Vietnamese-inspired beef noodle salad

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As someone who loves to drink beer, I hate to think of wine hogging all the glory when it comes to meal pairings. After all, beer has the same capacity to make/break a meal based on a good or poor match for the food. Similarly, I feel that beer is a totally underestimated ingredient in most cooking, and even in baking!


It should come as no surprise, then, that when I was approached with the possibility of developing a recipe using Samuel Adams beer, I was eager for the challenge. Samuel Adams brewery has a number of seasonal beers for sale at the moment, but I used to serve at a restaurant that sold their Boston Lager, and knew it was a winner. It’s got a nice hoppy scent, and a slightly sweet almost caramel flavour, and just enough bitterness to balance it all out.


(Side note: the day I decided to bike over to The Beer Store to pick it up, it was pouring rain, so I looked like a very determined beer drinker cycling my soaked six-pack all the way home.)


When it came time to think up a recipe, I was daydreaming about the fresh beer I used to drink in Hanoi while snacking on street food all afternoon, and it occurred to me that something Vietnamese-inspired would be perfect.  I wanted to make a dish that was light enough for the summer weather, but hearty enough to be filling (i.e. not just a salad), so I made take on Vietnamese bún (rice vermicelli noodle) dishes. So here you have it: my Vietnamese-inspired beef noodle salad!


I marinated some finely-cut flank steak with the beer for an hour, threw the rice vermicelli noodles in the pot in the meantime, and while the noodles were cooking, I made the sauce and chopped up all the fixings. What I love about a meal like this, is although it’s a bit hands-on to get everything onto the table, once it’s there, everyone just helps themselves. You give ’em the empty bowls and they’ll fill them up with all the noodles, beef, and greenery that they want!

The beer helped make the meat really tender and infused it with great flavour. And the light sauce drizzled over the noodles really helps elevate the flavours and brings them all together. This dish is best eaten the day it’s made, preferably in the company of good friends  on some long, hazy summer evening!


{Sponsored post}: Vietnamese-inspired beef noodle salad

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 4 generous servings

A perfect dish for summer that's both hearty and refreshing!


    For the marinade
  • 500g flank steak, cut into thin strips for frying
  • 1 c Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • 1 Tb freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced very finely
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • For the noodles
  • 400g bún noodles (round rice vermicelli noodles, though any rice noodles of your choice would work fine)
  • For the noodle sauce
  • 3 Tbs fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs white vinegar
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 Thai chili, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced very finely
  • 2 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • For the toppings
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into thin strips
  • 2-3 limes, sliced into wedges
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 chillies, sliced
  • 1 bunch mint, washed
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed
  • 1 head read lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • For frying the beef
  • 1 large shallot, chopped very fine (or one small red onion, if you don't have shallot)
  • 1 Tb olive oil


    For the marinade
  1. Whisk the beer, ginger, garlic, and brown sugar together in a bowl. Add beef to a large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade on top. Ensure marinade coats all the beef, seal the bag, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. For the noodles
  3. While the beef marinates, fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil, and cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package. (Usually for bun, boil for 15-20 minutes).
  4. When noodles are done, drain and rinse under cold water and set aside.
  5. For the noodle sauce
  6. While the noodles are cooking, combine fish sauce, white vinegar, sugar, water, chili, and garlic in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved (only takes a minute or so). Remove from heat and pour into a serving bowl.
  7. For the toppings
  8. While the noodles are cooking, chop up all your toppings and set them in individual bowls or plates on the table, so that everyone can garnish their meal to their liking.
  9. Frying the beef
  10. Heat a large skillet on high and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, reduce temperature to med-high and add the shallot. Cook until it begins to soften, then add the beef in three separate batches to avoid crowding the pan. Cook beef for 1-2 minutes per side (the frying strips don't take very long to cook), then set aside on a serving dish.
  11. Bringing it all together
  12. Bring the noodles and beef to the table, and allow guests to serve themselves. Hard part's over -- now just chow down & enjoy!

Until next time!


This post was sponsored by Branding and Buzzing. At One Tough Cookie, I’m beginning to work (once in a while) with quality brands to create recipes I think my readers will enjoy. Working with sponsors gives me an opportunity to create unique, quality content more often. If you have any questions about the sponsored posts, please don’t hesitate to email me at


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3 Responses to “Vietnamese-inspired beef noodle salad”

  1. Allison June 2, 2014 at 10:24 AM #

    What a great way to use beer in a recipe! So cool! Totally summer-worthy. Love all of those flavours -really inspiring 🙂 Also, I really love your photography!

    • Alanna June 2, 2014 at 1:04 PM #

      Thanks Allison! That mango-tahini stir fry on your site looks incredible! I’ll have to give that a shot soon. Thanks for stopping by. ^_^

  2. Dan May 27, 2014 at 3:54 PM #

    must try this out as I do like both beer and noodle salad