Stir-Fried Vietnamese-Style Lemon Grass Beef

Beef goes especially well with lemon grass in this Vietnamese-inspired recipe. The delicate citrus flavour is a complement to the hearty beef. The garnish of roasted peanuts adds texture and crunch to this unusually aromatic dish, which you can serve with rice and another vegetable dish to create a complete meal.


  • 450 g (1 lb) lean beef steak
  • 3 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 100 g (4 oz) onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh red or green chillies, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

For the Marinade

  • 2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 2 stalks fresh lemon grass

For the Garnish

  • 25 g (1 oz) roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • Handful of fresh sprigs of coriander


Put the beef in the freezer for 20 minutes. This will allow the meat to harden slightly for easier cutting. Then cut it into thin slices 4 cm ( in) long. Put the beef slices into a bowl and add the fish sauce, Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry, sesame oil, salt, pepper and corn flour. Peel the lemon grass stalk to reveal the tender, whitish centre and crush it with the flat of a knife. Then cut it into 7.5-cm (3-in) pieces. Add this to the meat mixture. Mix well and let the slices steep in the marinade for 30 minutes.

Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is very hot. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the beef, marinade and lemon grass and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Remove the meat and drain it in a colander.

Pour off all but tablespoons of the oil and re-heat it over a high heat. When it is very hot, add the onions, chillies and garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Then add the Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry and sugar. Continue to stir-fry for 3 minutes. Quickly return the meat to the wok and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes or until the beef is heated through. Turn the mixture on to a warm platter, garnish with the chopped peanuts and coriander and serve at once.