½ lb boneless top round, sliced as thinly as possible against the grain
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon small stalk lemongrass, very thinly sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1 jalapeños, thinly sliced (optional)
1 cup mung bean sprouts
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Pahok juice (optional)
2 tablespoons peanuts, roasted and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons sugar
3 radishes, skin slightly peeled and thinly sliced
Partly freeze the beef to make it a bit firm. This will enable easy handling and ease of thinly slicing the beef.
Combine half of the lime juice with 1 tablespoons of sugar, the lemongrass and half of the garlic in a medium bowl. Mix well, then add the beef, tossing to coat evenly, and set aside to marinate at room temperature for 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the fish sauce, water, Pahok juice (if using) and the remaining sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix until the sugar dissolves completely, then add the remaining lime juice, shallots, and the remaining garlic. Set aside.
Drain the beef, pressing gently with your hands to remove as much liquid as possible. At this point, you can either proceed with the next step, or like me, take it another step forward by bringing about 4 cups of water to a rolling boil and then add the beef to cook for just one minute. Remove and strain. Allow it to cool to the touch and press it gently to remove excess liquid.
Return the beef to the mixing bowl and add sliced radish, jalapenos, bean sprouts, mint, basil and half the chopped peanuts. Toss well. Transfer to a serving plate. Garnish the salad with sprinkles of peanut and serve.