Three decades ago, Pauline Nguyen’s family fled war-torn Vietnam for Australia. Her parents, both chefs, became restaurateurs—a tradition she and her brother, Luke, continued when they opened Sydney’s Red Lantern. Part Vietnamese cookbook and part memoir, Secrets of the Red Lantern (Andrews McMeel) contains 275 traditional recipes interspersed with a photo-illustrated family narrative. “In my family,” Pauline Nguyen writes, “food is our language. Food enables us to communicate the things we find so hard to say.” Prepared with the help of Luke and head chef Mark Jensen, most of the recipes are fairly simple. This dish is meant to be shared as part of a larger feast.

Recipe of the week
Goi Bo (Beef, Mushroom, and Glass Noodle Salad)

Any Asian market should sell roasted rice powder and roasted peanuts.

One ½-lb sirloin steak
3½ oz bean thread noodles
¼ cup dried mushroom strips, such as wood ear mushrooms or Chinese black fungus
1 small handful mint leaves
1 small handful basil leaves
1 small handful cilantro leaves
1 small handful Vietnamese mint leaves
2 Kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
2 long red chilies, julienned
1 red onion, sliced
1 small cucumber (about 6 inches), halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/16 -inch-wide pieces
1 tsp roasted rice powder
1 tbsp chopped roasted peanuts
1 tbsp fried shallots

Beef Marinade
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Asian fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

Salad Dressing
1/3 cup grated palm sugar
¼ cup lime juice
2 tbsp Asian fish sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp chili oil
1 tbsp sliced lemongrass, white part only
1 small handful cilantro leaves
2 tbsp olive oil

To marinate beef, mix marinade ingredients in bowl, add sirloin steak, and coat well. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Soak bean thread noodles and mushrooms separately in hot water for 20 minutes; strain and dry with paper towel. Cut bean thread noodles into 1½-inch lengths and set aside. Put all salad dressing ingredients in food processor; blend to combine.

Cook sirloin to your liking on grill pan or in skillet. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then finely cut sirloin across grain into ¼-inch slices. Combine beef with rest of salad ingredients, except peanuts and shallots, in large bowl. Add dressing, then toss well to combine. Turn out salad onto serving platter. Garnish with roasted peanuts and fried shallots. Serves 4.