Good morning, Vietnam! (Or evening, to be precise)

This will be short and sweet. Our Vietnamese meal was DELISH.

I’m pretty much a novice when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine. I’ve eaten at Vietnamese restaurants, but not with any regularity, and mostly sticking to Pho (in fact, I found a pretty tasty looking recipe for Pho via the New York Times and was planning on making that until Mike voiced his disdain for Pho – “too soupy.”). So, when it came time to cook Vietnam, I didn’t really even have a concept of what Vietnamese food was. Thank goodness for the internet. (To be fair, I did buy a generic Asian cookbook, but the Vietnamese recipes were pretty weak). I chanced upon this blog and found the recipe for “Shaking” beef or Thit Bo Luc Lac. According to the blog’s author, this is traditionally a celebratory entrée in Vietnam, since the average citizen couldn’t afford the choice beef used for the dish. Since my birthday was yesterday, I figured a celebratory dish was perfect.

Thit Bo Luc Lac

The ingredient list for this recipe was pretty simple and much was already in my cupboards. All I had to buy was the beef (I went with top loin, about 1.5 lbs) and fish sauce (which smells about 1/4 as bad as shrimp paste, but didn’t add the same punch of flavor) and the watercress. A stop to the local QFC was all I needed. I also picked up some yakisoba noodles, which I realize are Japanese, but there were no vermicelli noodles in sight and I didn’t have the time or inclination to hunt them down.

Quinn helped me stirred the marinade. (NB: now that I have started watching America's Test Kitchen, I cannot help pronouncing marinade as mar-in-naaaaade in my head.)
Quinn helped me stirred the marinade. (NB: now that I have started watching America’s Test Kitchen, I cannot help pronouncing marinade as mar-in-naaaaade in my head.)

The recipe was really easy. I let the beef marinate for 2 hours and then flash seared it in a very hot pan (I don’t own a wok). It took hardly any time to cook. While I was doing that, I quickly made up the dressing for the watercress, subbing red onion for shallot because I forgot to buy one. Once the beef was done, I quickly fried the noodles in the leftover marinade in the pan. All in all, the actual cooking of this dish took maybe 20 minutes.

I’ll spare you the suspense: It was freaking delicious. The beef was perfectly tender and super yummy. The watercress added a nice bright punch. The noodles, while from the wrong country, were a tasty side. The beef itself could be served a variety of ways – on a simple bed of rice or with a more complex salad. There was literally nothing left (well, except for two bites that Quinn didn’t eat).

How do you say delicious in Vietnamese?

Honestly there is very little more that I can say. This dish was quick and ridiculously good. I think the key is in buying decent, but not overly fancy, beef, and the long marinade. It will definitely be making another appearance on our table.


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