Vietnamese-inspired shaking beef

A fast and flavourful meal!

This salty-sour-sweet stir-fry, known as bò lúc lắc in Vietnamese, purportedly got its Anglicized name from the cooking method, which involves frequent shaking of the pan while browning the meat. Because the meat is marinated and the vegetables chopped in advance, this is a dish that comes together at mealtime very quickly so don’t be daunted by the length of this recipe – I just like to make the instructions as clear as possible. If you wish to add a little heat to the dish, a few pinches of dried chili peppers added to the rice vinegar mixture near the end of the cooking time would work well. You can also opt to serve the beef and vegetables over rice, if you prefer. If you’re looking for a pleasing wine pairing for this dish, I highly recommend Le Loup Blanc vineyard’s Soif de Loup Rouge 2019. A Pays d’Oc IGP wine from the south of France. It’s a balanced blend of Cabernet and Syrah that boasts bright fruit flavour with pleasant spiciness and floral notes. If you like the flavours and textures of Vietnamese food, you might also enjoy this fun and delicious Bánh mì salad.



  • 1 lb (454 g) beef ribeye, cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) cubes
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons (5.6 g) minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (5 g) cornstarch
  • vegetable oil, for cooking

Sautéed vegetables:

  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, cut in 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, cut in 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 1 green onion, cut into 1″ (2.55 cm) pieces

To finish

  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) white wine
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) butter, cut in four pieces
  • 4 cups (280 g) washed and chopped watercress, lettuce or tender cabbage (or a combination)
  • 1 lime, in wedges
  • 1 teaspoon (7 g) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (2.3 g) pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (9 g) toasted sesame seeds


  • First, tenderize the beef. Put 1.5 cups (375 mL) of water in a bowl and stir in the baking soda. Add the cubes of meat to the bowl and stir. Place in the fridge and let sit at least 20 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  • Drain meat and rinse in cool water. Dry bowl and pat excess water off beef with paper towel. Return the beef to the bowl. Whisk together marinade ingredients (soy sauce, minced garlic, 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil and sugar) and drizzle over beef. Toss to coat evenly then cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour or up to 6 hours. 
  • Before cooking, drain off the marinade and pat the beef cubes dry with paper towel. Place the beef in a plastic bag and sprinkle cornstarch over top. Twist bag to close then shake gently so meat is evenly coated with cornstarch.
  • Cook the vegetables immediately before cooking the beef. Heat about 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of oil in a wok or large sauté pan placed over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add the onions and bell peppers to the pan. Sauté, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, until onions are beginning to soften. Remove from heat and stir in the green onions. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a clean dish and cover to keep warm.
  • In the same pan you used for the vegetables, heat about 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of oil over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add some of the beef to the pan, ensuring there is lots of room between the pieces of beef so they will brown thoroughly on all sides.
  • Let sit, undisturbed, for at least 2 minutes so a brown crust forms on one side of the beef cubes; when this has happened, shake the pan vigorously so additional sides of the meat cubes come in contact with the bottom of the pan. When meat is thoroughly browned (about 5 minutes of cooking and shaking time), transfer to a clean dish and cook remaining pieces. Depending up on the size of your pan, you may need to cook the meat in 2, 3 or even 4 batches, adding a bit more oil to the pan as needed for each batch.  
  • Once all the beef is cooked, return it to the sauté pan along with the cooked vegetables. Over medium-low heat, stir gently to reheat everything for about two minutes.
  • While mixture is reheating, whisk together the rice vinegar, white wine, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar. Drizzle over the meat and vegetables, then add the four tiny pats of butter and stir just until melted.
  • Combine salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
  • To serve, divide the greens among two serving plates. Top with beef and vegetables, spooning pan juices over top. Sprinkle with combined salt and pepper, to taste, and squeeze lime juice over top. Scatter with sesame seeds and serve hot.

Serves 2; recipe can easily be multiplied.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

2 thoughts

    1. I can’t take credit for it but it is a great name, apparently inspired by the vigorous shaking of the pan while the beef is searing (which, of course would be a huge effort in a large and busy restaurant).

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