Simple Sundays | Shaking Beef Vietnamese Stir Fry


  • 2 lbs beef for stir fry – ask for prime top sirloin for the most tender cut
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon fish sauce, divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 5 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dessert wine or white wine
  • 3 tablespoons good quality soy sauce (I like Silver Swan Soy Sauce, found in Asian markets)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 3 stalks scallions, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 large handfuls arugula or watercress


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the beef, garlic, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon fish sauce and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the rice wine vinegar, wine, soy sauce, remaining tablespoon fish sauce, and remaining tablespoon sugar until combined. Set aside.
  3. In another small bowl, stir together the lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok over high heat. Divide the beef, red onions and scallions into two portions. You will be cooking in batches.
  5. When the oil is glistening and hot, cood the first batch of beef in a single layer, leaving it untouched for about 3 minutes so that it becomes seared on one side. Turn the meat and sear for another 3 minutes. Add the red onions and scallions, stirring it. Add half of the vinegar-soy sauce mixture, and shake the pan or stir. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and shake the pan again. Set the beef in a dish to the side, and repeat with the second batch of beef.
  6. To serve, place the beef on a bed of arugula or your choice of greens, with the lime dressing on the side.