Saba: The Cookbook – Stir-fried Beef with Cashews and Asparagus

To celebrate the Vietnamese New Year known as Tet, the lovely Paul Cadden, owner of  Saba Thai and Vietnamese Eatery on Clarendon Street Dublin, has given me a copy of Saba: The Cookbook – Inside a Thai/Vietnamese Kitchen to give away on the blog. The book traces the story of Saba and is beautifully illustrated and crammed with Thai and Vietnamese recipes, not to mention a great selection of cocktails.
Now this is the first time I’ve ever had a competition on the blog and, to be honest, I’m a teeny, weeny bit nervous. Bear with me a moment while I work up to it.
It all came about like this. The other day I was looking for help on Twitter to track down Sri Racha chilli sauce to make Kaffir Lime Chilli Prawns for Taste of China when up popped a helpful reply from @SabaDublin. So I dropped into Paul in this “happy meeting place” (that’s what the name means in Thai) for a chat.
Tet coincides with Chun Jie the Chinese Spring Festival and the Vietnamese are also marking the beginning of the Year of the Snake. Snakes are considered to be lucky in Vietnam, having a snake in the house is considered a good omen as it means your family will never starve. Hmmm… I can see certain issues with that if you’re living in Ireland.
Paul offered me the recipe for their fantastic New Year’s cocktail Dragon’s Tail from the cookbook for Taste of China. With our own little grandson Dermot having arrived in Beijing on the very tail of the Year of the Dragon, how could I resist… Try it at home or in Saba – grapefruit vodka, fresh dragon fruit and lemon juice muddled with crushed ice. You will feel as if you have been plunged back in time to colonial Hanoi. (Don’t you love that word “muddled”…)

Dragon’s Tail Cocktail

Vietnamese cuisine has been on my radar since my daughter Claire and her husband Mike went along to check out The Red Lantern in Sydney so I am keen to learn more about it and how it differs from Chinese food. I was delighted when Paul gave me a copy of Saba: The Cookbook so that I could try out some of their recipes at home and also gave me a second copy of the book to offer as a prize.
Which brings me to my first ever giveaway on the blog. As my daughter Claire would say “how exciting!!”

Win a copy of Saba’s Cookbook

How to enter:
Simply leave a brief comment here on the blog saying what is your favourite Asian recipe and why. If you can tell me were I can find the recipe better still but it’s not essential.
A few ground rules:
(and I’m making these up as I go along as I’ve never done this before but I did sneak a look at how Babaduck runs her competitions because she knows a thing or two.)

  • Entries will close at midnight on Saturday 23rd February.
  • The winner will be chosen at random by Derry using a random number generator (because I don’t trust myself to be unbiased!!).
  • I will contact the winner by email to get an address in Ireland or the UK to which I can post the book. If the winner lives further afield they will have to pay the extra postage (sorry!).
  • Only one entry per person will count in the random draw.

So join in the fun. Enter now and spread the word around by Twitter or Facebook.
And the second prize is… another copy of Saba: The Cookbook
I’ve been so delighted by the immediate response to the competition that I’ve decided to get another copy of the book and give it as a prize for the recipe I like best from those suggested a) because the proceeds of the sale of the book are for such good causes and b) because where’s the power in a random draw, I ask you! And if I get a link to the recipe itself I will even cook it for the blog after the Chinese New Year celebrations have died down. Feel free to enter more than once but only one entry per person will count in the random draw.
By the way if you don’t win the book you can buy it on the Saba website, at the restaurant, at Saba to Go or in any good bookshop. It retails for  €30 and all the proceeds go to charity – The Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin and  the Thai Red Cross Society.
When I was leafing through the cookbook, the recipe for Xao Hao Lo caught my eye because it could easily pass for a Chinese stir-fry. Paul tells me that it is one of the most popular dishes on the Saba menu and here is the recipe to whet your appetite. I cooked it last night and it was light and tasty  with a lovely crunchy texture. As it is not spicy it will suit families of all ages. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough light to get a decent photo of the finished dish.
Vietnamese Xao Hao Lo – Stir-fried Beef with Cashews and Asparagus
Serves 4

  • 450 g beef fillet, thinly sliced
  • 3 dsp sunflower oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed, chopped
  • 150 g asparagus, sliced 5 cms and par-boiled*
  • 80 g baby corn, halved and par-boiled*
  • 80 g snow peas
  • 50 g unsalted roasted cashew nuts
  • 80 g oyster mushrooms, torn
  • 2 dsp Thai soy sauce
  • 1 dsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 dsp Thai black soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 30 ml chicken stock or water


  1. Bring the wok to a medium heat. add the oil and garlic and stir until there is a good aroma.
  2. Now add the beef and stir for a minute before adding the asparagus, baby corn, snow peas and cashew nuts. Add the oyster mushrooms last and stir.
  3. Season with the soy sauce, oyster sauce, black soy sauce and sugar.
  4. Finally, add the chicken stock or water, pouring it around the edge of the wok to gather all the lovely flavours. Stir for one minute only, making sure the vegetables remain crunchy.
  5. Serve with Thai Jasmine rice.

