Does it look yummy? Would you like a closer look?
Bo luc lac literally translated is beef shaking. The luc lac refers to the "shaking" that occurs when the beef gets tossed in the wok. While most Americans would eat beef in the form of a big steak, most Asians use meat to flavor vegetables and eat it with rice. So take that big steak, dice it, and you'll get this plate of bo luc lac.
Add some Tom Kha Gai (Thai Galangal and Chicken Soup) and you'll easily feed six people. This is how dinner sometimes goes in my house, or rather how it went down on this particular evening. I went down to my second-youngest uncle's to grab some rau dang (Exact translation is bitter herb. Glinus oppositifolius. There's no common English name for this.) It's in the same family as watercress and I didn't have any on hand so I figured rau dang was an acceptable substitute. I also grabbed a few tomatoes, and when the oldest '87 asked me what I was making for dinner, I told her to come down in an hour if she wanted some. Then cousin Q came over to return my DVD and I invited him to dinner too.
The funny thing is, though my two youngest uncles regularly cook in their households, neither of them evidently make bo luc lac. And then later when lil' sis was ready to come home for dinner, she asked if there was enough for her best friend as well, and that's how I ended up feeding six people. And because everyone apparently enjoyed dinner so much, they all returned the next day when I made Cuban Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken. The directions are written in the order I would do each step so that it allows enough time for the beef to marinate, or for the onions to soften. Everything should come together fairly quickly.
Bo Luc Lac (Vietnamese Shaking Beef)
1 lb beef, you can go fancy with filet mignon or any cheap cut, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 or 2 tomatoes, sliced
1 bunch watercress, or mixed field greens, or lettuce, or whatever type of greens you wish
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce) or soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar Hanh Dam (Vietnamese Vinegared Onions)
Optional: Add 1 or 2 minced chilies into the marinade.
Dice the beef into 1-inch cubes. Add 2 tsp fish sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, and 1/2 tsp sugar to marinade. Set aside and let it marinate at room temperature.
Wash greens. Slice tomatoes. Top with vinegared onions (just the onions, you don't want the vinegar juices). Arrange your plate just so. Mince garlic. Now you're ready to cook! In a wok on high heat, drizzle a bit of oil. Add minced garlic. Add in the beef, minus the marinade, and "shake" it until edges are charred and the beef is cooked to your liking. Notice the reserved marinade on the side? You don't want to add it right now or the beef will get soggy and won't char.
Don't stir-fry the beef too much. Let it sear before tossing it in the pan. When the meat is all evenly seared, add in the reserved marinade and stir to make sure the juices are cooked.
Scoop beef onto salad, making sure to drizzle beef juices over the salad as well. You can serve this as a salad.
Or with Com Do Ca Chua (Vietnamese Tomato Paste Red Rice) like the top photo. You can also serve it with a small dipping sauce of ground black pepper, salt, and a squeeze of lime or lemon.