Shaking Beef


Meat is precious and Buddhist traditions are strong in Vietnam, which is why dishes of beef are considered a luxury. Clever cooks cut tender, marbled cuts into small pieces so they soak up flavor, then cook them quickly and serve them hot with aromatic herbs. Here, the peppery, salty-sweet, juicy beef mingles with the light salad dressing to create a great sauce that pools on the platter, perfect for drizzling over rice. Watercress leaves warm and wilt under the Shaking Beef (so named for the back-and-forth shaking of the pan), while their stems remain crunchy. In the summer, sub cherry tomatoes for the radicchio. For a stunning appetizer, serve the sautéed beef with some fresh herbs and toothpicks for easy sharing.

Total Time:
35 mins



  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce, plus more to taste

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless rib eye steak or New York strip steak, trimmed and cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces


  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion or shallot

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar or honey

  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 cups lightly packed watercress, baby arugula, or other salad greens

  • 1 cup torn radicchio or 8 halved cherry tomatoes

  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, basil, or other herb leaves, torn

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or other neutral oil (such as grapeseed)


Make the beef

  1. Stir together oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, fish sauce, pepper, and garlic in a medium bowl. If a saltier finish is desired, add up to 1 1/2 teaspoons more oyster sauce. Add beef, toss well to coat, and let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature.

Make the salad

  1. Rinse onions in a strainer under cold running water for about 10 seconds; set aside. Whisk together 2 tablespoons water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add onion; top with watercress, radicchio, and herbs. Do not toss.

  2. Heat a large, heavy skillet over high, and add oil. When oil is shimmering, carefully add beef in a single layer. Cook, shaking pan every 30 to 60 seconds, until seared on all sides and meat reaches desired degree of doneness, 3 to 4 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from heat. Quickly toss salad, and transfer to a platter or serving dish. Pile cooked beef and juices on salad, and serve immediately.

    Shaking Beef
    Greg DuPree
Related Articles