When my husband casually walked into the kitchen the other day, asking “What’s for dinner?”, he had such a puzzled look when I replied “Shaking Beef.” I started to explain myself, and then upon seeing him quickly lose interest, yet not gain any understanding, I stopped myself short and said “It’s a beef stir-fry.” Sometimes I need to remember that fancy names for dishes get me nowhere at home.
But in order to satisfy your curiosity, I’ll share with you. This dish is Vietnamese in origin, and gets its name not from some miraculous trembling act it does on the plate, but rather from the shaking motion you use when stir-frying the beef and onions. This particular recipe is based very closely on a recipe from Charles Phan at Slanted Door restaurant, one of the many places I MUST visit whenever I might get to San Francisco. Until then, following his recipe at home will be the closest we’ll get. Good thing it’s relatively straightforward. It was also very easy to convert to gluten-free, too – all I needed was to ensure my soy sauce and fish sauce were gluten-free. (I discovered early in my gluten-free days that Three Crabs brand is not gluten-free. Now I stick with those brands that have short ingredient lists – usually no more than fish, sugar, and salt.) The soy sauce I use is San-J Low Sodium Tamari.
So now that you know about Shaking Beef, and how easy it is, go forth and impress (or confuse) others with your dish!
Shaking Beef, adapted from Charles Phan
1 1/2 lbs beef tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 T agave nectar
2 t kosher salt
1 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
5 T canola oil
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1/4 c rice wine or white wine
3 T gluten-free soy sauce
1 T fish sauce
Juice of 1 medium lime
2 bunches watercress or 1 small head red leaf lettuce, separated into leaves
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 T unsalted butter
In large bowl, place meat, garlic, 1 tablepsoon agave nectar, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon oil. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours and no more than 12 hours. (I actually only marinated for an hour, and it was still quite flavorful.) Whisk together rice-wine vinegar, wine, soy sauce, fish sauce, and 1 tablespoon agave nectar and set aside. In small ramekin, whisk together lime juice, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Arrange watercress or lettuce on four plates.
Divide meat into 2 portions and place in two medium bowls.
In wok or large skillet over high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil until smoking, then add one bowl of meat in one layer. Sear until brown crust forms, about 3 to 4 minutes, then flip to brown other side, another 3 to 4 minutes. Add half of red onion slices and half scallions, and sauté, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1/3 cup vinegar mixture and shake pan to release beef, stirring if necessary. Add 1 tablespoon butter, shaking pan until butter melts. Remove meat, and repeat with remaining portion of meat and remaining onions, scallions, vinegar mixture, and butter.
Arrange beef on top of watercress/lettuce and serve with lime dipping sauce and a side of steamed jasmine or brown rice.