Vietnamese Shaken Beef Salad

This Vietnamese beef salad is inspired by one of my favourite dishes – shaking or shaken beef or bu lo lac – and something I often order at a restaurant because it’s very healthy and nutritious. This homemade version is super easy and is paleo, gluten-free and low-carb friendly. This recipe is gluten-free, Paleo, Whole30-friendly.

Vietnamese shaken beef salad (bu lo lac) - paleo, gluten-free recipe

Shaken Beef Salad

If you ever dine at a Vietnamese restaurant, you will often find the dish called bu lo lac or shaken beef (sometimes called shaking beef). It consists of stir-fried marinated beef cubes (shaken in a frying pan) served over a simple tomato, lettuce and onion salad.

I was planning on making a nice beef salad and thought I should try the Vietnamese recipe as a base.

I didn’t use any refined sugar or gluten in the beef marinade and sweetened it (and the onion dressing) with a little coconut sugar instead (much lower glycemic index than sugar or even honey). By all means, use palm sugar or honey if that’s what you have. 

I hope you enjoy this Vietnamese shaken beef salad recipe! Check more of my Asian recipes here.

Vietnamese beef salad inspired by shaking beef recipe

How To Make Shaken Beef Salad

The key to this dish is good quality beef (grass-fed ideally) that’s been marinated for a minimum of 30 minutes. The longer you let the beef infuse with all those aromatics and sauces, the tastier and more tender it will be once cooked. You can always do it the night before or in the morning before heading to work. 

Step 1. Marinate the beef with aromatics and Asian condiment sauce.

Step 2. Marinate or quick-pickle the sliced onions.

Step 3. Prepare the salad ingredients. You can toss everything in a bowl or serve this dish on a platter like in my photos.

Step 3. Cook the beef in two batches over high heat for 3 minutes on each side. Then return all meat pieces back to the frying pan with any remaining marinade and shake it all together over high heat for another minute or two.

Serve the cooked beef with all the juices over the salad and top with pickled onions (or have those in a side dish).

How to make shaken Vietnamese Beef Salad

Make-Ahead Tip

You can marinate the beef and pickle the onions 2-3 days in advance and keep those in the fridge until cooking time. The beef could also be frozen in a Ziplock bag for 2 months (simply defrost overnight in the fridge).

Enjoy this shaking beef salad as is or serve it alongside some regular rice or cauliflower rice for something a little more substantial. Having said that, the beef will be quite satiating with just the salad.  Enjoy! 

More Asian Recipes You Might Like

Full Recipe 

Find the full list of ingredients, instructions, and a nutritional breakdown below. If you have questions or cook this recipe, please let me know in the comments, and make sure to rate this recipe so it’s easy for others to find.

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Vietnamese beef salad inspired by shaking beef recipe

Vietnamese Shaken Beef Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Author: Irena Macri
Servings: 3
Course: Main
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Print Pin Save
4 from 1 vote
Calories: 411kcal
Bursting with savoury-sweet flavours, nutrients and protein, this Vietnamese shaken beef salad (also known as shaking beef) is easy to make and can be served on its own or with rice. The beef and the onions can be prepared ahead of time, making this a quick midweek dinner meal. You will need a wok. a large frying pan, or a grill pan for cooking the beef.


For the beef and marinade

  • 400-500 g beef steak about 1 lb. diced into cubes (I suggest rump, sirloin, fillet)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves finely diced
  • 1 long red chilli sliced (you can remove the seeds if it’s very spicy)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Coconut oil for frying

For the pickled onions

  • 1 red onion thinly sliced into circles
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1.5 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water

For the salad

  • 2 heads gem lettuce separated and washed
  • 2-3 Roma tomatoes or as many cherry tomatoes as you like
  • 1 carrot peeled into ribbons
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves


  • In a bowl, combine the beef cubes with the marinade ingredients. I like to use my hands to rub the meat with all the sauces, garlic and chilli. Cover the bowl or transfer the meat to a container and marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes and longer if you can. If you’re short on time, 15-20 minutes will do but the meat won’t be as tasty.
  • Combine the sliced onions with pickling ingredients and rub with your hands. Allow marinating in a bowl for 10-15 minutes or longer as well.
  • Prepare the salad ingredients. You can toss everything in a bowl or serve this dish on a platter like in my photos.
  • To cook the beef, remove from the fridge for 10 minutes to come to room temperature (unless it’s already out). Heat 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil or macadamia oil over high heat. Add the beef in two batches (hold off some of the sauce) and fry for 3 minutes each batch. I like to let the meat cook for 1 minute before I start turning the pieces over so it can brown slightly. Once the batches are done, return all beef to the pan together with any remaining marinade. Now, stir-fry or shake the pan to get everything nicely tossed together and cook for another minute.
  • Serve the cooked beef with all the juices over the salad and top with pickled onions (or have those in a side dish).


Prep time below doesn't include marinating time. Allow for 15-30 minutes extra.
Coconut sugar can be replaced with brown sugar or palm sugar. Omit for Whole30.


Calories: 411kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 1526mg | Potassium: 786mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3933IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 4mg
Keywords: Beef Recipes, Shaking Beef, Shaken Beef, Vietnamese Beef Salad, Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vietnamese
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Vietnamese Beef Salad (Shaken Beef, Bu Lo Lac)
Irena Macri
By Irena Macri

About the author: Hi, I’m Irena Macri. I share delicious recipes that I have cooked and loved. I am a published cookbook author, have been food blogging for over 10 years and have a Diploma in Nutrition. You will find many healthy recipes as well as my favourite comfort food. More about me here | Subscribe to my newsletter and freebies

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  1. 4 stars
    I made this shaking beef – marinated for 24 hours, along with the onions. It was delicious, but for us there was a little too much coconut sugar. Also, I’d recommend a bit more punch, so keep the chilli seeds in the marinade. Otherwise great!

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