Growing up, the Lam household was a meat-eating household and beef was often the meat of choice. Of course, weekend mornings often included pho or Vietnamese beef stew (bo kho) and on Sundays, dinner would be steak, pan-fried noodles with beef, or tableside grilled beef. During the weekdays my mother would often marinate flanken style short ribs and I would be in charge of grilling them while doing homework at the dining room table or kitchen counter. There were also many times when my mom would make thit bo luc lac, or shaking beef, which was a favorite among the Lam siblings. Honestly, my brothers enjoyed shaking beef more than I did and while I didn’t mind eating it from time to time, I would have much preferred a grilled steak.
Now that I am fending for myself in the real world, shaking beef is one of my go to weekday meals. Although cutting up a wonderful piece of steak tears at my heart a little, I like the ability to portion out servings and pack the leftovers for lunch. Other than some marinating time (which can be done the night before) the dish takes less than 30 minutes to make. The key to making this dish is to keep the wok or pan incredibly hot so that the beef sears quickly. It is also important to sear the beef in batches so the pan can remain hot, but if I’m lazy I just throw all the beef in. What makes this dish especially great is a lime and pepper dipping sauce that adds a nice tartness to contrast with the sweet and vinegary beef. You can serve this over watercress, but I like it with just a bowl of white rice.
Shaking Beef (Thit Bo Luc Lac)
1 lb. beef tenderloin, New York strip, or rib eye, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
6 tablespoons canola oil
7 teaspoons sugar
4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt, to taste
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
3 scallions, cut to 1″ lengths
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Toss the beef with 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 2 teaspoons pepper in a large bowl and season with salt. Cover bowl and set aside to let marinate at room temperature for one hour, or refrigerate overnight. Let beef come to room temperature before searing.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of sugar, and fish sauce to make a vinaigrette. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar and pepper with lime juice to make the dipping sauce. Season with salt and set aside.
Drain beef, pat dry with paper towels, and discard marinade. Working in batches, heat 2 tablespoon of oil in a flat-bottomed wok or large nonstick skillet over high heat. When oil begins to smoke, add about half of the beef. Cook, flipping once, until well browned and medium rare, about 3-4 minutes. Remove beef and place on plate. Repeat with remaining beef.
Return all of the beef to the skillet. Add scallions, garlic and red onions and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, 30 seconds. Add vinaigrette and butter; toss to combine. Serve with rice and lime dipping sauce.