By the way Saba also do cookery classes and, as I realised half way through cooking the dish that I don’t known the difference between Thai soy sauce and Chinese soy sauce, a cookery class which includes a guided visit to the Asia Market in search of the correct ingredients seems like a very good idea.
A big thank you for the first ever prize on my blog to Paul and the team at Saba Dublin.

22 thoughts on “Saba: The Cookbook – Stir-fried Beef with Cashews and Asparagus”

  1. What a great competition,Julie. I’m afraid I’ve only one current favourite and that’s the recipe for Hunan Crispy Chilli Beef which I’ve also adapted for chicken too. I tweak the recipe adding Pak Choi or other greens I may have to hand. The use if potato flour appeals as this dish then is completely suitable for coeliacs.

  2. Hi Julie… I absolutely adore Thai green curry…the fresh, fragrant flavours are just wonderful & light.

  3. My favourite is Cambodian- Amok. It’s a mild curry, with coconut milk and galangal and usually made with Fish but is equally good with chicken- the recipe is in my South East Asian cookbook that I’ll happily lend you 🙂

  4. Gok Wan’s crispy Peeking duck with your adapted dipping sauce. Who doesn’t love duck pancakes! It made me feel like a proper chef and friends were impressed.

  5. my favourite Asian recipe is a thai Massman curry – I use the recipe on the back of the thai gold massman curry paste and its yum!

  6. Fuschia Dunlop’s Spicy Tofu and Blackbean Sauce from the book Every Grain of Rice. The only drawback is my meat eating friends stealing my dish!

  7. some many choices.. cant beat a good thai green curry although as im usually too lazy to make it my current quick to through together dish would be chicken with soy, chilli & basil with lots of veg and noodles

  8. Cha ca (friend fish with tumeric and dill), a delicous combination of white fish with tumeric, dill and spring onions, the nuoc cham dipping sauce that accompanies it provides a spicy contrast – I literally can’t eat it fast enough when I cook it!
    A vietnamese recipe from Rick’s Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey

  9. I am a simple lady and discovered an amazing stir fry in Gok Wan’s book, the secret ingredient… cucumber! Who knew cucumber could add so much to a stir fry! Delicious

  10. I was very lucky to spend 3 weeks in Hong Kong in 1994 while my Hubs was working there, and it was Chinese New Year so a fantastic time to visit. We both quickly became very adept at using chopsticks, we’d no choice! Our previous knowledge of Chinese food was the local take away and fullmof MSG. One night we were in a non English speaking Chinese restaurant and were handed a menu in Chinese. We hadn’t a clue so we looked around at what others were eating and spied a meal that looked interesting, seemed to involve lots of dishes and, not having a clue what we were ordering we pointed to it – I now know it was crispy aromatic Peking duck, not only did we love it then it is still our favourite and despite cooking Chinese dishes since its one I’ve never attempted so sadly have no recipe.
    A fantastic competition Julie with a fantastic prize

  11. I have many favorites but I have to say Muc Rang Muoi (Salt +Pepper Squid) has a place in my special place in my heart! I first had in my local Vietnamese restaurant in Sydney back in 2002. Yes, the Red Lantern was my local! What a great place to learn about Vietnamese food. My joy when I discovered SABA do a great version of it!

  12. OMG the Salt and Pepper Chilli fried squid in the Red Lantern was my introduction to Vietnamese food too! Loved it so much that I spent a week in Vietnam a year later! Bo Luc Lac is a firm favorite!

  13. I love Pad Thai it is one of my favourite dishes. It reminds me of a wonderful time spent in vietnam and thailand. It’s wonderfully easy to make too.

  14. Gonna be cheeky here and say my fav food is Vietnamese Xao Hao Lo )Stir-fried Beef with Cashews and Asparagus) but that’s it caught your eye and I’m hoping to emulate you!
    That said in all honesty my knowledge of Asian cuisine is terrible. I need a proper book to learn from and of course your own blog will be my forever bible too!
    Does this count as an entry?? I hope so!

Comments are closed.