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Vietnamese Shaking Beef in Minutes + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill

Award-winning cookbook author is one of my favorite cookbook authors. Her books on Vietnamese cuisine are a joy to read and cook from and her recipe for vegan wontons is one of my favorites from this column. Her most recent book, , has perhaps become my favorite, though, because honestly I would love to eat one of the recipes every day! I chose to share the recipe for Shaking Beef here because it is simple, quick and a symphony of flavor. It also makes a perfect centerpiece to serve on your favorite platter. —Kristina

About Andrea: A bank examiner gone astray, Andrea Nguyen is living out her childhood dream of being an award-winning writer, editor, teacher, and consultant. Her impactful books — Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, Asian Dumplings, Asian Tofu, The Banh Mi Handbook, and The Pho Cookbook — have been recognized by the James Beard Foundation, International Association of Culinary Professionals, and National Public Radio for their excellence. She edited Unforgettable, a biography cookbook about culinary icon Paula Wolfert. Andrea has contributed for many publications, including the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Lucky Peach, Saveur, and Cooking Light. You can find Andrea on , , and . Visit to find out about her Vietnamese Food Any Day book events.

For a chance to win a copy of Vietnamese Cooking Any Day, respond in the comments section below by February 28, 5PM EST to the following question: Imagine that for one year you are limited to eating only one cuisine. Which would it be, and why? Which dish would you dive into first? We will announce the winner in the comments section, so be sure to check back!

Image above: Vietnamese Food Any Day. Photography by .

Image above: Andrea Nguyen

Image above: Collage of Andrea’s family photos

Image above: A spread of a selection of recipes from Vietnamese Cooking Any Day

Image above: Shaking Beef

Shaking Beef

Serves 4
Takes 30 Minutes

A deliciously quirky combo of warm cubes of seared steak atop a cool salad, this classic is traditionally considered a special-occasion dish in Vietnam, where beefsteak is a luxury. Given that, cooks cleverly cut the meat into smaller pieces to imbue it with flavor, cook it quickly, and serve it to a crowd. The name in Vietnamese, thịt bò lúc lắc, refers to the back-and-forth shaking (lúc lắc) of the skillet as the beef (thịt bò) cooks. Shaking beef is a Viet restaurant favorite, and a cinch to make at home.

For the steak, choose well-marbled pieces. When the beef hits the greens, they wilt slightly and the beef juices and dressing blend together into a tangy sauce, which is great spooned over rice or other grains.

Ingredients

  • Marinated Beef
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon recently ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, put through a press or minced and mashed
  • 1½ to 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1½ pounds beefsteak, such as bottom sirloin (tri-tip) or New York strip, trimmed and cut into ¾-to 1-inch cubes
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Salad
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion or shallot
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar or honey
  • 2 pinches fine sea salt
  • About 4 grinds black pepper
  • 1½ tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 cups lightly packed watercress, baby arugula, or other salad greens
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, basil, or other herb leaves, torn (optional)
  • 6 to 8 cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)

Preparation

1

To prepare the beef

In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, pepper, garlic, 1½ tablespoons of the oyster sauce, the soy sauce, and fish sauce. Taste and, if a saltier finish is needed, add up to 1½ teaspoons oyster sauce. Add the beef, toss to coat well, and let marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature. Keep the canola oil nearby.

To make the salad

Rinse the onion in a strainer under cold running water for about 10 seconds, then set aside. In a large bowl (suitable for tossing the salad), whisk together the sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar, and water. Add the onion, top with the watercress, and, if you wish, add the mint and tomatoes, but don’t toss.

Set a large skillet that can get very hot (such as carbon steel or cast iron) over high heat and add enough of the canola oil to film the bottom. When the oil is shimmering, carefully add the beef, spreading it out in one layer, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, shaking the pan every 30 to 60 seconds to sear the beef on all sides; it should be medium-rare. (If you want to minimize mess, cover the pan with a splatter guard, and flip the meat with a spatula.) Remove from the heat.

Quickly toss the salad and transfer everything, including the dressing, to a platter or serving dish. Pile the cooked beef and its juices on top, and serve immediately. At the table, ceremoniously combine all the ingredients and invite diners to dive in.

“Reprinted with permission from Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.” Photography credit: Aubrie Pick © 2019

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Comments

  • Anything Mediterranean, as those are my roots, and also reminds me of my Honey Moon. As for the first dish? Gnocchi with pesto, a family favourite

  • Vietnamese, of course! I love the combination of super flavorful sauces and marinades with tons of fresh herbs and crunchy veggies that is so unique to Vietnamese cooking and hits all the right flavor notes in one meal. I’ve been wanting to try this shaking beef since seeing it on the cover of Food & Wine this month, so I would dive in there!

  • I would pick “American” because, at this point, we have every cuisine reflected somewhere. A dive-in dish would have to be a pasta with fresh vegetables.

  • Growing up with a mother who cooked amazing Vietnamese food, I’ll happily say I would eat Vietnamese cuisine for a year. It’s the food I want most after I come back from travel, pho or chao when I’m not feeling well, banh mi on road trips, banh cuon, banh xeo, canh chua, I need to stop. Basically, I know I’ll never get bored. The first dish I would eat is sườn ram mặn (caramelized spare ribs) with a bowl of brown rice, a bowl of broth and sauteed water spinach. It’s easy to make, savory, sweet, and one of my many favorites. Thanks for the post and covering Andrea’s new book!

  • vietnamese, definitely – so many provinces and traditions! i think i would start with trying to wrap my head around pho. thank you!

  • One of my best friends was half-Korean and her mother made the most delicious meals. I could likely eat Korean food for at least a year (and probably more!), particularly when I think back to those days and the amazing dinners we shared.

  • Vietnamese. I have been reconnecting to my roots and loving it. My waistline doesn’t like it, too much though.

  • Vietnamese is the winner for me – I love the combination of the cooked and fresh ingredients. I am lucky to live in Berlin where there are so many good and authentic Vietnamese restaurants, so actually I could eat it everyday if I wanted….Pho bo would be the dish I would love to explore – it is the best remedy when you have a cold (better than the famous Jewish chicken soup):

  • Potatoes. And anything that goes with potatoes. Like ribs, steak, schnitzel, pork chops, grilled chicken. This maybe considered American cuisine. But I’m open to new ideas for sure.

  • Quiche. Any sort. French inspired, from years of living in Paris, but also sort of like mac and cheese. Comfort food!

  • I’d go with Mexican…so many flavors, so many varieties depending on the region! I’d start with fresh handmade corn tortillas with simple pineapple-grilled fish and lime juice.

  • I would choose Japanese cuisine because of the variety. I love sushi, yakatori, ramen, curry
    , tempura and shabu shabu. I would dive into the sashimi, first!!

  • I’d be hard-pressed to choose among the Asian cuisines. They all present such wonderful flavors combined in interesting ways. I also like the sparing use of proteins with generous vegetables.

  • Is “vegetarian” a cuisine? If so, I’d challenge myself to take that path for a year. Healthy, planet-friendly, diverse. Easy when I needed it to be, complex when I had that craving. Adaptable to all tastes, budget flexible, simple and celebratory as occasion demands. Ingredients accessible in wide range of formats — and I might even grow some of my own! First up? Something inspiring from Andrea’s repertoire — say, her vegan pho and those dumplings in the lead’s link…yum!

  • I think it would be Thai because I like spicy foods and dishes with noodles in them. There are a lot of Thai recipes that fit this bill. Vietnamese would be a close second choice!

  • Not to be biased or anything, but I am going to have to go with what I grew up loving, vietnamese cuisine.
    Now that I am a mother of two, I am desperately trying to recreate my mom’s homemade dishes, but more sustainablely and organically as possible. You can always dress vietnamese cuisine up or down. Somehow I just never get tired of eating fresh lettuce cucumbers pickled daikon a and carrots with shrimp for a quick spring roll lunch. If shrimp is not available no biggie just sub it for tofu. Our family tradition has always been pho on cold rainy days. It’s always the basic meat balls with beef flank dipping into a small dish of Sriracha and hoisin sauce. As I continue this self reflecting journey of remaking my mother’s traditional vietnamese dish, I realize just how much I love the simple yet complex, healthy yet fatty, mild yet savory tradional vietnamese dishes. And I can honestly say I will never get tired of it.

  • Vietnamese or Thai food for me. I haven’t tried a lot of different dishes yet, but I love the fresh flavors, spices, and that there are so many vegan options. I’d also love to try more Pho dishes.

  • Hard to choose between Greek/Middle Eastern, Thai, or Vietnamese. I love the fresh flavors and spices in all three, especially the vegan options in Thai and Vietnamese. I’d love to try more Vietnamese dishes, especially Pho.

  • I would pick Surinamese food. Our small country on the coast of South America, has a international cuisine. Which means I would eat everything from African to Asian, from Dutch to French.

  • I’m not trying to be biased but I would have to say vietnamese cuisine is something I would never get sick of eating. Growing up eating my mom’s home made pho and buon rieu has shaped me into an avid vegetable lover. How can you turn down a bowl of pho bo on a rainy cold day. Or a spring roll with shrimp for lunch? I took it for granted and now that I am a mother of two, I find myself trying to replicate those dishes for my kids. My approach is a more from my garden to the table. Because in return you appreciate the vegetables more instead of being so wasteful. Vietnamese dishes can be dressed up or down, make it super spicy or mild, flavorful and earthy or just simple. Vietnamese cuisine is versatile and that’s why it appeals to alot of people. I hope to inspire my daughter to love vietnamese food as much as I do.

  • Vietnamese cuisine, a union of sorts, creating harmony and intergenerational bondage. Goi cuon, Vietnamese fresh spring roll, sums it up. Perfect as a snack, light lunch or dinner. Appetising, interesting and fun platter for any gathering!

  • There are a few cuisines that jockey for the top spot in my mind (Korean, Peruvian and Vietnamese all almost made it) but Japanese wins for me because of the sheer variety, and because all of the things I crave (homey soups, salty snacks, decadence, fried food, and, conversely, fresh seasonal ingredients like grilled bamboo, cherry blossom, and an ever-rotating ocean of fish and seafood) are inherent in some type of Japanese cuisine. For the first bite, though, I can’t break the tie between marinated baby octopus and a simple, divine, chu-toro (medium fatty tuna) nigiri!

  • Japanese …and I think I would dive in beginning with the soup and not come up until I had savored each and every course.

  • The one cuisine I would eat for an entire year would be Vietnamese caramelized fish (ca kho to). This dish is the most yummy if all through my sister and my own college life. I would cooked an entire pot on Sunday and it would last till the following Sunday. I can eat this dish with rice and steam vegetables or i can have it with soup of just pumpkin. It’s healthy and basically goes with almost anything.

  • I would eat soup everyday for a year. I love the different types of soup that can be prepared and what flavors you can add or leave out depending on the profiles you want. It can be thick and creamy for cold winter nights or light and airy for a summer morning. Soup hydrates and gives you life during the cold and flu season. It is good with a piece of crusty bread and a smear of butter and eating more than one bowl is always a must.

  • I love lots of cuisine. I use to think I could eat pizza everyday, but really thinking on it no I couldn’t. But tacos I could, even a whole year, for there is alot of variety with tacos, and they are easily made. So I’d choose Mexican cuisine and my first dive would be the many combinations of tacos and heat!!!^_^

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