There is a famous saying in Vietnam.
It compares Saigon weather to that of a woman – you will never know what strikes her mood. Lemongrass Beef Soup helps balance both the weather and a woman’s mood.
She could be happy and sunny one minute and in a blink of an eye, turn all cloudy and rainy. If you visit the city in May, you’ll find that this is true. This year, in particular, May has brought with it unbearable heat at noon and angry bursts of rain throughout the rest of the day.
This sporadic weather boosts the sales of both sunscreen cream and plastic raincoats.
Another product that is supposedly enjoying higher sales during this season must be lemongrass.
Something to look forward to at the end of a crazy weather day is to set your diffuser on with a few drops of lemongrass oil in it. Snuggle up in bed with your favorite book and a warm drink to this smell is the ultimate relaxation.
As much as I enjoy the relaxing benefits of the fragrance in my room, I still prefer to consume my lemongrass the conventional way – with food. Now there are different ways that my fellow Vietnamese incorporate this herb in our daily dishes. This herb includes finely chopped and fried with snakehead fish, mixed with fish sauce, ginger, and chili for snail dipping, or in a broth.
I found the last one most relaxing, especially in this lemongrass beef soup.
It’s like diffusing the aroma while still being able to eat it. Win-win for both your mind and stomach.
Many soup-based dishes in Vietnam includes lemongrass in the broth. This recipe below is for beef shanks and chicken, although you will need a pressure cooker for the beef to make sure the meat is tender and won’t take up your whole day to cook.
Beef Ball Lemongrass Soup with Vermicelli
2 lbs of beef ball, half
2 lbs of ox tails, cut into small chunks
Four stalks of lemongrass, with the green, removed, cut in half and roughly smashed
Three tablespoons of rock sugar
Four tablespoons of fish sauce
One teaspoon of salt
One small chunk of ginger roots
2 pounds of fresh vermicelli (if using the packaged dry one, follow cooking instruction on the package)
Chopped spring onions & cilantro to garnish
Ground black pepper
Serve with: Thai basil, sawtooth coriander, lime and chili
- Boil a medium pot of water and add the oxtails chunks to cook for 10 minutes. Rinse off all the impurities and set aside.
- In a large soup pot, heat up one quart of water.
- When the water starts to steam, add the onion, shallot, ginger, and lemongrass stalks. Let these cook for 10 minutes, until the water boils.
- Add the oxtails. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Transfer everything from the soup pot to an electric pressure cooker. Cover and turn it on according to the instructions. I put mine on for 60 minutes.
- After 60 minutes, the cooker will automatically turn off. I let mine steam off for another 10 minutes then uncover.
- Transfer everything back into the soup pot. (This is the point where I seriously consider buying a standard pressure cooker that works on stove).
- Anyway, turn the heat back on, add the beef balls and cook for another 15 minutes. Season with sugar, salt and fish sauce.
To Serve Lemongrass Beef Soup:
In a bowl, add vermicelli, layer the beef balls on top, and add cilantro and spring onion.
Ladle a spoonful of beef soup and oxtails into the bowl until the noodle is completely covered.
Sprinkle some pepper on top
Serve the lemongrass beef soup hot with Thai basil and sawtooth coriander. Squeeze some lime over it and add chili if you like it spicy. Dip the meat in the fish sauce if needed.