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Milk Street Recipe
Milk Street Bowtie Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bò Lúc Lắc)

Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bò Lúc Lắc)

Appears in May-June 2018

30 minutes

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Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bò Lúc Lắc)

Free

The name of this Vietnamese dish refers to the way cooks shake the pan while the beef cooks. We, however, prefer to minimize the meat’s movement so the pieces achieve a nice dark, flavor-building sear. Sirloin tips (also called flap meat) or tri-tip are excellent cuts for this recipe—both are meaty, tender and reasonably priced (many recipes for shaking beef call for pricier beef tenderloin). If you can find baby watercress, use a 4-ounce container in place of the regular watercress; baby cress has a particularly peppery bite that pairs well with the beef. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

4

Servings

Tip

Don’t cut the beef into pieces smaller than 1½ inches or they may overcook. And don’t forget the lime wedges for serving. A squeeze of fresh lime juice brightens the other flavors.

30 minutes

1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin tips or tri-tip, trimmed, patted dry, cut into 1½-inch pieces
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
5 tablespoons lime juice, divided, plus lime wedges, to serve
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
8 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small red onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 bunch watercress, stemmed
Ingredients
  • pounds beef sirloin tips or tri-tip, trimmed, patted dry, cut into 1½-inch pieces

  • 3

    tablespoons soy sauce, divided

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 5

    tablespoons lime juice, divided, plus lime wedges, to serve

  • 3

    tablespoons fish sauce

  • 2

    tablespoons white sugar

  • 2

    tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided

  • 8

    medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1

    small red onion, sliced ¼ inch thick

  • 1

    bunch watercress, stemmed

Directions
  1. 01
    In a medium bowl, combine the beef, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and ½ teaspoon pepper. Toss to combine and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together 4 tablespoons of the lime juice, the fish sauce, sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce.
    See Demo
  2. 02
    In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until beginning to smoke. Swirl to coat the pan, then add the beef in a single layer. Cook without stirring until well browned, about 1½ minutes. Flip each piece and cook until the second sides are well browned, about another 1½ minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
    See Demo
  3. 03
    To the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the garlic and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook over low, stirring constantly, until fragrant and the garlic is no longer raw, about 30 seconds. Pour in the lime juice mixture and any accumulated meat juices, increase to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is syrupy, and a spoon leaves a trail when dragged across the skillet, 2 to 4 minutes.
    See Demo
  4. 04
    Add the beef and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce clings lightly to the meat, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and stir until slightly softened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
    See Demo
  5. 05
    In a medium bowl, toss the watercress with the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and ¼ teaspoon salt. Make a bed of the watercress on a serving platter. Top with the beef mixture and its juices. Serve with lime wedges.
    See Demo
    Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac)
Tip: Don’t cut the beef into pieces smaller than 1½ inches or they may overcook. And don’t forget the lime wedges for serving. A squeeze of fresh lime juice brightens the other flavors.
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Reviews
Stephen H.

This is was one of my favorite dishes in Vietnamese restaurants. I made this recipe and substituted sautéed cubed mushrooms for the beef in order to keep with a more vegetable friendly diet, and it worked really well, and the time estimates were correct. I am usually distrustful of reviews for recipes where the reviewer changes the recipe, but this one so easily converted to a vegan version, I thought it was worth a mention. Thanks for a great recipe!

Gisela H.

Per the TV show, you can substitute watercress with arugula.

Lorraine T.

Just had it for dinner a few minutes ago! Had to review immediately. AMAZING !!! Wow! So many strong distinct flavors. It was a party of flavors in my mouth! We both loved it and will do it again. It’s not as fast/easy as you state (lots of prep work), but worth the work. Rice is a must to pick up the delicious sauce. Watercress goes so well & makes it so fresh. We had it with sichuan broccoli, also very good.
Thank you!!!

Jennifer B.

excellent! I might have added a hot pepper or two, but the sauce was great.

Ana W.

This is not a very good version of this dish, at all, IMO. Excessive use of soy sauce dominates the flavor in a way that is not traditional. Vietnamese dishes use soy sauce very sparingly. Most often it’s in fact a milder tasting Maggie sauce not straight up soy. And it’s balanced with oyster sauce. I don’t know who made this up, but it looks and tastes like white people’s Interpretation of Vietnamese Food and does not match up with any real Vietnamese recipes. I am white, by the way, And only realized this after making this recipe and going “yuck” tastes like a saltlick. Look up Andrea Nguyen’s version for Bob Appetit instead For a much better balanced flavor.

Jennifer B.

Loved this. I must admit, I didn’t have limes so I just substituted a smaller amount of rice wine vinegar and the recipe was still spectacular. This is a keeper….


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Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bò Lúc Lắc)

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

30 minutes

Tip

Don’t cut the beef into pieces smaller than 1½ inches or they may overcook. And don’t forget the lime wedges for serving. A squeeze of fresh lime juice brightens the other flavors.

Ingredients
  • pounds beef sirloin tips or tri-tip, trimmed, patted dry, cut into 1½-inch pieces

  • 3

    tablespoons soy sauce, divided

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 5

    tablespoons lime juice, divided, plus lime wedges, to serve

  • 3

    tablespoons fish sauce

  • 2

    tablespoons white sugar

  • 2

    tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided

  • 8

    medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1

    small red onion, sliced ¼ inch thick

  • 1

    bunch watercress, stemmed

Step 1 of 5

Toss and coat the beef

pounds beef sirloin tips or tri-tip, trimmed, patted dry, cut into 1½-inch pieces
3
tablespoons soy sauce, divided
½
teaspoon ground black pepper
4
tablespoons lime juice
3
tablespoons fish sauce

In a medium bowl, combine the beef, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and ½ teaspoon pepper. Toss to combine and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together 4 tablespoons of the lime juice, the fish sauce, sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce.

Step 2 of 5

Cook the beef

1
tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until beginning to smoke. Swirl to coat the pan, then add the beef in a single layer.


Cook without stirring until well browned, about 1½ minutes. Flip each piece and cook until the second sides are well browned, about another 1½ minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Step 3 of 5

Add the garlic

1
tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
1
teaspoon ground black pepper

To the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the garlic and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook over low, stirring constantly, until fragrant and the garlic is no longer raw, about 30 seconds.


Pour in the lime juice mixture and any accumulated meat juices, increase to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is syrupy, and a spoon leaves a trail when dragged across the skillet, 2 to 4 minutes.

Step 4 of 5

Re-add the beef

1
small red onion, sliced ¼ inch thick

Add the beef and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce clings lightly to the meat, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and stir until slightly softened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Step 5 of 5

Toss, plate and serve

1
bunch watercress, stemmed
1
tablespoon lime juice, plus lime wedges, to serve
¼
teaspoon kosher salt

In a medium bowl, toss the watercress with the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and ¼ teaspoon salt. Make a bed of the watercress on a serving platter. Top with the beef mixture and its juices. Serve with lime wedges.

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