Shaking beef, also known as “Bò lúc lắc”–meaning sautéed dried beef–is a French-inspired Vietnamese dish that my entire family loves. The name Vietnamese name literally translates to “shaking beef,” which is the main cooking method for this incredibly easy and tasty dish. Beef was once considered a luxury delicacy or celebratory dish in Vietnamese cuisine, typically reserved for special occasions such as weddings. My family’s love of this dish will forever be connected to a favorite restaurant of ours in Northern California called Tamarine.
This dish could not be easier to make, but requires two important steps during preparation: (1) a long marinade time and (2) high heat cooking. These two simple things will literally make-or-break the dish. This is not my recipe, it is Marcia Kissel’s. I first discovered it in Food & Wine Magazine. To me and my family, this recipe is perfect and the closest to our local favorite. Although I have not been to Vietnam, I’ve been told that there, this dish is prepared with a tough cut of meat. In North America, a tender cut such as filet is typically used, as is the case in this recipe. In all honesty, many cuts of meat would work well here depending on your preference. Tri-tip bottom and sirloin are easy go-tos.
- For the Meat:
- 2 pounds beef tenderloin, cut into 1–inch cubes
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons medium-dry sherry
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for cooking
- For the Vinaigrette:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 lemongrass stalk, lower third of the bulb only, minced
- For the Salad:
- 6 ounces watercress (10 packed cups)
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- Step 1 For the Meat: In a large bowl, combine the garlic, sherry, soy sauce, sugar, pepper, and five-spice powder with 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the beef and turn to coat thoroughly with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
- Step 2 For the Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce with the vegetable oil, sherry, red wine vinegar, minced ginger, sugar, garlic and lemongrass. Let stand for 30 minutes, stirring a few times.
- Step 3 For the Salad: Place the watercress and red onion on a platter and toss with half the vinaigrette.
- Step 4 Set two large skillets over high heat until very hot, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to each skillet, when shimmering, add the meat to both skillets in an even layer. Let cook undisturbed until richly browned on the bottom, about 1 1/2 minutes. Shake the skillet to release the meat and cook for about 30 seconds longer, until medium-rare. Scrape the beef onto the watercress. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette, toss lightly and serve right away.