Stir-fried beef with lemon grass


2 stalks fresh lemon grass, or 2 tbsp dried lemon grass
1 lb lean beef filet or eye of round. You may substitute chicken or shrimp
2 fresh red chile peppers, seeded and minced

6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp nuoc mam (vietnamese fish sauce)
1 tsp arrowroot or cornstarch
freshly ground black pepper
6 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, cut into slivers

1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
coriander sprigs, for garnish

How to prepare

If you are using lemon grass, discard the outer leaves and upper half of the stalk. Slice paper-thin and finely chop. If you are using dried lemon grass, soak in warm water for 1 hour. Drain and finely chop. Cut the beef across the grain into very thin 2 by 3″ slices. Lb the meat lightly with the flat side of a cleaver. In a bowl, combine the beef with the lemon grass, chiles, half of the garlic, 2 tbsp of the fish sauce, the arrowroot, black pepper to taste and 2 tbsp of the oil. Mix well. Set aside for 30 minutes. Heat a large skillet over moderately high heat and add 2 tbsp of the oil when the oil is hot, add the onions and the remaining garlic; stir-fry for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add the remaining 2 tbsp oil. When the oil is hot, add the beef, the remaining 1 tbsp fish sauce and the sugar. Saut over high heat for 1 or 2 minutes, or until the beef is just cooked. Transfer the mixture to a heated platter. Arrange the sauted onions around the meat mixture; sprinkle the peanuts and black pepper over all. Garnish with coriander.

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