Lok Lak (Cambodian Pepper Beef) Lettuce Wraps Recipe

Lok Lak is a popular Cambodian beef dish that originates in Vietnam, where it goes by the name of bò lúc lắc. "Bò" is Vietnamese for beef, while "lúc lắc" means stir or shake, hence why you may have heard the dish referred to in English as "shaking beef." As recipe developer Julianne De Witt says of her take on this steak stir-fry served with salad and rice, "The combination of sweet peppery beef and citrusy sauce really works together," resulting in a dish feels "decadent but light and healthy at the same time." Better yet, De Witt says, "Although this recipe contains several ingredients and there is a bit of preparation involved, it's very easy to put together."

De Witt recommends using flank steak for this dish because "it works well with the marinade that serves to tenderize the meat." If you don't have 30 minutes to marinate the beef before cooking, De Witt says you're welcome to skip that step, but in that case, she advises using a well-marbled cut of steak that doesn't need much tenderizing. Marinated or not, she assures that the meat "cooks within minutes," so you won't need to spend a lot of time over a hot stove — a real plus if you're looking for refreshing new meals to add to your summertime repertoire.

Collect the ingredients for lok lak (Cambodian pepper beef) lettuce wraps

In addition to the steak, you'll also need chicken stock, cornstarch, soy sauce, oyster sauce, tomato paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, and Kampot peppercorns for the marinade, as well as vegetable oil for stir-frying. Once cooked, the beef will be accompanied by a sauce made from lime juice, salt, garlic, and granulated sugar, plus a platter of jasmine rice, romaine lettuce, scallions, and sliced tomatoes.

Step 1: Toast the peppercorns

Place 1 tablespoon Kampot peppercorns in a small saucepan over medium heat. Swirl around in the pan until lightly toasted and fragrant, approximately 1 minute.

Step 2: Crush the peppercorns

Using a mortar and pestle, crush the peppercorns.

Step 3: Mix up the marinade

Add 1 ½ teaspoons crushed Kampot pepper to a small bowl, reserving the rest for later. Whisk in the chicken stock, cornstarch, soy sauce, oyster sauce, tomato paste, fish sauce, and brown sugar.

Step 4: Marinate the steak

Add flank steak to a large bowl along with half of the marinade. Toss to combine and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and no more than 1 hour.

Step 5: Make the lime and pepper sauce

Meanwhile, prepare the lime pepper sauce by adding the lime juice, salt, sugar, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon crushed Kampot pepper to a small bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.

Step 6: Heat the cooking oil

To make the stir-fry, add the oil to a wok over medium-high heat.

Step 7: Fry the beef

Add the beef and sear briefly, about 2 minutes.

Step 8: Pour in the leftover marinade and aromatics

Add leftover marinade, garlic, and scallions and stir-fry until the beef is cooked through and sauce has thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Step 9: Put some lettuce and tomatoes on a platter

To serve, arrange lettuce leaves and tomatoes on a large platter.

Step 10: Top with beef and scallions, and enjoy

Top with beef and scallions and enjoy right away with jasmine rice and lime pepper sauce on the side.

How are lok lak (Cambodian pepper beef) lettuce wraps served and stored?

For presentation purposes, De Witt serves this version of lok lak in the form of a composed salad, piling the meat atop a base of lettuce leaves and sliced tomatoes with rice on the side and a green onion garnish. If you would like to eat it as a salad, you may go ahead and do so, but you can also roll up a few pieces of steak in each lettuce leaf to make wraps if you prefer. The peppery lime sauce can either be used as a dip or poured on top of the meat, vegetables, and rice.

If you're not planning to eat all of the lok lak in a single meal, De Witt notes that "leftovers taste even better the next day." She says the meat and sauce should last for up to 4 days in the refrigerator, while leftover rice can also be reheated for an encore performance. It's best, however, to prepare only as much of the lettuce, tomatoes, and scallions as you'll need at one time, since they won't stay crisp once they've been chopped and drizzled with dressing.

What are Kampot peppercorns and what can be substituted for them in these lok lak (Cambodian pepper beef) lettuce wraps?

Kampot pepper is a type of pepper that grows in Cambodia's Kampot province, hence the name. Some connoisseurs consider it to be a premier pepper variety, and it is known for having a rather fruity flavor. Per De Witt, black Kampot peppercorns (they also come in white, green, and red varieties) have a "bold, peppery flavor with hints of eucalyptus and citrus" that she feels "pairs particularly well with red meats."

If you cannot find Kampot peppercorns, that doesn't mean you'll have to pass up this lok lak recipe. De Witt assures us that it's perfectly OK to replace them with another kind of whole black peppercorn instead. Even if this substitute pepper is lacking in Kampot's signature eucalyptus-citrus notes, toasting the peppercorns before crushing them in a mortar and pestle will ensure that they still provide plenty of flavor.

Lok Lak (Cambodian Pepper Beef) Lettuce Wraps Recipe
5 from 26 ratings
Sweet, citrusy, and peppery, this flank steak stir-fry is easy to make and pairs perfectly with crisp lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and rice.
Prep Time
40
minutes
Cook Time
8
minutes
Servings
4
servings
beef with salad and rice
Total time: 48 minutes
Ingredients
  • For the marinated steak
  • 1 ½ teaspoons crushed black Kampot peppercorns (See directions for preparation)
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 pounds flank steak, cut into small cubes
  • For the lime pepper sauce
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed Kampot peppercorns
  • For the stir-fry
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 scallions, chopped
  • For serving
  • Romaine lettuce leaves
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Chopped scallions
  • Steamed jasmine rice
Directions
  1. Place 1 tablespoon Kampot peppercorns in a small saucepan over medium heat. Swirl around in the pan until lightly toasted and fragrant, approximately 1 minute.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the peppercorns.
  3. Add 1 ½ teaspoons crushed Kampot pepper to a small bowl, reserving the rest for later. Whisk in the chicken stock, cornstarch, soy sauce, oyster sauce, tomato paste, fish sauce, and brown sugar.
  4. Add flank steak to a large bowl.
  5. Add half of the marinade to the flank steak, toss to combine, and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and no more than 1 hour.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the lime pepper sauce by adding the lime juice, salt, sugar, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon crushed Kampot pepper to a small bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
  7. To make the stir-fry, add the oil to a wok over medium-high heat.
  8. Add the beef, reserving the marinade for the next step, and sear briefly, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add leftover marinade, garlic, and scallions and stir-fry until the beef is cooked through and sauce has thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  10. To serve, arrange lettuce leaves and tomatoes on a large platter.
  11. Top with beef and scallions and enjoy right away with jasmine rice and lime pepper sauce on the side.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 501
Total Fat 26.3 g
Saturated Fat 8.4 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 154.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 14.0 g
Dietary Fiber 2.2 g
Total Sugars 4.7 g
Sodium 2,008.4 mg
Protein 51.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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