Vietnamese shaking beef or thit bo luc lac

Monday, March 23, 2015

Growing up in Vietnam, the only beef I remember eating was from pho.  Other than that, luxurious beef dishes like shaking beef (thit bo luc lac) were reserved for the rich since quality cuts of beef were quite expensive in the post Vietnam war era.  Back then I doubt Vietnamese people even knew what wagyu is.  It wasn’t until we moved to the US that my mom began cooking thit bo luc lac for us given its affordability.  

To this day, thit bo luc lac is one of my favorite beef dishes.  The term “luc lac” stands for the movement of the beef or “shaking” as they are quickly seared in the wok.  So no you don’t get dancing beef or quivering beef when the dish arrives at your dinner table.  Many Vietnamese restaurants serve thit bo luc lac with sauteed onions, lettuce, tomato, and red rice or on a bed of watercress.  I prefer the latter because watercress with its peppery and refreshing taste lends a nice contrast to the deeply flavored beef.  For those who are willing to shell out money for filet mignon, you will get super succulent and flavorful thit bo luc lac.  I usually stick to sirloin and it stills turn out quite tender and delicious.  Whatever way you like your shaking beef, enjoy!     

Thit bo luc lac (Vietnamese shaking beef)
1 lb of beef (sirloin cut), cut into ½ inch cubes
1 tbsp soy sauce (Maggie brand)
3 tbsp oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand)
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 cup of red onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch of watercress, washed and cleaned with tough stems removed

Dipping sauce
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp fresh lime juice

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, water, and sugar until well combined.
2. Add the cubed beef and pepper to the marinade.  Toss to combine and let stand in refrigerator for an hour.  (If you’re hungry and can’t wait, 30 minutes will suffice.)
3. When ready to cook, heat a wok over high heat.  Add two tablespoons of olive oil around the top of the wok, letting it run down the side and into the middle of the wok.  Add half of the beef to the wok in a single layer and sear for 3 minutes.  Shake and toss the beef in the wok and cook for another minute or two. The beef should be seared on all sides.  Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
4. Add the rest of olive oil and repeat with the remaining beef.  
5. While the wok is still hot, add the garlic and onion and continue to stir fry until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and onion to the beef and toss to combine.
6. When ready to serve, arrange the watercress on a plate and top with the beef.
7. For the dipping sauce, stir together salt, pepper, and lime juice.
8. Serve the shaking beef with dipping sauce and rice. 

Cook’s note: cook the beef to your liking but try not to overcook the meat.  Medium-rare should take 3-5 minutes.  You also don’t need to dress the watercress because the sauce from the beef already adds so much flavor to the dish.


  1. This dish looks wonderful! We don't eat a lot of beef so when we do I like to make something a little different with it!

    1. hi Ashley. We don't eat a lot of beef either but this is definitely of our favorite beef dishes. Sometimes, I skip the rice and eat it as a salad. Hope you like it!