Monday, May 10, 2010

Garlic Lime Steak...the best Bò Lúc Lắc...for the meat-lover

When we were young, my mom worked all the time and rarely ever cooked. But somewhere along the way, under the tutelage of some Vietnamese cooks and meticulous logging of recipes into a secretive battered red address book, she mastered a handful of fantastic dishes that would nurture my palate and leave me painfully homesick (to this day).
The only beef dish she ever made (and made frequently) was the popular Vietnamese "Bò Lúc Lắc," literally, "Beef Shaking," referring to the cooking method of shaking the super hot skillet in order to sear the small cubes of beef. She put me in charge of garlic, emphasizing how critical an ingredient garlic was in everything. For as long as I can remember, I've been smashing, peeling and mincing garlic.
All meat-lovers who have had a bite of my Bò Lúc Lắc, renamed "Garlic Lime Steak," have yelled out stuff like, "This is the BEST steak I've EVER had in MY LIFE!"..."Omg, what's IN this?!" You get all the sensations - salty, sweet, umami, sour, peppery....
My version does NOT contain the customary Oyster Sauce, a very sweet standard stir-fry sauce, and I try to use the nicer tenderloin. Oh, and certainly NO butter. Bò lúc lắc is typically served as a salad dish, using watercress, but can easily be served with toothpicks as a casual app, as an entire no-carb meal, or even as a tasty canapé hors d'œuvre. You will have a rough time going back to the standard American steakhouse after tasting this! My children's FRIENDS even request this dish! 
Two of my favorite and most frequently used Viet seasonings (common in any Viet household) are Maggi and Fish Sauce. Maggi is similar to soy sauce, but with a less salty flavor and just plain GOOD. The "Arome Saveur" brand of Maggi is more expensive, $23.95 vs $14, but more flavorful and way less salty than the regular Maggi. As for fish sauce, my mom always bought the Three Crabs Brand, so naturally, that is what I buy (mama knows best!). Fish sauce is growing more and more popular in Western cooking, so you can probably find these at most grocery stores and all Asian markets. I got these at Tay-do in SLC. 
Fish sauce is basically a liquid anchovy, but with super seductive powers that add tremendous depth in any dish. By adding just a dab of fish sauce, you will immediately spice up any BBQ marinade, bring a new dimension to your standard breakfast omelette, excite even your tomato sauce for your pasta! Fish sauce is the enticing je ne sais quoi flavor in all (almost ALL) Vietnamese cooking.
***Garlic and Lime Steak***
4# tenderloin filet mignon
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
6 tsp Maggi
2 T Fish Sauce
Olive Oil
1 bunch Scallion (chopped)
3 limes cut into wedges
1 bulb garlic (about 10 cloves, minced)
3 small ripe tomatoes, quartered
fresh cracked pepper
(1) Cut the tenderloin into 1-2" cubes. Transfer the meat into a mixing bowl. Add the following ingredients to the meat for the marinade: 1 tsp Sugar, 1 tsp Salt, 1 tsp Pepper, 6 tsp Maggi and  2 T Fish Sauce. Toss the meat to coat evenly. Allow the meat to marinate in the fridge for about 20 minutes. (The smaller the cubes, the faster the meat will cook, with a higher chance of OVERCOOKING your meat. So, rare-peeps: cut em bigger. Well-doners: cut em smaller!)
(2) Mince the garlic and set aside. Chop the scallion and set aside, separately.
(3) Coat a large pan with Olive Oil and set the burner on High. When the oil starts to smoke a bit, add the marinated meat with space between the meat. Use a splatter screen! Let the meat cook for about 30 sec to 1 minute or until seared (charred on one side). Then flip with tongs to seat the other side. Check doneness by forking out a piece and cutting it open. 
(5) Transfer the Meat to a platter. Immediately squeeze half a Lime onto the Meat.
(6) In the same pan, add the minced Garlic. Add a tiny bit more oil if needed. When the Garlic turns golden (not too brown/black), add the crispy Garlic to the Meat.
(7) In the same pan, add the chopped the Scallion (and additional Oil if needed) for about 30 seconds. Transfer the cooked Scallion to the Meat (with the Garlic).
(8) Cut up the Tomato and Lime and add decoratively to the meat platter. (The heat from the Meat will warm the Tomatoes.) Serve immediately! YUMMY! Serve this with white rice and mushrooms. Squeeze more lime.
Beautiful meat. Add the following ingredients to the meat to marinate: 1 tsp Sugar, 1 tsp Salt, 1 tsp Pepper, 6 tsp Maggi and  2 T Fish Sauce. Toss to coat evenly. Allow the meat to marinate in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Finely mince an entire bulb to Garlic. I love Global knives. Set the minced garlic aside. Cover with plastic to keep from drying if you plan to leave it out for a while.
In a big skillet, coat the pan with oil. On High Heat, add the marinaded Beef, leaving room between each piece. Just like searing teeny filet mignons.
When the bottom is seared, about 1 minute, turn each piece over to sear the other side. I like my meat rare to medium-rare, so each piece will be a little swollen and bouncy. (If the meat is tough and harder, it is well-done.) Transfer to a serving platter. Squeeze half a lime into the meat while it is hot.
In the same pan, add the minced Garlic. Add some oil if the pan is too dry. Wait until it browns in a golden crisp color and pour the Garlic on top of the seared beef.
YUM, garlic chunks. Add the extra lime wedges and tomatoes.
Next, heat the chopped scallion in some oil. Transfer the scallion oil to the meat platter.
Add fresh cracked pepper. WOW. Ready to eat now! I usually give my kids mini-forks or toothpicks. For the low-carb guy, this is the perfect meal. The rice-lover, pour over a hot bowl of jasmine rice.
Squeeze additional lime and a dab of Maggi for additional sour yumminess... The flavorful juices...
ENJOY....Omg, so so so delicious. Bon appétit! Whoah - what a close-up!


  1. Another amazing photo display. I can't wait to try this one - all of them. What am I waiting for? You wrote about being in charge of garlic which brings to mind that Olivia's been pealing garlic since she was two years old. One of my favorite pictures of her is at that age, standing on a stool at the kitchen counter in deep concentration, pealing garlic. Thanks for these detailed recipe's and the very helpful, very beautiful photos.

  2. My pleasure. I was thinking of you when I posted this one... one of your faves I think?

  3. Can't wait to make this. Your instructions are so precise I think you have "arrived".