Vietnamese Beef and Celery in Tomato Sauce

My beef and celery in tomato sauce is a variation of a popular Vietnamese rice dish that can be whipped up in under 15 minutes. It is basically pan fried strips of beef and celery topped with a can of tomatoes. Incredibly simple and easy, this recipe is comfort food that is perfect for a midweek dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day.

There have been so many times that I have wanted to start of a post with “Today’s post is going to be quick and short!” I never go through with it because I tell myself not to be lazy! But this week is different. I have a fair few things on my plate and have much less time than usual to get things done. So today is the day I say, let’s just get straight to it!

Vietnamese Beef and Celery in Tomato Sauce

My Tips for Success

  1. Make sure you have all ingredients prepped beforehand, as the cooking time needs to be fast.
  2. If you’ve got a cheaper cut of beef steak then it’s worth tenderising it first. To do this, add 1/2 tsp of baking soda and rub it into the meat. Cover with cling wrap and leave for 20 minutes. Then wash the meat thoroughly with water and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Remember to cut the beef against the grain. This will help it be more tender and delicious.
  4. Do not discard the celery leaves since they are great for this recipe. Chop them up and put them in during the cooking phase or as a garnish.
  5. Use this recipe as a base and adjust it accordingly. Ingredients like can tomatoes are not all the same. It is very likely you will have to adjust the amount of sugar added to this recipe to counteract the acidity. Also, if you are looking for more depth of flavour or seasoning, consider adding more fish sauce or even some beef stock powder. So, adjust whatever you need to suit your preference since comfort food is all about being tailored to your taste!

Vietnamese Beef and Celery in Tomato Sauce Ingredients

Recipe Costings

This table shows how much this recipe will cost if you had to go out and buy everything on the ingredients list (“Shop Price”), as well as the value of ingredients actually used in the recipe (“Recipe Cost”).

We haven’t bothered with small quantities of salt, pepper or sugar as the cost would be negligible. All prices are in Australian dollars and are based off what was published on Coles Online or Woolworths Online as at time of writing.

Serving size: 2 – 3 people

Ingredient Quantity Bought Shop Price Recipe Needs Recipe Cost
Canola oil 750 ml bottle $2.25 1 tbsp (15 ml) $0.04
Garlic 1 bulb at $25/kg $1.50 2 cloves $0.30
Brown Onion 1 at $2.90/kg $0.52 1/2 $0.26
Beef Steak 425 gm at $20/kg $8.50 200 gm $4.00
Celery 1 bunch (900 gm) $5.50 100 gm $0.61
Crushed Tomatoes 1 can (400 gm) $1.20 400 gm $1.20
Fish Sauce 300 ml bottle $3.00 1 tbsp $0.15
Total $22.47 $6.81

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Vietnamese Beef and Celery in Tomato Sauce

Vietnamese Beef and Celery in Tomato Sauce

Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Vietnamese
Keyword Beef and Celery in Tomato Sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 - 3 people
Author Scruff


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 brown onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 200 gm beef steak, cut into thin strips (whatever cut you can afford)
  • 1/8 tsp salt, or a good pinch
  • cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (400 gm)
  • 100 gm celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar


  1. Prepare all your ingredients.

  2. Heat a fry pan over high heat, then add the oil. Fry the onion and garlic for 30 seconds.

  3. Add the beef, salt and pepper. Fry until nearly all brown. (1-2 minutes).

  4. Add the celery to the pan and fry for 1 minute. 

  5. Add the crushed tomatoes, fish sauce and sugar. Stir until combined and the sauce is bubbling. 

  6. Check the seasoning of your sauce. If it needs more salt / flavour then add more fish sauce. If the sauce is too tangy, add more sugar.

  7. Serve with rice.

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