This Vietnamese beef dish is a quick, easy and delicious stir fry, served with fresh watercress and lime wedges or try the optional seasoned lime juice dipping sauce.

Shaking Beef with Watercress

This beef stir fry is one of my favourites. The beef itself cooks up really quickly and is a wonderful combination of flavours. The hot beef is served on top of peppery fresh watercress, that wilts a bit from the hot meat. Together with the sauce, it’s a lovely combination. To top it off, a drizzle of fresh lime juice really makes the flavours pop.

As for the beef, I usually just buy stir fry strips, but any beef will work just fine. The beef does need a 2 hour marinating time, so be sure to plan ahead for that.

I love to serve this dish with rice. Alongside, serve either lime wedges, that you would drizzle over the beef, or serve with the optional lime dipping sauce, which is fresh lime juice mixed with a little salt and pepper.

Cook’s Notes

The name of this dish comes from the action of shaking the beef in the pan when you add the sauce. In case you were wondering :)

This dish tends to the salty side, with both salty soy sauce and added salt. If you have low-sodium soy sauce, I would recommend it. You can also adjust the amount of added salt to taste.

I love fresh watercress, but if you can’t find any, arugula, spinach, baby kale or another similar green would be fine.

Don’t skip the lime! Either serve with lime wedges or the lime dipping sauce, but definitely use limes. It really elevates this dish.

Vietnamese Shaking Beef with Watercress

Get the Recipe: Vietnamese Shaking Beef with Watercress

Fast, easy and delicious beef stir fry, served with fresh watercress, lime wedges and rice. Optional lime and salt dipping sauce, as well!
5 stars from 1 rating
Prep Time: 2 hrs 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs 20 mins
Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 lb beef strips


  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable, canola or other neutral cooking oil


  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 Tbsp soy sauce (low sodium, if you have)
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce

Stir Fry:

  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 stalks green onion, cut in to 1-inch pieces, (green part only)
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced, (red or yellow onion)
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp. water

For Serving:

  • Lime wedges
  • 1 bunch fresh watercress

Dipping Sauce:

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp. fine salt)
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper


  • Combine beef with marinade ingredients and stir to coat well. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.
  • Make sauce by stirring together all the sauce ingredients. Set aside. If serving with rice, start the rice cooking about 15 minutes before you start cooking the beef. Cut green onion and onion and set aside.
  • Heat 1 Tbsp. of the oil in a wok over medium-high heat until very hot. Add 1/2 of the beef, 1/2 of the green onion and 1/2 of the red onion to the pan in one layer and allow to cook, undisturbed for 2 minutes. Flip over and cook the other side of the meat for 1 minute. Remove to a plate and repeat process with other half of the beef, green onion and red onion.
  • Add sauce to pan, shaking to loosen the meat. Add beef from plate back in to the pan. Cook, until sauce simmers, then add cornstarch mixture. Cook until sauce is hot and thickened.
  • To serve, place some fresh watercress on a plate. Top with hot beef. Serve with some rice and additional lime wedges and/or lime dipping sauce.
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Course: Main Course
Author: Jennifer
Calories: 417kcal
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