Shaking beef is an explosion of flavor that is simple and straight-forward to make at your campsite. The big umami flavor of the beef, combined with the herbal salad with hints of rice vinegar, and the bright clean notes of the cherry tomatoes will satisfy both the carnivores and the salad lovers at your campsite.
We’ve rated this recipe as EASY due to the relatively few steps and the quick cooking process at the campsite. Bring an over-sized mixing bowl to toss the salad in to make it even easier.
Shaking beef is a Vietnamese classic that gets its name from the shaking motion the cook makes while cooking the beef cubes in an extremely hot pan.
Since you need to get the pan screaming hot and there’s a bit of sugar in the marinade, we recommend using a nonstick pan for this recipe. This will help keep the marinade from sticking and burning and make clean up easy.
What is Umami?
To introduce this recipe, I think first it’s a good idea to explain what umami is.
We are all aware of the taste categories of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Umami is the fifth category of taste. It can be described as brothy or meaty with a long-lasting, mouthwatering, and a coating sensation over the tongue.
They also have a distinct aroma of stinky feet.
Don’t be put off by the stinky feet smell though. It’ll all come together after it’s cooked and combined with the salad.
It might be a good idea to bring some breath mints on your camping trip though.
If you want to know more about umami, Wikipedia goes into more detail. This recipe is an excellent way to truly get a handle on what exactly umami is, beyond reading about it on the internet.
Bringing it all Together
The big umami flavor of the beef and marinade needs a bold salad to balance it out.
We use quite a bit of herbs in our shaking beef salad to amp up the flavor. This is important to keep the strong flavor of the beef from overpowering it.
The acidity of the vinegar and cherry tomatoes round out the salad with brighter notes.
It is important to not mix the salad until you are ready to serve. The onions are in the vinegar so that they will create a quick pickle, and the vinegar will wilt the salad fairly quickly.
If it is mixed right before serving, the leafy vegetables will remain crisp and the sharpness of the onions will be reduced.
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Camp Stove Shaking Beef
- 1/3 cup red onions - very thinly sliced
- 2 tbs. water
- 2 tbs. rice vinegar
- 2 tsp. white sugar
- 1/2 tsp. Morton's Kosher Salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 4 cups mixed salad greens - a variety with arugula is nice
- 1/2 lb. cherry tomatoes - halved
- 1/8 cup fresh mint - torn
- 1/4 cup basil - torn
Before You Leave Home
- Stir together oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce, black pepper, and garlic. Store in a leak-proof container.
At the Campsite
- To make a quick red onion pickle, mix the rice vinegar, water, sugar, salt, pepper, and red onion in a large mixing bowl.
- Thoroughly mix cornstarch into the oyster sauce mixture that you made at home.
- Cut beef into 1-inch cubes and add to oyster sauce mixture, being sure to fully coat all pieces. Set aside to marinade for about thirty minutes.
- Add salad greens on top of the red onions, along with torn basil, mint, and halved cherry tomatoes. Do not mix together yet.
- Heat a nonstick frying pan over high heat, and add oil. When the oil is beginning to smoke add your beef cubes. Be careful, the oil may pop a little. Cook on high shaking and flipping until all sides are cooked. About 4-5 minutes depending on the heat output of your campstove.
- Thoroughly toss salad. Add to serving bowls and top with beef cubes.