Bo Luc Lac (Shaking Beef)
One of my favorite dishes to make for dinner has to be Shaking Beef, otherwise known as Bo Luc Lac. It's a simple Vietnamese dish that's a feast not only for your belly, but your eyes too. I love Vietnamese food because it balances salty, sweet, sour and savory flavors, making for a mouth orgy of goodness. I stumbled upon this particular recipe on Rasa Malaysia, and it was so visually stunning that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make it. This particular recipe calls for a few ingredients that aren't necessarily gluten-free, but some simple adjustments and scouring the net for gluten-free substitutes make it actually quite easy to adapt for a gluten-free diet.
The two grievous offenders are the oyster sauce and the thick soy sauce. There is a good gluten-free option for oyster sauce by Lee Kum Kee which I use any time any recipe calls for oyster sauce. Make sure to keep it in the fridge and check on it periodically since it will grow mold if you keep it around too long.
The other offender, and this is the big one, is the thick soy sauce. There is no gluten-free version of thick soy available anywhere, and if by some chance you find it, send it my way! In the meantime, I've found that you can make a passable version by combining equal parts molasses and gluten-free soy sauce together. It's not perfect, but it gets the job done. For the beef, I usually use top sirloin, but you can use any cut of beef that you'd like. If you're using a tougher cut of meat you will need to marinate your meat a bit longer so the fibers break down more. I am lucky enough to have an Asian market near where I live, so when it comes to rice noodles, I have the pick of the litter, but you can use any rice noodles you have available. Just make sure you use the mai fun style, since it's the thinnest. Oh, and I'd recommend staying away from Annie Chun's, I was not impressed with the texture of their noodles when I picked up a box in a pinch.
The thing I like most about making Bo Luc Lac is that I feel like a food stylist every time I plate it, even though I'm not. It's almost impossible to make this look bad as long as you arrange the layers carefully. Of course, half the joy of eating it with your eyes, is enjoying it with all of your taste buds. If you give it a try let me know what you think!
Bo Luc Lac (Vietnamese Shaking Beef) - adapted from Rasa Malaysia
- 1.5 lbs filet mignon (the meat is always tender) cut into 1″ cubes
- 2 tbs minced garlic
- 1.5 tbs sugar
- 2 tbs oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee Green Label)
- 1 tbs fish sauce
- 1 tbs sesame oil
- 1 ts thick soy sauce (equal parts molasses and gluten-free soy sauce)
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1.5 tbs sugar
- 1/2 tbs salt
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 ts kosher salt
- 1/2 ts fresh cracked pepper
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 bunches of watercress, long stems trimmed
- 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
- Cooking oil for frying
To prepare the marinade: combine garlic, oyster sauce, sugar, fish sauce, thick soy sauce (gluten-free blend) and sesame oil with the beef for a mininum of half an hour.
To prepare the vinaigrette: mix rice vinegar with salt and sugar. You're aiming for a balance of sour, salty and sweet. Thinly slice the red onion and put into a small bowl. Add about 3-4 tbs of the vinaigrette mixture to the onions. Cover and put into the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
Pull out a platter and arrange your watercress and tomatoes on top. Heat a large wok or pan over high heat. Add about 2 tbs cooking oil until it starts to reach its smoking point, add a layer of beef and sear for a couple of minutes. Shake the pan to sear the beef on the opposite side until all sides of the beef are brown. For filet, you want your beef to be springy to the touch, but not soft. This will ensure you get a nice medium rare center.
Layer the cooked beef on top of your watercress and tomatoes. Drizzle another 3-4 tbs of vinaigrette over everything and top with pickled red onions.
For your dipping sauce: squeeze lime juice over salt and pepper in a small dish.
I like to serve this dish over warm rice noodles. I add the rice noodles to a bowl first, then the salad mixture, and then the beef on top. I drizzle a little of the vinaigrette on top of that. When eating, I dip the beef cubes into the dipping sauce first and then combine it with some noodles and salad mixture before taking a bite. It's insanely delicious!