Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Stir-fry (Bo Xao Sa Ot)

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Lemongrass beef stir-fry (Bo Xao Sa Ot) is a delicious and easy Vietnamese dish that combines tender beef with the refreshing flavors of lemongrass and the heat of red chilies. It is an excellent choice for a quick and satisfying weeknight dinner.

a plate of Vietnamese lemongrass beef stir-fry

The dish is quite common in the North of Vietnam, and can be found in both home cooked meals and restaurant offerings. We call it “bò xào sả ớt” in Vietnamese. We grew up eating it as well as a version made with veal, called “bê xào sả ớt“.

Lemongrass has a refreshing and citrusy aroma that pairs perfectly with spicy red chilies. You may have seen this Vietnamese combination in my lemongrass chili tofu recipe. The combination of these two key ingredients and a savory sauce makes this lemongrass beef stir-fry very flavorful.

Ingredients

Here are the key ingredients of this Vietnamese beef stir-fry recipe:

plates with ingredients for the recipe
  • Beef: choose a tender cut for stir-fry, such as flank steak or sirloin. Make sure you slice the beef thinly against the grain.
  • Lemongrass: it’s best to use just the tender white part of fresh lemongrass, then slice thinly.
  • Chili peppers: I recommend using two types of chilies. One is spicy bird’s-eye chili and another one is non-spicy or very mild red chili pepper. Here I use red banana peppers (ớt sừng), but I think you can use other chili varieties as long as they are red and not spicy, or just mildly spicy.

Why two types of chilies? Just like in my sate sauce recipe, if you use 100% bird’s-eye chili, the dish will be way too spicy. Besides, you may not be able to use much of it, and as a result, not much color will be added to the dish. If you cannot find any non-spicy or mildly spicy chili pepper, I suggest adding some red bell pepper and you will find more information in the Subsitutions and Customizations section.

plates with prepped ingredients for the stir-fry

How to Make Lemongrass Beef Stir-fry

The easy and quick preparation of this stir-fried beef with lemongrass makes it perfect for busy weeknights. The detailed instructions are in the recipe card, and I will just outline key cooking steps and tips here.

1️⃣ Marinate the beef: combine beef slices with five-spice powder, salt, pepper, and garlic. You can add a bit of cornstarch to help retaining the juices when we cook the beef.

2️⃣ Sauté the lemongrass: I like to cook it for a couple minutes until it has reduced in volume and the oil is infused with lemongrass fragrance.

sautéing lemongrass in a cast iron skillet

3️⃣ Sear the beef: it is important to use a heavy-bottomed pan such as a Lodge cast iron and keep it very hot. Also, work in batches if needed to ensure a quick sear to lock in the juices and maintain tenderness. 

beef slices being seared in the skillet

4️⃣ Put everything together: while the beef is still slightly pink, add oyster sauce, fish sauce, and red chilies to the pan and stir-fry quickly to combine the flavors. Try not to overcook; otherwise, the beef will dry out.

pour seasonings over the beef
add red chilies to the skillet
a skillet of stir-fried beef with lemongrass on the stovetop

How to Serve

I highly recommend sprinkling a generous amount of toasted sesame seeds over the dish when you serve it. It is optional, but it is a must in our family :).

The most traditional way to serve bo xao sa ot is with steamed rice. In addition, here are some creative ways you can try:

  • With rice vermicelli noodles: create your noodle bowl with the stir-fried beef, lettuce and fresh herbs. You can have a look at my Vietnamese beef noodle salad for a list of accompaniments for the noodle bowl.
  • With lettuce: make healthy lettuce wraps and savor the dish in a low-carb way.
a plate of Vietnamese chili lemongrass beef stir-fry

Substitutions and Customizations

  • As mentioned above, people also make this dish with veal instead of beef in Vietnam. It will also turn out great with chicken. Check out my lemongrass chicken stir-fry recipe here.
  • You can add some julienned red bell pepper and onion if desired. If so, sauté them separately and set them aside before cooking the beef, and then combine everything in the last step.

I hope you will give this easy chili lemongrass beef stir-fry a try and let me know how you serve it.

