Beef Salad- Vietnam Style.

This is a simple weekday supper that is quick to make when you’ve come home hungry but don’t want to skimp on a fresh but filling supper.  The dressing I used for this is a take on the Vietnamese dipping sauce, Nuoc Cham, which  as it has a wonderful interplay of sweet, sour, salty and spicy.   It works as well with light and crispy spring rolls or prawns as it does in meatier dishes like this.

Vietnamese Beef Salad

You will need:
(for two hungry people)

2 beef steaks (skirt or frying steak, for example)
Sesame oil
Sesame seeds
Crispy lettuce or bag of crunchy salad mix  (I also had some baby corn in the fridge, so I used that.  You could also add green beans or mange tout).
Finely sliced carrot
Finely sliced cucumber
1 red chili, sliced (and de-seeded if you can’t take the heat)
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp fish sauce
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tsp mirin or brown sugar
2 spring onions, sliced
Torn up mint leaves, to serve. 


1.  Flash fry the sliced beef in sesame oil, for no more than 2 minutes on each side, less if the steaks aren’t particularly thick.  You just want them to get a good bit of colour, but still be nicely pink in the middle.  If you have a grill pan, use that. Put the steaks to one side to rest for a few minutes before slicing.  Meanwhile, get cracking with the sesame seeds and dressing.

2.  Toast sesame seeds in a hot pan- keep an eye on them as they’ll burn in seconds. 

3. To make the dressing combine lime juice, chopped chili, fish sauce and mirin (or sugar).

4. Combine the your salad leaves with the sliced carrot and cucumber and top with the beef.

5. Serve drizzled with the dressing, a sprinkling of sesame seeds, spring onions and mint.

Roasting chicken and a way with Pink Grapefruit

We roasted an absolutely enormous chicken last Sunday- a 2kg beast of a bird.  The leftovers lasted for days and made for some rather lavish sandwiches (particularly with some fried chorizo and roasted peppers).

 My favourite way to roast chicken is to stuff it with halved lemons and onions, herbs (and the giblets if you get them) and garlic cloves. Then  I make a herby garlic butter to go under the skin.  I prefer to cook my spuds in the same roasting tin as the bird because it is easier and, I think, pretty flavoursome.  So, I tuck the wedges in with whole garlic (unpeeled), some more herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, whatever you have to hand) and pour in at least about half a bottle of white wine.  Then coat the chicken with olive oil and sea salt before putting in the oven.

When it is done, I’ll transfer the chicken to a board, ready for carving and move the spuds to a serving plate. The leftover pan juices (fat removed) become gravy with added wine and stock (which, incidentally, can of course be made from the chicken carcass).  Very simple and perfect for a lazy weekend when you’ve got time on your hands and can watch period dramas while the oven is working it’s magic.

But this is actually not a post about roasting chicken (I rather suspect everyone is pretty loyal to their own method), but instead what to do with the leftover meat.  It is also a post about grapefruits, which are in season at the moment. Yes, at the moment.  In February.  In the winter.  It may be snowing in London, but it is still balmy in California.

Grapefruits are, of course, commonly associated with breakfasts.  Specifically, weekend breakfasts with all the frills- coffee, croissants, the paper, fresh orange juice. Perhaps some white linen napkins and table cloths and fluffy bathrobes.  Maybe a terrace with a view.  Because the grapefruit breakfast is, by it’s very nature, an indulgence.  You cannot eat a grapefruit on the go and you can’t gulp one down before work.  It takes time, possibly a specific serrated grapefruit spoon and a large dose of patience.

This recipe, however, is neither breakfasty nor pernickity but will make you wonder why you ever overlooked this humble citrus fruit.  Grapefruit, it turns out, works really well with eastern flavours, adding tang to the dressing’s sweetness and a cool softness in contrast to the crunch of the veg and peanuts.  The recipe comes from the Sunday Times Style section’s cook in residence, Lucas Hollweg, who writes brilliantly and creates simple yet ever-so-slightly unusual dishes that I find myself longing to cook every week.


Vietnamese-ish Chicken and Pink Grapefruit Salad

You will need:

For the salad-
2 skinless chicken breasts (I used the equivalent amount from various parts of my leftovers)
2-3 long shallots, cut into rings
3 pink grapefruit
2 medium carrots, thinly shredded or coarsely grated
500g Chinese leaf, thinly shredded
2 handfuls of mint leaves, roughly chopped
2 handfuls of unsalted roast peanuts (chopped)

For the dressing-
2 tsp dark brown sugar
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium red chillies, deseeded and cut into tiny squares.


1.  If you are using uncooked chicken, then cook in some chicken stock, bringing to boil first and then reducing the heat and cooking for 10 minutes, before taking of the heat and leaving for 15 minutes covered, until cooked through.  Remove from the pan, cool and then tear into shreds. Otherwise, shred your cooked chicken and put in a large bowl. 

2.  Put the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix.  Add the shallots and leave to soak for about 10 minutes.

3.  Cut the top and bottom from the grapefruit.  Place on a chopping board, then, using a sharp knife, slice off the peel and pith in downward strips, following the line of the fruit.  Holding the grapefruit in one hand, carefully slice down on either side of the papery membranes to release the segments and add to the large bowl.  Squeeze any remaining juices over the chicken and fruit. 

4.  Add the remaining salad ingredients to the bowl before adding the dressing and shallots.  Keep back a handful or two of peanuts.  Toss everything together.

5.  Serve in large bowls, pouring any leftover dressing onto the salad and sprinkling with some of the remaining peanuts and a few leftover mint leaves.