Total time: 40 minutes
Note: Adapted from "The Little Saigon Cookbook" by Ann Le.
1 pound beef (filet or sirloin; best grade recommended)
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup fish sauce (nuoc nam)
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 bunches watercress, stems removed, about 5 cups
2 onions, cut in half and sliced
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
4 plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
1. Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes.
2. Prepare the marinade in a bowl or container with a lid by combining 2 tablespoons of the oil, the fish sauce, black pepper, oyster sauce, garlic and sugar. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved, then add the beef cubes. Cover the bowl or container and shake the cubes to evenly coat the meat (or you can simply stir). Leave the cover on and let the container sit for 20 minutes on the counter.
3. Clean the watercress and arrange it on a large serving platter or dish.
4. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil over high heat. When it is hot, add the onion. Sauté for just a few minutes, then throw in the beef with its marinade and toss quickly. You need to cook for only 5 minutes over low to medium heat for the meat to be medium rare; continue tossing as it cooks. Cook it longer if you prefer.
5. When the meat is cooked, turn off the burner and stir in the cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Spoon onto the watercress and top with tomato wedges. Serve family style with steamed rice.
Each serving: 248 calories; 18 grams protein; 11 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 15 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 35 mg. cholesterol; 1011 mg. sodium.
Richard Hartog Los Angeles Times