⭐️ I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment and a rating if you have tried it. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on FacebookYoutubePinterest and Instagram for the latest updates. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.

a plate of Vietnamese stir-fried beef with lemongrass

Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Stir-fry (Bo Xao Sa Ot)

Lemongrass beef stir-fry (Bò Xào Sả Ớt) is a delicious and easy Vietnamese dish that combines tender beef with the refreshing flavors of lemongrass and the heat of red chilies. It is an excellent choice for a quick and satisfying weeknight dinner.
Author: Sophie
5 from 1 vote
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 3 people

Ingredients
 

  • 14-16 oz beef, thinly sliced against the grain (flank steak or See Notes for more options)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/8 teaspoon five-spice powder, divided
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
  • 2 teaspoons cooking oil (plus more to cook)
  • 6 medium lemongrass stalks, white parts only, sliced very thinly (about 2/3 cup or 40-45g sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons julienned ginger
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 red banana peppers, or any non/mildly-spicy red chili peppers, seeds removed and thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup or 25g sliced)
  • 1 bird's-eye chili, seeds removed and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (to serve)

Instructions
 

  • Place beef slices in a mixing bowl and toss with ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon five-spice powder, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, ½ tablespoon minced garlic and 1 tablespoon water. Then add 2 teaspoons oil and mix to combine. Set aside to marinate for 10-15 minutes.
  • Place a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add some oil to coat the bottom. Add lemongrass slices once the oil is hot, stir and cook for about 2 minutes until lemongrass has reduced in volume and looked slightly golden and it smells aromatic. Transfer to a clean bowl.
  • Add julienned ginger and sauté until fragrant and softened, up to a minute. Then add the remaining minced garlic and sauté briefly until fragrant.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high, then add beef slices in a single layer and let them cook undisturbed for about 20-30 seconds to give them a nice sear. Then stir-fry for a few more seconds. Don't overcrowd the pan and cook in batches if needed.
  • While the beef is still slightly pink, add oyster sauce, fish sauce, lemongrass, all the chili peppers and remaining five-spice powder. Stir and toss quickly until beef is just cooked through and flavors are combined. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  • Transfer to serving plates. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top and serve right away.

Notes

Some beef cuts good for stir-frying are flank steak, flat iron steak and sirloin.
If you cannot find non or mildly-spicy red chilies, you can use julienned red bell peppers. You may also add some thinly sliced onions if desired. In case you use red bell peppers and/or onions, sauté them right after Step 2 then set aside. Then continue with Step 3 until the end of the recipe.
Please adjust the amount of bird’s-eye chili depending on how spicy you want the stir-fry to be.
If your pan is small or your stove is not powerful, it is best to divide and cook in two batches, starting from Step 3.
If you want to simplify the recipe, it is okay to leave out the ginger and five-spice powder. The toasted sesame seeds is optional, but I highly recommend.
The most traditional way to serve bo xao sa ot is with steamed rice. In addition, here are some creative ways you can try:
  • With rice vermicelli noodles: create your noodle bowl with the stir-fried beef, lettuce and fresh herbs.
  • With lettuce: make healthy lettuce wraps and savor the dish in a low-carb way.
The recipe can serve 3-4 people, depending on how many other dishes you serve in the meal.

Nutrition

Calories: 436kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 584mg | Potassium: 626mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 301IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 5mg
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: easy, quick, sautéed beef with lemongrass
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a plate of Vietnamese sautéed beef with lemongrass and chili

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Really good. Served it with gluten free quinoa brown rice noodles from Trader Joe’s. I did not use the peppers because I did not have them but hubby does not like spice. I used sesame oil for the marinade and drizzled some on the noodles before serving. Thank you, always looking to use up some of my lemon grass.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      Thank you so much for letting me know how it turned out and how you served it! If your husband doesn’t like spiciness, it’s possible to add bell peppers, onion slices, or throw in some scallions at the end.

      I have a few more recipes that use lemongrass in case you need additional ideas: lemongrass chicken stir-fry, roast chicken, grilled fish, lemongrass ginger tea, steamed clams, beef stew, and lemongrass pork noodle bowl. We often cook something with lemongrass every week.

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