Spicy steak with a pear, rocket and watercress salad recipe

The beef and marinade are traditional in this salad
The beef and marinade are traditional in this salad - Laura Edwards

This recipe is inspired by the tasty Vietnamese classic Bò Lúc Lac, or ‘shaking beef’. The beef and marinade are traditional, and here I have paired the watercress salad with some bitter and peppery rocket and delightfully sweet blush pears, and dressed it all with a tangy balsamic sauce.


Prep time: 20 minutes, plus marinating time

Cook time: 20 minutes




  • 2 rib-eye steaks, each about 300g

  • ½ tsp vegetable oil

  • 100g watercress leaves

  • 90g rocket leaves

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced lengthways

  • 2 blush pears (as firm as possible), thinly sliced

For the marinade

  • 2 tsp light soy sauce

  • 1 tsp fish sauce

  • 4 tsp sesame oil

  • 1 tsp chilli paste

  • 2 tsp garlic paste

  • 4 tsp oyster sauce

  • 60ml sweet chilli sauce

  • 20ml lime juice

For the dressing

  • 60ml olive oil

  • 1 tsp red chilli paste

  • 1 tsp garlic paste

  • 1 tsp caster sugar

  • 60ml balsamic vinegar

  • 20ml light soy sauce

  • 3 coriander stems, leaves and stems finely chopped


  1. Put the steaks into a bowl along with all the marinade ingredients plus 2 tsp ground black pepper and massage well, ensuring they are fully covered. Cover and leave in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour or, for best results, 3 hours, taking them out to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.

  2. Wipe off as much of the marinade (reserve it) as possible and set aside. Add the oil to a medium frying pan over a high heat. When hot, add the marinated steaks and toss for 1 minute until medium-rare. Take off the heat and leave to rest.

  3. Put all the dressing ingredients into a small bowl, mix together well and set aside.

  4. Once rested, slice the steaks into strips.

  5. Gently toss the watercress and rocket leaves together, then place on a large serving plate. Add the onion and pears on top, 
    then pour over the dressing, according to taste.

  6. Add the reserved marinade to a pan over a medium heat for 1 minute to warm through. Place the steak on top of the salad and drizzle over the marinade to finish.

Recipe from Vietnamese Made Easy by Thuy Diem Pham (£22, Quadrille)

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