In Thai cuisine, fish sauce is a common ingredient used to salt foods. In this beef recipe, it seasons the Nam Prik, Thailand's version of bottled hot pepper sauce.
For Nam Prik, if using dried peppers, wear rubber gloves to cut open dried red chili peppers. Discard stems and seeds; cut up peppers. Place peppers in bowl and cover with boiling water. Let peppers stand for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain. In a blender container combine soaked peppers or crushed red pepper; the 1/4 cup water; the lemon juice; soy sauce; cooking oil; fish sauce or nuoc cham; and garlic cloves. Cover and blend until mixture is nearly smooth. Set aside.
Trim fat from beef. Partially freeze beef. Thinly slice across grain into bite-size strips. Set aside.
Pour cooking oil into a wok or large skillet. (Add more oil as necessary during cooking.) Preheat over medium-high heat. Stir-fry broccoli in hot oil for 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove broccoli from the wok.
Add half of the beef to the hot wok. Stir-fry for 2 to 3 mintues or to desired doneness. Remove beef from the wok. Repeat with remaining beef. Return all beef to the wok.
Stir Nam Prik; add to the center of the wok. Return broccoli to the wok. Stir all ingredients together to coat with Nam Prik. Bring to boiling. Cover and cook 1 mintue more or until heated through. Serve immediately with hot cooked rice. Garnish with chili pepper, if desired. Makes 4 servings.