Every so often on Pinterest I come across some food images that make me want to grab the food from the screen. That was the case with Alexandra Stafford’s food. Alexandra is the author behind Alexandra’s Kitchen, a blog that shares her background working in a restaurant with Vietnamese influence, how to use a CSA effectively, skills she learned working in restaurants, and plenty of wonderfully fresh, nutritious, tasty and cost-effective recipes. I asked her if she could share something with an Asian influence (I was watching old episodes of MasterChef Australia while I was home sick last week), and Alexandra delivered! Her recipe for Grilled Chimichurri Steak with Rice Noodles and Nuoc Cham looks absolutely divine. I love that you can use the nuoc cham in so many different ways. This will be another staple to my refrigerator. If you don’t eat meat or steak, please know you can substitute anything you like for the steak! –Kristina
About Alexandra: Alexandra Stafford writes and photographs the blog Alexandra’s Kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, always seasonal and local recipes. Alexandra credits her mother – who spoiled her as a child with homemade breads and soups and salad dressings – for influencing her love for cooking. After college, Alexandra spent four years working in professional kitchens in Philadelphia, and later became the food editor for a small newspaper and simultaneously started her blog. She currently lives in upstate New York with her husband and three young children.
See how easy it is to make Alexandra’s recipe after the jump!
Grilled Chimichurri Skirt Steak with Rice Noodles and Nuoc Cham
Notes: The chimichurri marinade is totally optional. If you have a source for good skirt, hanger, or flap steak, all you need is salt and pepper. At the restaurant, we always had pieces of hanger steak marinating in chimichurri, which is why I’ve included a simple recipe here. Both the chimichurri and nuoc cham can be made ahead of time.
for the chimichurri:
- 3 scallions
- 1 hot pepper, such as serrano or jalapeno
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 shallot
- 4 cups loosely packed herbs such as cilantro, basil, parsley
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 to 4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 a teaspoon kosher salt
Trim the scallions and chop into rough chunks. Cut off the stem of the pepper and discard, and cut the body into rough chunks — leave the seeds and membranes intact. Peel the garlic and shallots. Roughly chop the herbs — stems are ok to leave intact. Place everything in a food processor with the olive oil, salt, and 3 tablespoons of the vinegar. Pulse until smooth. Taste. Add the additional tablespoon of vinegar if it needs more bite. Note: This chimichurri can be used as a sauce as well as a marinade.
for the nuoc cham dressing:
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, sliced or minced
- 2 hot chilies, such as Thai bird or serrano or jalapeno, thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- 3/4 cup water
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the garlic and chilies and crushed red pepper flakes if you are using. Add 1/2 cup of the water and stir. Taste and add more water if necessary. Let stand for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust flavors if necessary. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
assembling the dish:
Note: If you can find fresh rice noodles (Ding Ho, if you live in Philadelphia), this is especially good. Otherwise, dried rice noodles work just fine. Count on 2 oz of dried rice noodles per person, and about 5 oz of steak per person.
- 1 lb (about) skirt, hanger or flap steak (this will serve 2 to 3 people)
- chimichurri marinade (optional)
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- dried or fresh rice noodles
- lots of fresh herbs: Thai basil (if you can find it), cilantro, mint, basil
- nuoc cham dressing
- hot sauce, such as Sriracha, optional
Preheat the grill to high. Coat steak with a thin layer of chimichurri marinade if using. Note: Steak can marinate overnight, too. Before grilling, pat steak dry with paper towels. Season all over with kosher salt and pepper (even if you have used the marinade). Grill for no more than 2 minutes a side — each of these cuts is thin, and best served medium rare. Let steak rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place rice noodles in bowl and submerge in boiling water. Let stand 3 minutes (or according to package instructions). Drain, rinse under cool water, and let dry briefly. Place in a large mixing bowl. Add herbs. Spoon dressing over to taste. Toss. Taste and add more dressing if necessary. Divide noodles among bowls or plates. Slice steak and divide among bowls. Serve, passing more nuoc cham and hot sauce on the side.
Why Alexandra loves this recipe: Of all the delicious bites I discovered while living in Philadelphia for five years, one remains the most memorable: fresh rice noodles from Ding Ho, a Chinatown minimart at the corner of 10th and Arch. When I worked at Fork, the chef, Thien Ngo, and I would often ride our bikes there at lunch time and order a $2 clamshell of fresh noodles, which we would devour with peanut sauce, sesame seeds, soy sauce and Sriracha. Often, Thien would also buy sheets of the fresh rice noodles, which he would use in various specials at the restaurant. When we had these fresh rice noodles on hand, I could always count on another delicious lunch: grilled chimichurri hanger steak served over freshly cut noodles, tossed with mint, Thai basil, and cilantro, dressed with a pungent nuoc cham. Light, refreshing, filled with herbs, these noodles continue to be a favorite summer dinner. Dried rice noodles work just as well, and if you don’t eat meat, whatever you like, such as shrimp, tofu or eggplant can stand in just fine.