Vietnamese Shaking Beef Salad (Paleo, GF)

This Vietnamese beef salad is inspired by one of my favourite dishes – shaking 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.

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

If you ever dine at a Vietnamese restaurant, you will often find the dish called bu lo lac or 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. 

Vietnamese beef salad inspired by shaking beef recipe


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. 

Marinade for shaking beef and pickled onions for the salad

Make ahead: 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 Ziploc bag for 2 months (simply defrost overnight in the fridge).

Enjoy this beef salad as is or serve 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! 

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Vietnamese beef salad inspired by shaking beef recipe

Vietnamese Shaking Beef Salad (Paleo, Gluten-Free)

  • Author: Irena Macri
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese


Bursting with savoury-sweet flavours, nutrients and protein, this Vietnamese beef salad 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 or a large frying pan or a grill pan for cooking of the beef.



For the beef and marinade
400500 g / about 1lb of beef steak, diced into cubes (I suggest rump, sirloin, fillet)

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon Tamari sauce (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 sauce or coconut aminos

1 1/2 teaspoons coconut sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon water

For the salad
2 heads of gem lettuce, separated and washed

23 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.

Keywords: salad, beef, Asian, beef salad,

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


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

About the author: I share tasty recipes, tips, and meal plans to help you get healthier and lose weight. I am a qualified nutrition coach with an Advanced Diploma in Nutrition & Weight Management. More about me here.

PS. Some posts contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission for purchases made through these links.


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  1. 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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