Shaking Beef



Yield: 4 servings

This is the signature dish from The Slanted Door, a modern and trendy Vietnamese restaurant in the Ferry Building in San Francisco.  I ate there on a trip last year and was so impressed by the food.  I’m pretty sure we ordered half the menu between two people, but there were so many mouthwatering items on the menu.  If you ever have the opportunity to go (which you should), I highly recommend the papaya salad, crispy Imperial rolls, and this dish, of course.  This recipe is from The Slanted Door cookbook, which I’ve rewritten slightly for simplicity and because I prefer the onions a little softer than the recipe calls for and adding some arugula to the traditional watercress for that peppery bite.  I’ve made this several times in the few months since I returned from my trip and it’s perfect for someone who eats a low-carb diet (MOM).



2 pounds trimmed beef tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon sugar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup mirin

1/4 cup light soy sauce

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce


Juice of 2 limes

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


3 to 4 large garlic cloves, finely minced

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

5 green onions, white and green parts, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons butter

4 ounces watercress and/or arugula, thick stems removed


In a mixing bowl, combine the beef cubes, 1 tablespoon oil, sugar, salt and pepper, tossing thoroughly to coat.  Let marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.


In a small bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients and stir to dissolve the sugar.


In another small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the lime dipping sauce and set aside until ready to serve.


Heat the largest skillet you have over high heat for at least 5 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup of the oil; it should start to heat and shimmer right away.  Add the beef in a single layer and sear for approximately 3 minutes until browned on the first side; stand back because the oil will violently spatter.  Using tongs, turn the beef cubes onto the other side and sear for 1 minute more.  You will have to sear the beef in two batches.  When all of the beef is seared, add half of the soy-vinegar sauce and 1 tablespoon of butter, shaking the pan to ensure all of the beef is coated in sauce.  Allow to cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute more.  Remove the beef to a bowl and set aside.


Add the remaining 1/4 cup of oil to the pan and add the sliced red onions and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Over high heat, cook the red onions, stirring constantly, until softened and translucent, about 4 to 6 minutes.  Add the green onions and garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Add the remaining soy-vinegar sauce and 1 tablespoon of butter and shake the pan again to coat.  Add the beef back to the pan and allow to cook for 1 minute more to allow all the flavors to combine.   Remove from the heat.


Add a handful of greens to each serving plate and spoon the beef-onion mixture on top, draining off the sauce.  Serve with the lime dipping sauce.


Inspiration: Shaking Beef, The Slanted Door by Charles Phan


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