Vietnamese shaking beef

Vietnamese shaking beef

Bò lúc lẩc

Street Food Asia
4 a s part o f a shared meal
Alan Benson

After one of my epic Cô Giang food crawls, I always end up where the street intersects with Đe Thám. Here, you’ll find one of the busiest and biggest street food stalls in the vicinity. They’ve got three wok cooks, right on the street, generating lots of fire and smoke and hissing sounds; it’s ultra-high energy, the place is always pumping and you cannot miss it. I either order their crisp egg noodles or this dish, called ‘shaking beef’ in English. It’s a simple stir-fry, but the secret to its success is an extremely hot wok. Your wok needs to be so hot that when you add your cubes of beef, they immediately become engulfed in flame. Don’t worry, the flames die down pretty quickly, by which time they’ve imparted the smoky, charred flavours (or ‘breath of the wok’) essential to this dish, without which it would be a bit ordinary. The best way to cook it at home is in small batches, rather than the full recipe all at once, so you don’t crowd the wok. And please don’t cook the beef past medium or it won’t taste very good at all.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
500g beef sirloin, cut into 1.5 cm cubes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1/2 small onion, cut into 1.5 cm cubes
50g salted butter
coriander sprigs, to garnish
1 quantity Salt-baked chicken in a wok, Soy & chilli dipping sauce
steamed jasmine rice or vietnamese baguette, to serve


  1. Combine the oyster sauce, sesame oil, sugar and 1 tablespoon of hot water in a mixing bowl. Add the beef and toss until well coated, then cover and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat a large wok over a high heat until smoking hot, then add the vegetable oil. Remove the beef from the marinade, add it to the wok and stir-fry for 1 minute, until sealed and charred on all sides. (If you don’t have a large wok, cook the beef in two batches – this will ensure that the heat stays at a constant high temperature so that the beef doesn’t stew.)
  3. Add the garlic, onion and butter to the wok and stir-fry for a further 2 minutes. Season with a pinch each of sea salt and black pepper, then garnish with coriander. Serve with the soy and chilli dipping sauce and steamed jasmine rice or crisp Vietnamese baguettes.
South-East Asian
Street Food
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