Vietnamese Lamb Salad

From Matthew Altizer, catering chef at The Cookbook Co. Cooks.

2012 Jul/Aug

The general rule when using fresh chiles is that the smaller the pepper, the hotter it will be. Most of the heat of the chile is kept in the seeds and the white membrane, so remove it if you don’t want the salad to be too spicy.


  • 1 lamb loin, (approx. 1/2 lb.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 T. grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 T. fish sauce
  • 1 T. palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 T. rice vinegar
  • 1 t. light soy sauce
  • 2 large handfuls of arugula
  • 2 T. each, roughly chopped mint, dill and basil
  • 1 small Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1 small red chile, finely sliced
  • 1/4 c. fried shallots


Season the lamb well with salt and pepper. Preheat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil and sear the lamb well on all sides, turning often. The lamb will take about 10 to 12 minutes to be medium rare. Remove the lamb from the pan onto a plate and let it rest while you prepare the dressing. While the pan is still warm, add the garlic, fish sauce, palm sugar, rice vinegar and soy sauce. Scrape any bits of lamb off the bottom of the pan and into the dressing. Place the arugula, herbs and cucumber onto a large serving platter. Pour any juices that have come out of the lamb into the dressing, taste for seasoning and slice the lamb into bite sized chunks and scatter them over the salad. Finish with a sprinkling of red chile and fried shallots.

Serves 2 as a main.