9 Jan 2015

my favourite dish

[Long post! May be tltr.]

Lo and behold! My favourite Vietnamese dish, cơm bò lúc lắc...the one thing I order most when we eat out at local Vietnamese restaurants. I've probably tried it at a dozen of places, but only one place makes it to my liking. Over the course of a year (my second/third attempt here) with some initial Google research, I tried to recreate the flavour from the restaurant, but I never made it..! I don't know if it's a secret ingredient* or if some of my measurements are wrong, but along the way I created my own version. 

If you do follow on and read through the recipe, you will realise the wok needs to be washed so many times you may not even want to make this dish to begin with. (But that's mainly because I was cooking with two pieces of beef.) Heck, I may have even complicated a simple Vietnamese home fare but this is how we have been enjoying it at home.  

I took a "long cut" here and have chosen to cook a slab of beef, steak style instead of using diced beef cubes. Why? I find that it gives me better control of the doneness and reduces the sauce from the meat juice. I also think the wok will need to be washed as regularly since the batch size will need to be smaller (if using diced beef). My dad and I have tried cooking this with diced beef last year but we found it become too saucy to our liking. This may also be attributed to the maximum gas heat we have at home. As we prefer the beef in this dish to be on the drier side, I have opted to use a slab of beef instead. Feel free to use already diced beef if it suits you better. 

The recipe and method documented is how I currently make it at home. I'm still fine tuning it as I go, but the measurements below have passed family standards. Feel free to use it as a guide and adapt it to make it your own.


P.S. From prior research, I found out this dish is called "shaking beef" in the US. "Shaking" comes from the Vietnamese translation of lúc lắc, the action of shaking the wok/frying pan to quickly cook the beef. Well, if you asked me, I think it sounds more exciting than the English translation of "stir fried diced beef cubes with tomato rice" we have in Melbourne.

P.P.S. Check out my sister's blog A Wag Away which details Bobby's (our labrador) antics. I always get a good laugh from her posts. Their instagram account is here.

P.P.P.S. The toasted coconut waffle recipe has been updated!

*With some new googling, the answer may be rice wine vinegar (?!) I'll give it a shot next time and edit this post.

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cơm bò lúc lắc (stir fried diced beef / shaking beef)     serves 6

2 pieces (about 1kg) beef skirt
1-2 (spanish) onions. cut into squares
cooking oil, as required

beef marinade
60g oyster sauce
25g fish sauce
5g sugar
a dash of sesame oil
black/white pepper, as required

stir fry sauce
20g clear honey
25g light soy sauce
15g fish sauce
dark soy sauce, as required (optional)
black pepper, as required

tomato fried rice
3 rice cups raw rice, cooked and cooled for half a day/overnight rice
3 large eggs, beaten
20g tomato paste (optional - mainly for colour)
tomato sauce / ketchup, as required (mainly for colour)
sea salt, as required
white pepper, as required
chicken stock powder, as required
cooking oil, as required

Marinade/stir fry sauce: Mix ingredients together in separate bowls. Set aside.

Beef: Trim excess fat/veins off the beef. Coat with the beef marinade, wrap and refrigerate for 30 - 60 minutes. 

(I don't know if this next bit is even necessary...but just in case...)

Fried rice: Heat a wok and add cooking oil. Swivel the wok so the oil coats the base and sides. Pour out excess oil onto a bowl for later. On medium heat, add the eggs and quickly stir it in a circular motion (like making scrambled eggs) until it sets. Allow eggs to dry a little before adding rice. Increase heat to high. Toss rice to mix with the eggs. Continue tossing and season as required. Transfer to the rice cooker to keep warm when done.

Beef (cont.): Heat a wok and add cooking oil. Swivel the wok so the oil coats the base and sides. Make sure the wok and oil is smoking at this point! Carefully add the cold beef and cook until bottom becomes brown. Be careful of oil splatter (because the marinade contains water)!! The beef will burn/char a little bit, but it is ok! Flip and cook underside until it is browned. You may need to add more oil if the wok becomes dry. 

Transfer cooked beef on a plate and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Don't worry about it cooling, because you will need to cook it again. 

If you have another piece of beef to cook, wash the wok and start again. 

Drain excess beef juice. Cut beef against the grain and then into bite sized chunks. Drain excess beef juice. If you don't mind getting your hands a little bit dirty, squeeze out excess beef juice (optional).

As the cold beef was cooked on high heat, the middle is still raw/rare. This is optimum because it can be cooked again quickly without the meat becoming tough.

Repeat with the other piece of beef.

In a smoking, oiled wok, add half (if you have time, cook a quarter batch at a time for better flavour) of the beef and onions. 

Stir fry until beef is cooked then add half of the stir fry sauce, toss, tasting as you go. Adjust seasoning and finish up by cracking in some black pepper before dishing up!

Clean the wok and repeat with the remaining beef cubes.

Do not add too much sauce in one go as I did here. Not only will it make the beef cubes salty, it will make the beef too saucy. If that happens, under season your next batch and mix in the over seasoned batch when ready. (I also forgot to add onions in this batch, oops.)

Serve in a lettuce cup with tomato fried rice, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. Dig in!