Hungry when I woke up one Sunday afternoon with a developing cold, I searched for leftovers in the fridge to nourish myself. There was a bowl of fried ground beef. The folks love making their own tacos at home so I’m bound to find ground meat at any time during the week. And when they’re too lazy to buy salad greens from the farmers’ market, I also find iceberg lettuce from the neighborhood grocery store in some sad plastic bag in the fridge. I thought about Buddhai Bodai in Chinatown, where they have this one dish I always order called Lettuce Song. Using the leftovers, I tried to replicate that taste even though I probably came up with a whole new salad recipe. It was still a delicious dish and it put the already-cooked ground beef to good use. If you have fresh bean sprouts, they add nicely to the crunchiness of the lettuce.
1/2 pound of ground beef
half a small head of iceberg lettuce, cut into strips
1 pack of vermicelli noodles
half a bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 cup fish sauce
juice from 2 limes
1 tsp brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tbsps peanut oil
1 tsp sesame oil
red chili flakes
1. In a frying pan over medium heat, sautÃ© garlic and shallots in hot peanut oil. Add ground beef and brown. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan ocassionally to avoid from sticking and burning. Remove to a salad bowl.
2. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar in fish sauce. Whisk in sesame oil. Add chili flakes to taste.
3. In the meantime, boil a pot of water. Add noodles and cook for less than 5 minutes. Drain and let cool with running water. Using a fork, separate noodles to avoid from sticking and forming into clumps.
4. When ready to serve, add the noodles to the ground beef and pour over dressing. Toss with the lettuce to combine.