Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac)

Quick and tasty Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac) which you can make in less than 30 minutes!

vietnamese shaking beef or bo luc lac on large platter

Vietnamese Shaking Beef

I have very fond memories of this dish as a child. Vietnamese Shaking Beef is traditionally served with steamed rice but, unfortunately for my mother, rice was something I refused to eat as a kid (difficult situation in an Asian family!).

So whilst everyone would sit down to this dish at the table with a small bowl of rice and chopsticks, my mother would make – just for me – a small serve of homemade French fries!

It was her version of the French Steak Frites, and it was my happy place.

What is Vietnamese Shaking Beef?

Shaking Beef is a Vietnamese dish which consists of cubes of marinated beef which are quickly stir-fried and served on a bed of watercress.

Bo Luc Lac

This dish is called Bo Luc Lac in Vietnamese, which literally translates as “beef shaking”, and which refers to the motion of the wok or pan when you are cooking the beef.

The idea is to sear the meat in a super-hot pan so that the outside becomes caramelised and charred, but the meat still stays tender and medium-rare within.

vietnamese shaking beef or bo luc lac on large platter with salad leaves

Why This Recipe Works

  • You can make this dish in less than 30 minutes!
  • The beef only needs to marinate for a few minutes while you are preparing the other ingredients.
  • Shaking Beef is typically served on a bed of watercress or other salad leaves, and served alongside sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, making it a nutritious meal all around!

How to Make Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Given that the beef is the star of this dish, I recommend using a good quality cut of meat, such as rump steak, sirloin or fillet.

Ideally, you should buy your meat from the butcher so that you can buy one large piece of meat which can be cut into large cubes, measuring roughly 2 cm or 1 inch.

Cutting the beef into large cubes will mean less risk of over-cooking the meat.

When cooking the beef, the idea is to use a large wok or frying pan on very high heat to sear the beef on all sides, so that the outside becomes caramelised and slightly charred, whilst the inside of the meat should still be medium or medium-rare (however you like your beef to be cooked).

The marinade in this bo luc lac recipe contains sugar and oyster sauce, both of which will help the meat to quickly brown.

ingredients for bo luc lac

Bo Luc Lac Recipe

Most recipes for bo luc lac take less than 30 minutes to make, and my recipe is no exception.

But something my mother always did, and what I now do as well, is add a lot of freshly ground black pepper. And I mean A LOT! Chillies are not usually eaten with this dish, so if you like your food spicy, you might also want to increase the pepper to taste.

How to Serve Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Traditionally, bo luc lac is served on a bed of watercress, which is slightly bitter and peppery in taste, a bit similar to rocket or arugula.

As my children are not so fond of watercress, I like to use a mix of more common green salad leaves, but I will still mix it with watercress and/or radicchio or red endives for some bitter contrast (and in the hope that the children will, one day, get used to the more bitter salad leaves).

And as the Vietnamese are big on fresh flavours, many families will also serve bo luc lac with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers on the side.

The whole dish is served with steamed rice but, as I mentioned earlier, French fries are never a bad idea 😉

vietnamese shaking beef or bo luc lac on large platter with salad spoons

More Vietnamese Recipes

For more Vietnamese recipes, you might also enjoy:

Chicken Pho

Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup

Print

Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac)

Quick and tasty Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac) which you can make in less than 30 minutes!

  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese

Ingredients

For the marinade

For the Shaking Beef

  • 600 g (1 lb) piece of beef fillet, rump steak or sirloin
  • 12 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thickly
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • watercress or other green salad leaves
  • tomatoes, sliced thickly
  • cucumber, sliced thickly
  • steamed Jasmine rice

Instructions

  1. Place the ingredients for the marinade into a bowl which will fit the beef later.
  2. Lighty mix the marinade together.
  3. Cut the beef into large cubes, roughly 2 cm or 1 inch in size.
  4. Add the beef cubes to the marinade and mix to combine.
  5. Leave the beef to marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Slice the onions.
  7. Finely chop the garlic.
  8. Wash and spin-dry the watercress leaves or salad leaves.
  9. Place the leaves onto a large plate or platter.
  10. Heat a large wok or non-stick frying pan with some vegetable oil on very-high heat.
  11. Cook the beef in batches, using tongs to turn them so that each side of the beef cubes can brown and caramelise. Or, if you are highly skilled, you can toss the beef by shaking the pan. This should take less than 1 minute per side. Try not to over-cook the meat, otherwise it will be tough and chewy. Due to the sugar content in the marinade, there will be a lot of splatter!
  12. Once all sides of the beef cubes are nicely caramelised, remove the meat to large plate.
  13. Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Cook for about 1 minute, taking care to not burn the garlic.
  14. Return the meat to the pan, together with any juices which have collected on the plate.
  15. At this point, I like to add a generous grinding of freshly ground black pepper. But you can omit this step if you don’t like spicy food or you are feeding children.
  16. Mix or toss everything together. A bit of sauce should start to form at the bottom of the pan.
  17. Place the cooked meat on top of the salad leaves, together with any pan juices. The heat from the meat will gently wilt the salad leaves.
  18. Serve immediately.

Kitchen Notes

DIPPING SAUCE
In my family, we didn’t serve Vietnamese Shaking Beef with a dipping sauce, although a small bottle of soy sauce was never far away. But I have eaten this dish in some homes who serve it with a lime dipping sauce, which you can make by mixing together the juice of 1 lime (or lemon), 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt and 2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper.

COOKING FOR KIDS
If you are making this dish for kids, I recommend reducing the amount of pepper in the marinade. What I often do is stir-fry a small batch of beef for the kids and then set this aside for them. For the remaining beef (for the adults), I will add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper at the end of cooking.

WHICH TYPE OF SALAD TO USE
Vietnamese Shaking Beef is traditionally served on a bed of watercress. But you could also use common green salad leaves, or a mix of salad leaves.

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

Did you make this recipe?

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