Saturday, May 29, 2010

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad)

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad) 1

Most of the time when I make a steak these days, I usually just eat it with an iceberg lettuce salad and ranch dressing or rice. My quick and lazy meal. But earlier this week when I did that, the simple dinner just didn't satisfy me.

I started to remember the Vietnamese steak salad my mom used to make when I was young. I know she used some of the extra marinade for the dressing, but remembered it tasting, well, more. So I called up my mom and asked her.

Ah, soy sauce, vinegar, and oil. Salad dressing of course, but a brothy, beefy salad dressing to complement the steak salad. Mmm. That salad was good, mom said, and wondered aloud why she hadn't made it in a long time either.

But, but, making a proper salad takes so much work. Not the cooking of the steak, but slicing all the vegetables. I mean, that is why I default to the iceberg lettuce salad as an accompaniment. But my cravings would not be assuaged by anything less. So I got off my lazy butt, and started slicing and dicing.

Except she served it untossed, a little more nicely laid out sort of like the picture below.

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad) 2

This version is a combination of what I remember my mom making and how I like my flavors to combine. Do the steps in this order so each ingredient gets proper marination or resting time. Marinate the steak. You can keep the beef whole as a steak and slice it after cooking, or slice it first so it'll be more like a stir-fry on top of the salad. Either way works fine.

Then make the hard-boiled eggs. I like keeping one egg whole and mashing up the other into the dressing to flavor it more.

You know how much I love my Hanh Dam (Vietnamese Vinegared Onions) so they'll need time to soften.

Then slice and dice whatever vegetables you'd like in the salad.

After that, it's a simple matter of cooking the steak and making the dressing out of the leftover marinade. I like to toss in some roughly chopped herbs and the mashed egg into the dressing near the end to make it more flavorful. The warm dressing will slightly wilt the lettuce, but that's part of the flavor. If you don't like wilted lettuce, just let the dressing cool down first before tossing.

My mom would serve just this steak salad and rice for dinner. She says she uses just soy sauce to marinate the steak, but I like adding fish sauce too. The dressing is easily adjusted to your taste preference. Serve it as a side salad or as a meal, it's filling either way. You can even save and refrigerate the leftovers as this steak salad tastes great even chilled. If you do, you'll probably want to use a hardier lettuce than red leaf so it doesn't get soggy from the dressing.

If you like Bo Luc Lac (Vietnamese Shaking Beef), you'll like xa lach thit bo.

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad) 3

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad)

For two servings as a meal or four servings as a side, you'll need:

For the steak, you'll need:

3/4 to 1 lb beef, any cut of your choice
2 tblsp soy sauce
1 tblsp rice vinegar
1 tsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sesame oil

For the salad, you'll need:
2 eggs
1 small red onion to make Hanh Dam (Vietnamese Vinegared Onions)
1 head red leaf lettuce or other lettuce of your choice
Any vegetables of your choice, I used:
1 carrot, peeled into ribbons
6 radishes, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

For the salad dressing, you'll need:
2 tblsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tblsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
A few sprigs of mint or rau ram (Vietnamese coriander), roughly chopped
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes

Decide whether to slice the beef before or after cooking and do that accordingly. Marinate the steak with 2 tblsp soy sauce, 1 tblsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp fish sauce, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, and 1 tsp sesame oil.

Hard-boil the eggs.

Make the vinegared onions.

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad) 4

Slice and dice the veggies of your choice. Hand tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Roughly chop the herbs.

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad) 5

On the left, my attempt to lay out the salad nice, and my preferred method of tossing everything on the right.

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad) 6

Cook the steak, putting only the beef into the pan, reserving the marinade for later. I usually pan-fry on medium-high heat until medium. Alternatively, if you had chosen to slice your steak, just saute as normal, but still reserving the marinade so the beef will develop a proper char.

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad) 7

Set aside the steak to cool and to let the juices redistribute.

In the pan, make the dressing by adding 2 tblsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sesame oil, 2 tblsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice, and 1/4 cup water. When marinade starts bubbling so the meat juices aren't so raw, taste and add more vinegar or soy sauce if necessary.

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad) 8

Meanwhile, slice the steak while the dressing is reducing.

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad) 9

Oops. Forgot to add some dried chili flakes for spice. Better to do that later anyway so the dressing won't be too spicy.

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad) 10

When dressing is reduced to your liking and flavor, take it off the stove and add in the chopped egg and chopped herbs.

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad) 11

Plate the salad and drizzle the dressing on top. Or if you want the steak extra marinated, then add the slice steak back into the dressing, and then toss.

Untossed steak salad.

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad) 12

Tossed steak salad. Eat as is, or serve with rice.

