Sizzling Shaken Beef (Bo Luc Lac)

I love this salad with the hot savory beef, slightly spicy watercress, fresh tomatoes and tangy pickled red onions.  The combination is absolutely mouth-watering and it’s such a snap to make.  Try it as a cold salad too; it’s really good!  As long as the steak is cooked properly (see tips below), it will still be tender even if served cold.

Selecting the right cut of beef can make or break this dish so choose a tender cut.  My favorite choice is flank steak for this dish.  If you want to splurge, filet mignon is the way to go.  I’ve used various cuts of sirloin in the past but find it to be a bit tough and not the best option.  When cutting the meat, make sure to keep the pieces bit-sized, approximately  3/4 inch cubes.  In this recipe, we cook the beef really fast to a rare/medium rare and so need the pieces to be small.

Another tip is to cook the beef in small batches and over very high heat.  Have you ever noticed when stir-frying a big batch of beef the meat juices seeping out leaving the meat dry and leathery?  This is mostly the results of cooking too much beef in the wok at the same time and cooking it for too long.  The key is to cook in smaller batches so there’s more hot pan in contact with the meat.  We also cook the beef very quickly over very high heat effectively searing the meat and sealing in the juices.

The recipe would not be complete without mentioning a little bit about the name.  Some words are lost in translation and the name of this dish is a good example.  A lot of people refer to this dish as “Shaking Beef”.  Of course, the “shaking” refers to the way we cook the beef.  We “shake” the pan moving the beef back and forth.  If you’re really good, you can toss and flip the beef instead of stir frying with chopsticks.  (Good luck with that!)  The word “shaking” makes me giggle because I imagine a quivering cow scared for his life because he’s about to become dinner.  I call this dish Sizzling “Shaken” Beef.  Does that mean the cow is already disturbed and agitated?  Like I said, lost in translation.  Perhaps the appropriate word for this cooking method is sauté and we should call it “Sautéed Beef”.  Well, whatever the name, call it delicious!  I hope you enjoy the recipe.

Watch the video below for instructions.


1 lb flank steak or filet mignon

2 tsp sugar
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Vodka 5-Spice Marinade
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper

1 bunch watercress
1 ripe tomato

Pickled Onions:
1/2 red onion
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp distilled vinegar
1 Tbsp water

3 tsp vegetable oil
3 tsp minced garlic


Cut the beef into strips about finger width and then cut into small bite-sized pieces, about 3/4 inch cubes.  Put into a medium bowl.

To marinate the beef, add sugar, minced garlic, vegetable oil, Vodka 5-Spice Marinade, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce and black pepper.  Combine well.  Cover and allow to marinate while continuing with next steps.

Wash watercress thoroughly and shake off excess water.  Pluck just tender greens discarding the tougher stems.  Slice tomato into thin round slices.  Place tomatoes on a large plate and layer watercress on top.

Cut the onion into thin round slices.  Separate the onion rings.  Place in a small bowl and add sugar, vinegar and water.  Toss together until sugar is dissolved.  Set aside.

Heat a medium wok over high heat.  (Make sure the wok is really hot.)  Add 1 tsp vegetable oil plus 1 tsp minced garlic and stir fry quickly for 5 seconds.  Add 1/3 of the beef and stir fry quickly for 2-3 minutes for rare-medium rare.  Optionally move the wok quickly back and forth to “shake” the beef.  Flick the wok to toss the beef.  Remove beef from wok and put on a separate plate.  Repeat the process for the remaining 2 batches.

To serve, spoon beef on top of watercress and tomato salad.   Add pickled onions on top.  Serve hot!

Yields:  2-4 servings

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