Serves 4
In Vietnam we like the soft texture of celery leaves more than the crunchy stalks, which we rarely eat. But this UK- and North America-friendly recipe uses the stalks. When you use a wok, the heat rises up the sides to maximize contact with the vegetables, plus the fragrance of caramelized garlic and onion is folded back into the food. If you don't have a wok, use a deep saucepan rather than a frying pan. 

  • 14 ounces/400 g sirloin steak
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon gia vi (or a mix of 2 parts sugar, 1 part sea salt, 1 part ground black pepper, 1 part garlic powder)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic, divided
  • 2 teaspoons chopped shallot
  • 6 celery stalks 
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
Slice the beef as thinly as you can and place the slices in a shallow dish.

In a small bowl, combine the pepper, gia vi, sugar, 2 teaspoons of the garlic, shallot, and 2 tablespoons of the oil and pour the mixture over the sliced beef, tossing to coat. Cover the dish and leave it in the fridge for 15 to 25 minutes.

Cut the celery into 1/2-inch/1-cm slices.

Heat the remaining oil in a wok or deep-sided, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of garlic and stir vigorously until the oil is fragrant. Stir in the beef and flash-fry for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the sliced celery and continue to stir for a couple more minutes, depending on how you like your beef cooked. The celery should still be very crisp. Serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from The Vietnamese Market Cookbook © 2014 by Van Tran and Anh Vu, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.