Updated: Mar 26, 2021
The aroma coming from this sizzling Vietnamese classic is bound to make your mouth water. I've veganized one of my favorite dishes growing up (made by my grandma of course), and I'm so excited to share it with you all. This was also the first time I've made seitan, and I was shocked at how realistic it was. At first glance, this dish could fool even the pickiest of meat-eaters.
Bo luc lac, which translates directly to "shaking beef" is a classic Vietnamese entree served on a bed of rice, accompanied by fresh lettuce and sliced tomatoes. The flavors are sweet, savory, and definitely rich. For this recipe, I created seitan cubes that are juicy and tender, mimicking the fatty steak cubes used in the non-vegan version of this dish.
Seitan is a meat-substitute made from wheat gluten. There are many variations of how to make seitan, but they all start off with either the washed flour method or using prepared vital wheat gluten. The washed flour method separates the starch and gluten from wheat flour, while vital wheat gluten has been prepared already and sold in stores.
The washed flour method has been getting traction online. It's a great option if you can't find vital wheat gluten in your area (or online). Since I don't have the time to go through the entire flour-washing process, I opted for vital wheat gluten (I prefer to simplify my recipes as much as possible).
We were amazed by how realistic the seitan cubes looked, since this was our first attempt at making seitan. The process of making vegan shaking beef consists of two phases:
Preparing the seitan
Cooking the seitan
I will break down the process in the steps below.
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Vegan Vietnamese Shaking "Beef" (Bo Luc Lac Chay)
1. Making Seitan Dough
1 tbsp mushroom seasoning (7g)
2 tbsp ketchup (40g)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (15g)
1/2 tbsp garlic powder (3g)
1/2 tbsp onion powder (3g)
3 tbsp soy sauce (30ml)
1 cup cooked brown lentils (170g)
1 cup vegetable broth (250ml)
1.5 cups vital wheat gluten (250g)
Simmer Broth Ingredients
3 cups vegetable broth (750ml)
2.5 cups water (625ml)
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
Add all dough ingredients (except vital wheat gluten and vegetable broth) to food processor. Blend until smooth.
In large bowl, combine the blended ingredients with vital wheat gluten and vegetable broth. Stir until just until wheat gluten is combined, and you can pick dough up in one piece. Then pour dough onto a clean surface and begin kneading.
Lightly knead dough just until the ingredients come together. Make sure to not knead too much. Let dough rest for 5 minutes. Then lightly press dough until you form a ~1 inch thick disk. Then cut into 4 pieces of equal size.
In medium-sized stock pot, fill with simmer broth ingredients: vegetable broth, water, and liquid smoke. Add seitan dough to pot. Bring pot to a simmer (medium-low heat), then continue simmering for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes check the texture. If it's too tough for your preference, keep simmering for another 15 minutes.
Strain seitan from pot, and set aside to cool.
2. Seitan Preparation and Cooking
~1lb seitan or 1/2 of amount made from above
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp mushroom seasoning
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 cup water
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
2 tbsp vegetable oil - for searing
2 tbsp unsalted vegan butter
1/4 brown onion, sliced ~1/2 inch wide
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
3-4 tbsp sugar
Cut seitan into 1 inch chunks (try to make them as cube-like as possible).
In a medium-sized bowl, add all marinade ingredients and stir until all ingredients are combined. Then add desired amount of seitan. Make sure marinade covers seitan, and add additional water as needed. Let seitan sit in marinade for 1 hour. Remove when you are ready to cook.
In medium-sized pan, add vegetable oil, and turn heat onto high. Once oil is hot, seitan to pan and begin searing. Make sure to not over-crowd the pan. Sear on all sides until seitan is lightly charred (2 - 3 minutes). Remove from pan and set aside.
In the same pan, turn heat to medium-high and add 1 tbsp unsalted vegan butter.
Once butter is melted and hot, add onions. Saute until onions are softened (3-4 minutes).
Add soy sauce, sugar, and 1 tbsp of vegan butter to pan. Saute onions until butter is melted. Then add seitan cubes.
Cook seitan on medium-high heat until the cubes are golden brown. Taste test and add additional sugar or salt as needed.
Set aside and serve with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and rice.
If you don't have the time to make your own seitan, you can buy pre-made vegan steak pieces. Check out the frozen section of your grocery store. I highly recommend the Gardein Homestyle Beefless Tips. They are the perfect size and texture for this recipe. You can use the same marinade as this recipe, but only use 1-2 tbsp of soy sauce. The pre-made vegan meat will have some salt added already, so be mindful of over-salting. When in doubt, add less salt/soy sauce. You can always add more later since the Gardein vegan beef absorbs flavor really well.
If you can't find a vegan beef substitute for the seitan, you can use tofu. To prepare the tofu, wrap a 16 oz block of tofu in a towel and press it for 10 - 15 minutes. Then cut into ~1 inch chunks and fry them. After frying, toss in the marinade. All of the marinade and cooking instructions will be the same after that (including the searing).
The longer you boil the seitan, the more tender (and easier to pull apart) it will be. Don't boil for too long otherwise you will end up with more of a shredded texture (which is still good, but not what we're going for in this recipe)
Try this recipe out, and let us know how it goes. This is our first seitan recipe, and we promise that there will be many more to come. Follow us on Instagram and TikTok to follow us on our seitan journey (: