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Vietnamese Shaking Beef in Minutes + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill

Award-winning cookbook author Andrea Nguyen 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, Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors, 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 Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Visit Vietworldkitchen.com 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 Aubrie Pick.

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.


  • 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)



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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