We subscribe to Cooks Illustrated magazine. They usually have great recipes, which they research the optimal techniques for producing the best flavors. This one caught our eye and was one we thought we could make with the limited access to ingredients we have up here in northern Wisconsin. We did not think we could find watercress, but lo and behold, we found it!
This Vietnamese beef recipe turned out really great, but next time I will cut the pieces of beef somewhat larger and cook them for a shorter time. You want the outside brown but the inside should be a nice pink medium rare. There is some holdover cooking and you return the beef to the sauce right before serving, so err on the side of underdone. We did not have the required molasses but I knew that brown sugar was full of molasses so I added that. It helped crisp the exterior of the meat.
4 teaspoons fish sauce
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 pound sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
4 ounces watercress, torn into bite size pieces tough stems removed
1/4 cup lime juice, 2 limes
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
4 teaspoons avocado oil, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1. Whisk fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar together in medium bowl. Add beef and toss to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Spread watercress in shallow serving bowl. Combine lime juice and pepper in small bowl and set aside.
2. Using tongs, transfer beef to second medium bowl, letting as much marinade as possible drain back into first bowl. Add water, garlic, and cornstarch to marinade in first bowl and whisk to combine; set aside. Add 1 teaspoon oil to beef and toss to coat.
3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Using tongs, wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Add beef to skillet, leaving space between pieces. Cook, shaking skillet gently and occasionally to capture any fond that collects on bottom of skillet, until beef is browned on first side, 3 to 4 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring and shaking skillet frequently, until beef is coated and browned and center is just barely pink (to check for doneness, remove larger piece and cut in half), 2 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer beef to clean bowl.
4. Melt butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, about 1 minute. Add reserved marinade and bring to boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until marinade is thickened and glossy, about 2 minutes. Add beef and any accumulated juices and toss to coat. Scatter beef mixture and sauce over watercress. Drizzle 1 teaspoon lime juice mixture over salad. Divide remaining lime juice mixture among 2 small bowls for dipping and serve with salad.