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Shaking Beef

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Shaking beef is a light and delicious Vietnamese beef salad you can make in minutes.

 You will find many different versions of shaking beef but this is my go-to recipe. Whether you want to serve up an amazing Vietnamese feast or you just want to enjoy a good salad on a summer day, this recipe is for you. I first tried it in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and it has been a favourite at our house ever since. Although it’s normally served with the beef on top of watercress or rocket leaves, I prefer to serve the salad on the side. That one is down to you though. 

This shaking beef recipe goes really well with jasmine rice.

Shaking beef

What is shaking beef?

Shaking Beef, or “Bò Lúc Lắc” in Vietnamese, is a mouthwatering dish that hails from the beautiful country of Vietnam. With its tender cubes of marinated beef, aromatic herbs, and a delightful salt, pepper and lime dipping ‘sauce’, Shaking Beef is a prime example of the balance of flavors and textures that Vietnamese cuisine is renowned for.

You may already know enough about this dish. Its unique name, along with its delectable flavours, has made it a memorable and sought-after choice among those seeking an authentic taste of Vietnam.

Why is it called shaking beef?

“Bò Lúc Lắc,” translates to “shaking beef”.  You might already know that it earned its name due to the shaking motion of the wok that is done in the cooking process. 

That said, if you aren’t used to cooking in a wok, you could just stir the meat rapidly as it cooks in the hot wok. The shaking is done to impress customers at many food stalls and you might like to have a go at it.

By shaking the wok as you stir and cook, the meat jumps around in the pan. This helps it char correctly without overcooking the interior of the meat. 

What goes into shaking beef?

The star of the show is most definitely the beef. The meat used most often is tenderloin or ribeye. I used ribeye and that was amazing!

The beef cubes are marinated in a mixture that often includes soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, garlic, sugar, and a touch of oil. That’s the marinade mixture you’ll be using in this recipe. This marinade infuses the beef with a rich umami flavour.

The deliciously marinated and cooked beef is then teamed up with a salad. There are many different Asian style dressings you can use but I hope you give mine a go.

The Shaking…

The name “Shaking Beef” comes from the cooking technique itself. Once marinated, the beef cubes are placed in a hot wok or skillet, and they are “shaken” or quickly tossed in the pan to ensure even cooking and searing.

This shaking motion prevents the beef from sticking to the pan and creates a beautifully caramelized exterior while keeping the inside tender.

What is different about shaking beef? 

What sets Shaking Beef apart is its impeccable balance of flavours and textures.

The tender beef, seared to perfection, is paired with the crunch of fresh greens and the zing of the dipping sauce. The interplay of sweet, savory, tangy, and herbal notes creates a culinary experience that’s both comforting and exciting.

Do you need to make this recipe exactly as written?

Of course not! There are many different versions. You might want to use other vegetables in your salad, for example. Just ensure that the meat you choose is tender. Stewing steak won’t work here.

Can you work ahead?

Yes. You can prepare the salad dressing and also the marinade a few days ahead of serving. You can marinate the meat until ready to cook or overnight.

Feel free to mix all of the vegetables that go into the salad a day or so before serving. Don’t stir the rocket or watercress in until just before serving though.

Can you upscale or downscale this recipe.

Yes. If you’re just serving yourself, you could opt for just one steak. If serving a crowd, cook up more. Shaking beef is a really versatile dish. You prepare a salad to taste, cook up some meat and it’s ready to serve. 

Pro Tips…

1. Choose Premium Beef: You need to opt for tender, well-marbled cuts like ribeye or tenderloin to guarantee a luscious texture and rich flavour. 

2. Elevate Marination: Marinating the beef is key to infusing it with authentic flavours. You should try the marinade and adjust it to taste before adding the meat

3. Master Shaking Technique: The shaking method is integral to achieving Shaking Beef’s distinctive caramelized crust and tender interior. For success:

  • You must use a hot, well-seasoned pan or wok to prevent sticking.
  • If you are using a small wok or you’re upscaling the recipe, cook the meat in batches to prevent overcrowding.
  • You really should try shaking the wok as you cook. This will prevent sticking and help ensure uniform browning.

Step by step photos

Ingredients for shaking beef

Get your ingredients together before you start cooking. This is a quick one and it’s easier if you have everything to hand.

Adding cubed beef to the marinade.

Mix the marinade ingredients together and then stir in the cubed beef.

Beef marinating

Be sure to rub the marinade right into the beef. Set aside.

Whisking the salad dressing ingredients together

Whisk the salad dressing ingredients together.

Tomatoes, cucumber and onions in a salad bowl.

Place the tomatoes, onions and cucumber in the salad bowl with the dressing.

Vegetables mixed with the salad dressing.

You can mix these veggies into the dressing now if you like.

Stir frying beef

Heat your wok until smoking hot. Then pour in the meat with all the marinade. Stir and shake the wok until the meat is nicely charred and cooked through to your liking.

Adding the leafy greens to the salad

Add the leafy greens to the salad just before serving.

Preparing the dipping sauce for the shaking beef.

Preparing the salt, pepper and lime juice dipping sauce can be done at the table.

shaking beef

Dig in!

If you like this recipe, you might like to try some of these Vietnamese favourites too!

Vietnamese Rotisserie Chicken
Vietnamese Tofu with Pork Stuffing
Beef Congee
Vietnamese Grilled Scallops
Cha Ca – Fried fish with Dill
Bo Kho – Spicy beef soup
Vietnamese Chicken Wings
Bun Cha – Grilled Pork Patties in Sauce
Chicken Pho
Beef Pho
Duck Pho
Pork on Lemongrass Skewers
Ban Xeo – Crispy Vietnamese Pancakes

Yield: 2 - 4

Shaking Beef

shaking beef
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 2 large ribeye steaks, or more depending on how hungry you are
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (minced)
  • Watercress or rocket
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola oil)
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 – 3 limes, quartered


  1. In a small saucer, mix the ground pepper and salt. You could divide this salt and pepper mixture between a few saucers or just leave it all in one. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the marinade, whisk all of the marinade ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add the cubed beef and stir it into the marinade until it is coated all over. Set aside.
  3. In a salad bowl, whisk all of the salad dressing ingredients together. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers and sliced red onions to the dressing and stir it all up to combine. Set aside.
  4. Place a wok over a high heat. When your wok is smoking hot, pour in the beef with all the marinade. This is where the 'shaking' comes in. Stir aggressively with a metal spatula and shake the wok from time to time too. The idea here is to char the exterior of the meat without overcooking the centre. This is why your wok needs to be really hot before you start.
  5. Once the meat is charred and cooked to your liking, take it off the heat.
  6. Add the watercress and/or rocket leaves to the salad bowl and give it all a good toss. Divide the salad between 2 to 4 plates and do the same with the meat.
  7. To serve, place the salt and pepper saucer/s on the table with the quartered limes. Squeeze some lime juice into the salt and pepper. You can do this to taste. Dip the meat into the salt, pepper and lime juice and enjoy with the salad.


I like to serve shanking beef with jasmine rice.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 355Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 3509mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 5gSugar: 8gProtein: 21g

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