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.
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.
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).
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.