Bo Luc Lac | Vietnamese Shaking Beef

Happy Monday! Here’s to another week. It’s suppose to storm this week in California and I’m ready for it.

I wanted to share a special recipe today, Shaking Beef also known as Bo Luc Lac. This dish was my absolute favorite growing up. Since I’ve learned how to make it myself, I’ve made it so many times with many versions to see what our family liked most, and it always came back to the simplest version. A lot of recipes use oyster sauce which I’ve used also, but our family just preferred this dish without it. Feel free to explore different recipes and try different versions and see what fits you and your family’s taste best!

For the meat, since I make this fairly often, I typically use flap meat from Costco. It’s cheaper than ribeye and filet mignon but it still works for us. If you’re making this for the first time or if your budget allows, get yourself a nice ribeye or filet, you won’t regret it! But for me, I just use flap meat and it works. This dish is all about how tender the beef cubes are. I think tenderness is even more important that flavor for Shaking Beef. If you do get flap meat, get the best quality you can get. Costco has always been pretty good for us. I’ve learned that adding a little oil and cornstarch while the meat is marinating helps produce a more tender product. I do think the oil and cornstarch has to go in after the rest of the ingredients are mixed. I don’t know why, but that’s what I found worked the best.

You have to serve this dish with a fresh salad. The crisp greens goes very well with the flavorful beef cubes. Watercress is very authentic with the dish, but any lettuce will do. I have done romaine and butter leaf lettuce and enjoyed it both. You can also add onions and sweet bell peppers to the frying for some more color and vegetables if you prefer. The possibilities are endless once you have the basics of it. So here is my recipe and I hope you enjoy it.

Have a great week!

Bo Luc Lac
1 Lb beef cut in to 1 inch cubes
1 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs soy sauce
1/2 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt and black pepper
1/2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs minced garlic
1/2 tsp corn starch

For the Salad
6 cups watercress
1 cup thinly slice red onion
2 tomato, sliced into pieces (2 cups tomatoes)
5 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3  tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp black pepper

Add beef, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, salt and pepper to a bowl and mix.
Add half of the garlic and 1/2 tbsp oil and mix.
Add cornstarch and mix. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare you salad.
Combine vinegar, oil, salt, sugar, black pepper.
Add sliced onions to the vinegar dressing
Toss watercress with dressing and arrange on plate.
Add tomatoes slices.

Heat pan over med-high heat
Add 1 tbsp oil
Add beef
Sear 1 side for 1 minute
Turn over sear other side
Add garlic cook for another 2-3 minutes
Transfer to serving plate on top of salad
Enjoy with a salt and pepper lime dipping sauce and rice!

I leave you with some beautiful flowers from this weekend that greeted me whenever I walked out to my kitchen. I’m learning to appreciate the value of balance and aesthetics. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and while aesthetic is not everything in life, it is important because it can create a mood, a feeling, an inspiration that can impact that very moment in your day or even in your life.

Vietnamese Beef Stew || Bo Kho

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There are a handful of dishes I consider Vietnamese comfort food, Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) is one of them. Aromatic, savory, full of flavor, it’s one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes in general. I’m sure every family has their own recipe and preference of how to make it and eat. Some enjoy it with rice noodles while others prefer having it along side toasty french baguette. I have grown up with the latter, enjoying this stew with a nice crusty piece of bread to soak up the aromatic robust broth. We already had Hawaiian Rolls at home so we just had the rolls, but definitely get the baguettes if you can. My parents have always used the packet of pre-made marinade/seasoning found at any Vietnamese or Chinese grocery store, but over the years I developed my own recipe that I feel taste just as good and dare I say better than using the pre-made packet seasoning. It’s a recipe that I’m pretty proud of!

Like most recipes, you still have to adjust seasonings according to your preference, but the basis of the recipe will result in an extremely flavorful, deep broth for a delicious Bo Kho. Traditionally, Vietnamese beef stew is made with beef shank and tendon. I’m not a huge fan of tendon and I find using beef chuck gives me the most tender and soft meat, so I always use beef chuck, but you can definitely use shank and tendon if you want! With this recipe, simmering for 2 hours is the minimum, the longer you can let it simmer the better. I think it even tastes better the next day. This recipe makes enough for my husband, me, and my daughter, but she’s 3, so she doesn’t count as a full portionūüėõ,¬†with a little left over for the next day. If you’re making this for at least 4 adults (and you want leftovers) I would double the recipe. The herb that typically gets served with this stew is Thai Basil, but I really enjoy eating an herb called Tia To, a Vietnamese Perilla. Also¬†don’t forget a slice of lime for a little tang. The citrus cuts the richness of the broth very nicely.

Bo Kho Recipe (about 4 servings)
2-3 lb beef chuck cut into 1.5 – 2 inch pieces
1.5 Tbs annatto seeds
¬ľ cup olive oil
1 yellow onion cut into slices
1 Tbs of minced garlic
4 large carrots cut into 2 inch pieces
2  Tbs frozen lemon grass or 3 stalk of fresh lemon grass bruised
1  Tbs grated frozen ginger or 3 slices of fresh ginger
3 ounce of tomato paste
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbs five spice powder
2 tsp curry powder
¬Ĺ¬† Tbs paprika
1 tsp sugar
¬Ĺ tsp salt
1 Tbs fish sauce
1-2 cups coconut juice or water
4 cups beef broth, chicken broth, or water

  1. In a small pan heat olive oil and annatto seeds until color has bled and oil is red about 1 minute. Remove seeds and keep oil.
  2. Marinate beef with ¬Ĺ tbs of fish sauce, garlic, onion, salt, five spice powder, curry powder, paprika and 1 tbs of the annatto oil.¬† Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or¬†preferably¬†overnight.
  3. In a large pot add in about 2 Tbs of annatto oil over medium heat, add lemon grass, star anise and cinnamon stick, ginger and stir until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  4. Add meat and brown for about 1 minute on each side.
  5. Add carrots, coconut juice, broth and more water (if necessary) until meat is covered by about 1 inch.
  6. Add tomato paste and bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for 2 hours until meat is tender.  Add rest of fish sauce and adjust seasonings if needed.
  7. Serve with Thai Basil or Vietnamese Perilla and lime.
    IMG_5468Beautiful red annatto oilIMG_5469IMG_5476IMG_5478

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    This broth is packed with flavor.

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    Enjoy!