on your plate you will find it quickly absorbs and becomes soft and delicate.
  2. The art of a good roll is in filling it with the right amount of everything. Don’t be greedy – it’s always best to fill it with a conservative amount!
  3. To roll simple pull up the edge nearest to you, tuck in the two outer corners and finish the ‘envelope’. Maybe there’s a YouTube video that explains it better…
  4. What I like to do is also use the lettuce leaves as a base instead of the rice paper. It’s great for carb-phobics!

Naturally, Chris and I were very competitive about who had the better rolling technique. What do you think?

His?

Or mine?

With the fascinating fusion of the chipotle chillis and over-zealous addition of fish sauce, I had inadvertently created a very delicious smoky-piquant beef filling. Plus making the wraps were so fun – so I can’t wait to do this again.

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