Growing up, our normal dinners would include several family-style dishes to be eaten with rice (cơm). We always had some type of soup (canh), vegetable dish, and a protein dish. This is what standard Vietnamese meals were for us and were referred to as “ăn cơm” or “to eat rice”.
Of course there were dishes that my siblings and I all dreaded…..Canh mướp đắng (Bittermelon Soup) being one of them. But then there were some that were general favorites……Mực nhồi (Stuffed squid), Tôm lăn bột (Battered fried shrimp), and of course Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes). In fact, the latter was my personal favorite.
What I loved most about this dish was the “gravy” that it produced…..which is ironic because it’s the gravy-like sauces of many Chinese dishes that turn me off from that cuisine! But somehow, this beef gravy was liquid gold as a kid and when you mixed it up with your rice–delish! In fact, I would always request that my mom make sure that the dish had lots of “gravy”.
The key to making a killer Thịt Bò Xào is a high quality beef—ribeye or filet mignon was my mom’s personal choice. Since the meat needs to be cut so thin and cooked quickly at high heat, other cuts aren’t as successful. It may seem a tad pricey for a beef stir fry but when you take into account how many people this dish will feed, it’s well worth the extra few dollars. And when you bite into the meat, you’ll be pretty darn happy with the tenderness of it. As for the added bit of cornstarch and butter at the end (optional), it will assist in making the coveted gravy.
And when that gravy is soaked up into the potatoes—SOOO GOOD! It won’t be long before Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây is your favorite dish when you “ăn cơm”.
Tip: My local Vietnamese grocery store sells ribeye packages that are already thinly sliced. But if your store doesn’t or you can’t convince your butcher to slice it for you, pop your beef into the freezer for a few minutes before you start slicing it. Slightly chilled meat is a lot easier to make thin slices out of—just be sure to use a super sharp knife.
Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Vietnamese Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes)
Serves approximately 6-8
1 Pound Thinly Sliced Ribeye Beef
1 Small Yellow Onion, quartered
1 Large Tomato, sliced into wedges
1½ Cups Mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1½ Teaspoons Cornstarch
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, plus additional to fry potatoes
2-3 Tablespoons Maggi or Soy Sauce
Fresh Cracked Pepper
2 Large Russet Potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch wide strips
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, optional
In a bowl, mix together beef, garlic, cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Season with freshly cracked pepper and set aside.
Heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy pot until it reaches 375 degrees. Carefully add a handful of the potatoes into the pot stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown–about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes on paper towels and keep warm on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven while frying remaining batches. *If you prefer to bake your potatoes, toss the potatoes strips in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Spread them in one even layer on a baking sheet and place in a 450 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Stir every 10-15 minutes to ensure all sides are baked even.
Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large wok over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until both have softened but not browned, approximately 4-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Push the items to the side of your wok (or remove to a plate if your wok is not large enough) and add the beef. Quickly stir fry the beef for 1-2 minutes or until lightly brown—this should not take a long time since the beef is so thin. Stir in the onion/tomato/mushroom mixture and combine well. Add the butter (optional) and remove from heat. Stir in Maggi (to taste) and additional cracked black pepper.
To serve, place potatoes in a layer on a plate. Pour beef stir fry over the top and garnish with additional cilantro.