Cambodian Beef Lok Lak: authentic recipe
When I was a little girl, having Beef Lok Lak on the dinner table was a rare occasion in Siem Reap. It was considered a special food, and it was expensive. When we had a ceremony or a birthday, then I walked with my mom to the market. She carefully selected the best beef from the muslim butchers. Back home, the beef was marinated following the authentic Cambodian Beef Lok Lak recipe and then kept cool in our ice box, since we did not have a fridge at that time.
What is Beef Lok Lak? You might have wondered why this simple dish is so nowadays popular in Cambodia. Beef Lok Lak is a beef stir-fry set up with onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce , served with rice and a fried egg. To make it even more tasty Cambodians would dip the beef in sauce made of pepper, salt and lime juice.
Authentic Cambodian Beef Lok Lak recipe made without tomatoes
The dish is originally part of the Vietnamese cuisine, where its called called “Bò lúc lắc”, Bò means “beef” and lúc lắc means “stir” or “shake” It originated from the influence of Chinese and French during the period of the Indochinese colonization, when Vietnam was under Chinas rule for a nearly a millennium. Some historians say, it was then brought to Cambodia to please the French occupiers.
They were known as people who like to eat beef and salad, both food that was not popular with Vietnamese or Cambodians. To give it as Asian touch, the soy sauce and oyster sauce was added. Thats how the authentic Cambodian Beef Lok Lak recipe was developed. There are – as with any other most famous Cambodian food – different varieties. Some used deer they hunted from the nearby forrest, others used wild boar. Lok Lak then traveled then trough Cambodia and eventually gain it’s popularity among Khmer citizen. The Khmer dish got well-known in Cambodia because of it tastiness, elegance set up and it is convenience to cook.
Tomato or no tomato?
There is a division about the use of tomato sauce. The authentic Cambodian Beef Lok Lak recipe doesn’t have any, but in many restaurants its added to increase the taste and sweetness. Also, Vietnamese refugees brought the dish to America, where ketchup is added to many dishes. That might be a reason, why many restaurants catering to foreigners offer this version. Also the fried egg might be a modern addition as well as replacing the rice with french fries (often called Beef Lol Lak Barang). But a homemade Beef Lok Lak, the way our hosts Srey Moch in Siem Reap and Naysim in Phnom Penh make it, the sauce is only made with the original ingredients.
Follow the links if you want to try making authentic Cambodian Beef Lok Lak it as well.
Authentic Cambodian Beef Lok Lak recipe:
- In a large bowl, mix beef cubes with soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, fish sauce and ground black pepper and minced garlic. Marinate at least 20 minutes or up to one hour.
- Cook the jasmine rice for 30 minutes
- Make the dipping sauce, combine ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Decorate two dinner plates with sliced tomatoes, cucumber and onion. Set aside.
- Place the lettuce leaves on a separate platter.
- Heat oil in a wok over a high heat and stir-fry beef until cooked. Divide between the two dinner plates.
- Fry two eggs sunny side up
- 300g beef steak, sliced
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoons palm or brown sugar
- 2 garlic cloves (finely sliced)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- vegetable oil
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 2 eggs (optional)
For the Cambodian Beef Lok Lak dipping sauce
- 2 juice from 2 limes or lemons
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- splash of fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1cucumber, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- ½ Onion (finely sliced)
- A few leaves lettuce
Author: Sopha LEM