Where did the name for these tasty little treats come from? Well, they remind me of carpaccio, not because the beef is served uncooked, but because the beef is pounded out as thin as possible in order to make it the wrapper for this take on Vietnamese-style imperial rolls. TLOML and I thought up this recipe last week after preparing Bacon-Wrapped Garlic Shrimp on the Grill http://kearbyskitchen.blogspot.com/2009/10/bacon-wrapped-garlic-shrimp-on-grill.html We love tapas, appetizers, hors d'oeuvres, meze, whatever you want to call it ... a rose by any other name, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, we love small bites with big flavors! After preparing the shrimp we were talking about how fun it would be to create a beef-based "small bite" to pair with the shrimp because everyone loves "surf and turf."
We routinely buy whole beef tenderloins from our local Asian market. The price is awesome, lately $5.99/lb. Whole beef tenderloins can also be found at many Latino markets and at Sam's and Costco stores. Unfortunately, I've never seen this cut at the regular grocery store.
There's usually a bit of "silver skin" running the length of the tenderloin on one side that needs to be carved away with a very sharp knife. Sometimes there's some extra fat that needs to be trimmed, but this is a pretty lean cut and often it has no extra fat that needs to be trimmed away. We often slice this cut into thick steaks, brine or salt them, and smoke them on the smoker/grill.
In this case we cut away the ends because one end was very thin and the other end was shaped funny. We wanted to get the center section that had a pretty consistent diameter. We put the unused tenderloin pieces into the freezer in zip top bags labeled with the cut, approximate weight, and the date, to use later. To make the beef more tender and flavorful, I brined it for a couple of hours. Brining, salting, or marinating is the easiest, cheapest thing you can do to make beef, pork, or poultry tender and tasty.
To prepare the brine, in a large stockpot bring 2 quarts of water, 3/4 cup Kosher salt, and 1/2 cup brown sugar to a boil. Stir until you're sure the salt and sugar are dissolved. Allow the brine to cool to room temperature. When cool, add the beef tenderloin portion. Add ice cubes to keep the brine at a safe temperature. If the beef isn't covered by the brine, add water as necessary. Brine the beef for 2-3 hours, checking regularly to be sure the ice is still visible and adding more ice cubes if you can't see the ice in order to maintain a safe temp.
After brining, pop the tenderloin section into the freezer for a couple of hours to make carving easier. Remove from freezer and cut into 1/4" thick slices. One at a time, put the beef slices into a zip top bag and pound thin with a flat meat mallet. The beef slices need to be very thin.
Imperial Roll Ingredients:
20 brined beef tenderloin slices, pounded very thin
2 carrots, finely shredded
1 can of water chestnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely shredded cabbage (I like Napa cabbage)
1/2 cup mung bean sprouts
several tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
several tablespoons finely chopped basil
2-3 teaspoons minced ginger
1 bunch of green onions, whites and some of the greens, sliced very thin
1/4 lb. mushrooms, chopped
Olive oil and sesame oil for sauteing
Soy-Based Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon chile oil
1 garlic clove, minced
Whisk all ingredients together.
Alternative Sauce From the Fabulous and Educational Website Vietworldkitchen.com:
Basic Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham) Ingredients:
Makes ¾ cup
3 tablespoons lime juice (1 fat, thin skin lime)
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup water
2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
1 or 2 Thai chilis, thinly sliced or 1 teaspoon homemade chili garlic sauce or store bought (tuong ot toi)
1. Make limeade. Combine the lime juice, sugar and water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Taste and ask yourself this question: Does this limeade taste good? Adjust the flavors to balance out the sweet and sour.
2. Finish with fish sauce. Add the fish sauce and any of the optional ingredients. Taste again and adjust the flavors to your liking, balancing out the sour, sweet, salty and spicy. Aim for a bold, forward finish -- perhaps a little stronger than what you'd normally like. This sauce is likely to be used to add final flavor to foods wrapped in lettuce or herbs, which are not salted and therefore need a little lift to heighten the overall eating experience. My mother looks for color to gauge her dipping sauce. When it's a light honey or amber, she knows she's close.
Advance Preparation - This sauce may be prepared early in the day and left to sit at room temperature.
Variation - Use half lime juice and half Japanese rice vinegar for a less assertive sauce. Some delicately flavored dishes require this.
Kearby's Note: Nuoc cham is one of my all-time favorite sauces. Everytime I make it I adjust all the ingredients to taste. Start with the basic recipe and then make it your own, adjusting until it tastes just right to you. I like to add fresh lime zest to my nuoc cham. Freshly sliced Thai bird chiles or Sriracha sauce or a combination works well with this sauce. A sprinkling of finely shredded carrots and red pepper flakes enhances the presentation.
Beef Roll Technique:
Combine filling ingredients. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on counter. Place one beef "carpaccio" at the end of the plastic wrap closest to you. Put a dollop of filling on the beef and roll the beef tightly around the filling. Using the plastic wrap tightly wrap and compress the beef carpaccio imperial roll. Repeat these steps until all tenderloin beef slices are filled and rolled. Refrigerate rolls to let them become firm.
Drizzle a couple tablespoons olive oil in a skillet preheated at medium to medium-high. Add a very small amount of sesame oil to the skillet. Cook the beef rolls for a couple of minutes on each side, then serve. The beef rolls can be served with either or both dipping sauces. They can also be wrapped in lettuce leaves or herbs such as basil, cilantro, or mint. Alternatively they can be wrapped in blanched cabbage leaves.