Xa Lach Thit Bo (Vietnamese Steak Salad) 13


Other Vietnamese salads:
Goi Buoi Tom (Vietnamese Pomelo Salad with Shrimp)
Goi Cu Sen Non Tom Thit (Vietnamese Young Lotus Root Salad with Shrimp and Pork)
Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Salad/Spring/Summer Rolls)
Goi Du Du Kho Bo (Vietnamese Papaya Salad with Beef Jerky)
Goi Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Salad)
Goi Ga Bap Cai (Vietnamese Chicken Cabbage Salad)
Goi Mit Non Tom Thit Heo (Vietnamese Green Jackfruit Salad with Pork and Shrimp)
Goi Xoai Xanh (Vietnamese Green Mango Salad)
Xa Lach Thit Bo Rau Muong (Vietnamese Steak and Water Spinach Salad)

1 year ago today, Portland from Glendora rose.
2 years ago today, Sup Mang Tay Cua (Vietnamese Asparagus and Crab Soup).
3 years ago today, Mandarin Noodle Deli - Temple City (Closed).


  1. OMG what a wonderful looking dish,loved the story as well...its funny I am listening to DJ Tiesto's version of Titanic kinda holy and ravish which was perfectly suited for this the perfect colored steak w/the salad and ever so desirable dressing...yumm im wandering in food heaven right now...thanx for sharing

  2. hi wc - what a great recipe! looks delicious...i may have to keep this recipe in mind when i do my vietnamese themed dinner for my friends...thanks for posting this!

  3. i completely agree about the whole preparation of a simple salad. if you want a good salad, it's gotta be done right and lord, it takes time! sometimes the simpliest meals takes the longest time to put together.

    this dish looks wonderful and so SIMPLE! :)

  4. The steak looks perfect! Do you use a meat thermometer? I never know how to tell when the meat is cooked right. It's sad, really. I'd love to know how to make steak turn out the way you made yours.

    The salad dressing sounds amazing, too.

  5. OH my gosh, I've GOT to try this. I do love some Bo Luc Lac and Hanh Dam! I'm sure I'll love this too.

    Thanks for the wonderful recipe, and the pics look fantastic.

  6. This looks great. A lot better than vegetarian tripe, anyway. (I'm sorry, I just can't wrap my head around it.) But thank you for your help! :)

  7. Oh, MAN. You just made my "lazy" dinner look really, really sorry. Honestly, I never (ever!) crave beef. Until this moment.

    And by the way, would someone in the good ole US of A kindly send me some packets of ranch dressing mix? Because thanks to WC's throwaway comment, I'm craving that now, as well. SIGH.

  8. I do a similar salad often in the warm weather but I love the idea of the mashed eggs to give it flavor and "heft". I have never done that. On the list for sure. In terms of meat I usually go with something lean and cheap because I want the beefy flavor but when eating cold or room temp I don't want the fat- my preference. I do use avocado cubes and when there is pickled ginger in the fridge I like that as well. Of course that is taking it out of the Vietnamese profile but just saying- if you are combing the fridge think about it

  9. Mmmmm this looks really good. I'm gonna ask my sis-in-law to make this one together! Love the hard boiled eggs in the salad too. Can't wait to try the dressing out..mmmm

  10. I made this last night and it was a hit. We did it family style with dressing, beef, salad, and onions in separate serving dishes so everyone could make it as they wished. As Borat would say, "Great Success!!"

  11. Looks delicious!! Is is easily adaptable to using leftover steak?

  12. that's a beautiful post. i don't think i'm very imaginative or experimental with salads at's always the same ol thing. but you've inspired me to try this too. do you have a favorite brand of fish sauce btw?

  13. David,
    Ha! That's the first time of heard of Tiesto and Vietnamese steak salad as a pairing! :P

    You could even do all Vietnamese salads since some of them, like this, are pretty filling as a meal.

    What's that saying about writing concisely? I didn't have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one? Same principle.

    I can do a post. No thermometer. Medium-high heat. Watch for the side of the steak to be cooked halfway, flip. That's it. It's more about paying attention to your meat than anything else.

    Can't wait to see you do yours!

    Vamp Tramp,
    Haha. I like non-vegetarian tripe too. :P

    I can do that, but you know you can make your own, right? Buttermilk and chopped dill!

    I choose $2 cheap steaks and toss in anything I have on hand so anything goes when I'm not photographing it for the blog. :P

    You'll have to tell me how you like it! So cute that you cook with your sister-in-law. :)

    Jan Frederick,
    Ha! Would you ever tell me when you make something of mine that wasn't a hit? :P Thanks as always for making so many of my recipes!

    Aunt Snow,
    Haha. I have an aunt Snow! I totally used my leftover steak and re-pan-fried it for this because it just wasn't cutting it.

    If you click on my fish sauce link in the recipe, it'll discuss which brands of fish sauce I use and why.

  14. I finally got around to making this salad. I enticed veggie-avoiding boyfriend by saying the salad dressing was "meat flavored" ;)After that he was very intrigued. It turned out great. I used Romaine lettuce because I knew we'd have leftovers and I find that lettuce lasts a bit longer. The salad and dressing were great the next day too. Thank you for this post!

  15. Cheese Plate SF,
    Nice! Haha. "Meat-flavored" dressing. :P

    Yeah, when I know I'll want to eat it as lunch the next day, I use Romaine too.


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