Vietnamese Spicy Beef

When I was going through chemotherapy I ate a lot of Vietnamese food because the heat and the distinct acidic, salty, sweet flavor profiles would neutralize the chemo taste in my mouth. Recipes like this one were just the trick to add some flavor to my palate. I wouldn’t say this is a super “disease fighting” dish, but I did make sure it was as healthy as possible by cutting out as much fat and calories as I could.  And, I made sure to use grass fed certified organic raised beef from Stemple Creek Ranch that I personally picked up from the ranch myself.

At the local farmer’s market this past Sunday, I found myself craving all these Vietnamese flavors like lime, lemongrass, basil, garlic, and mint found in many traditional dishes. One of the my favorite restaurants in San Francisco is a Vietnamese restaurant called “The Slanted Door”, with one of their signature dishes being “Shaking Beef”.  I looked online and found several recipes for “Shaking Beef” and other random Vietnamese beef dishes that sounded really tasty.

I came up with my own version of “Shaking Beef” by utilizing the online recipes I found as a guideline.  The marinade I made is different from the standard “Shaking Beef” marinade, but I stuck with the original cooking method, a similar vinaigrette, and dipping sauce.  My boyfriend absolutely loved the pickled red onions and days later, still is talking about them.


  • 1 lb Top Sirloin, fat trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
  • juice of one average sized lime
  • 3 Tablespoons fish sauce (see in photo above)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracaha sauce (see in photo above) or hot chili garlic sauce
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons grape-seed oil (or any neutral oil that can tolerate high heat)



  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Dipping Sauce:

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 small bunch watercress, long stems trimmed
  • 1 small tomato thinly sliced


  1. Whisk together marinade ingredients and set aside
  2. place beef and marinade into a plastic bag and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight
  3. Thinly slice the red onion and use a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette to pickle. Cover and set aside in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  4. Prepare the bed of watercress and tomatoes on a serving plate and set aside
  5. Turn on vent fan and heat a large pan or wok over medium high  heat and add 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
  6. Add 1/2 of the beef on an even layer in the pan and allow to sear a minute or so, and then “shake” to sear the opposite side.  Transfer to serving plate on the bed of watercress and tomatoes  Do not overcook, you want the beef to be browned on the outside and then medium rare and tender on the inside.Repeat with second half of beef.
  7. Drizzle another tablespoon of the vinaigrette over the beef and and greens and then top with the pickled onions.
  8. Squeeze juice of one lime in a small ramekin and add the salt and pepper
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Adapted from San Francisco Gourmet, July 2005

*Notes: I don’t have the specific nutritional breakdown of this dish at this time, but a 4  oz. serving is around 300 calories, and depending on the cut of beef you use, can be very low in fat.  If you use grass fed beef you have significantly cut down on the “bad fat” and increased the CLA and Omega’s.

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