Vietnamese Oyster Sauce Beef Recipe (Thit Bo Xao)

Vietnamese Oyster Sauce Beef Recipe (Thit Bo Xao) Recipe

Dưa leo xào thịt bò ("beef stir fry with cucumber" in Vietnamese) is really tasty because the meat is so tender it melts in your mouth. The beef stir fry sauce is both sweet and savory; I combined oyster sauce, hoisin sauce and caramelized onions.

It's not the prettiest but it's perfect for a quick and easy meal. I used filet mignon that I sliced paper-thin. I don't cook often with cucumber but in this case, it added crunch to the dish. I also added zucchini, green onions and cilantro. You can serve the dish with bún (vermicelli rice noodles), but for me, nothing can beat beef stir fry with rice. Just add đô chua condiment (pickled carrots and daikon) and you'll have a complete, balanced meal in no time.

Note: Glossary of relevant Vietnamese cooking terms.

Bò = beef

Xào = stir fry

Cơm = rice

Dưa leo = cucumber

Thịt = meat


Yields: 4 servings

1 pound filet mignon, very cold, sliced paper-thin
3 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil)
3 tablespoons caramelized onions (see tips)
1 English cucumber
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced
1 zucchini
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon palm sugar (or regular sugar), freshly grated
1 (1-inch) chunk fresh ginger
½ teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons green onions, cut into 1-½"-pieces
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 teaspoons sesame oil (optional)
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped


Prepping the cucumber: Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, remove the seeds, which will create a cavity. Slice the cucumber into ½-inch slices. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet, and place the cucumber slices on top. Sprinkle kosher salt on both sides and let sit for 1 hour. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Set aside.

Prepping the zucchini:

Trim the ends of the zucchini. Cut in half lengthwise, then slice into ½-inch slices.

In a large wok, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add the garlic and cook until slightly golden. Add the sliced zucchini. Stir until light translucent. Make sure the zucchini is cooked on both sides. It's okay if the zucchini isn't fully cooked, as it will finish cooking later in the beef stir fry sauce. You still want the zucchini slices to hold their shape. Season with salt. Transfer the zucchini to a plate. Set aside.

Freshly grated ginger: Clean the ginger root and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife (or the edge of a spoon). Grate the ginger with a fine mesh Microplane. Gather about 1 teaspoon of grated ginger root.

Prepping the beef:

Note: Make sure the beef is very cold so it's easier to slice the meat. Cut the meat perpendicular to the grain so the slices remain tender.

In a bowl, combine the beef, palm sugar, red chili powder and grated ginger. Drizzle with a little oil. Allow to marinate for about 5-10 minutes.

Assembly time:

Pat the meat dry using paper towels.

In the same wok, add more oil. Once the oil is hot (over high heat), add the green onions. Cook until they're wilted. Add the meat and quickly pan-sear each side of the pieces. Add oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and caramelized onions. Cook for about 4 minutes until the meat changes color, stirring constantly. Add the zucchini, cucumber and cilantro. Mix well. Drizzle with sesame oil.

Sprinkle with black pepper and garnish with more cilantro.

Bon appétit!


There are other cuts of steak that are likely to produce tender results, as opposed to those cuts that won’t.  Filet, sirloin, porterhouse, T-bone or New York strip will all make a tender steak cooked this way, whereas flank steak or other more fibrous cuts would not.

Briefly placing the meat in the freezer before slicing helps you control the thickness of each slice of meat. Make sure the slices are as thin as you can make them for fast cooking time.

You can find oyster sauce and hoisin sauce in any Asian market or in most supermarkets. I use Lee Kum Kee brand.

When I cook cucumbers, I usually scoop out the seeds as they make the sauce watery. Some people like to peel cucumbers; I usually peel 2-3 strips around the vegetable, using a vegetable peeler.

How to caramelize onions: Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan. Add thinly sliced onions. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the onion from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown. To save time, I often have already-caramelized onions on hand in the freezer. I suggest making them in advance in large batches. Just place about 1 tablespoon of tightly packed fried onions per slot in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes into sealable plastic bags and place back in the freezer. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on May 24, 2011.


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