Ultimate Bê Thui Recipe: Enjoy & Preserve Vietnam’s Veal Delicacy

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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We’ve all had those moments when we crave something utterly unique, a dish that transports us to another place with just one bite. That’s exactly what we found in the heart of Vietnam’s culinary treasure trove: Bê Thui. This delicately roasted veal dish, with its tender meat and rich flavors, is a celebration of Vietnamese cooking techniques and traditions.

Bê Thui is more than just a meal; it’s an experience. Traditionally enjoyed in gatherings, it brings people together, making it perfect for those looking to add an exotic touch to their dinner parties. The magic of this dish lies in its simplicity and the skillful blend of spices that elevate the veal to a whole new level.

Equipment and Tools Required

Embarking on the journey to create the cherished Vietnamese dish, Bê Thui, requires not just skill and passion but also the right equipment and tools. To ensure your venture into making this delicately roasted veal dish is a success, here’s what you’ll need in your culinary toolkit.

Kitchen Tools

  1. Large Roasting Pan: Opt for a heavy-duty roasting pan large enough to accommodate the veal, ensuring even roasting.
  2. Meat Thermometer: A crucial tool to guarantee the veal is perfectly cooked to the right temperature, preserving its tenderness.
  3. Sharp Chef’s Knife: For expertly slicing the roasted veal into thin, delectable pieces.
  4. Chopping Board: Preferably two: one for raw meat to avoid cross-contamination and another for vegetables and herbs.
  5. Mixing Bowls: A set of mixing bowls for preparing the marinade and salad components.
  6. Grill or Broiler: Depending on your method of roasting, a grill or broiler will be necessary to achieve that charred, smoky flavor characteristic of Bê Thui.
  7. Mortar and Pestle: Essential for grinding the spices and herbs to release their full flavors, a key step in creating an authentic Bê Thui marinade.
  8. Tongs: Handy for turning the veal during roasting or grilling, ensuring an even cook all around.
  9. Rice Straw or Hay: Traditionally, Bê Thui is roasted over rice straw or hay to impart a unique smoky aroma that distinguishes it from other roasted dishes. If you’re aiming for authenticity and have access to these, they can elevate the dish to its traditional roots.
  10. Blowtorch (Optional): For those of us without the means to roast over an open rice straw fire, a blowtorch can be used to carefully char the exterior of the veal, adding a complex layer of flavor.

Ensuring you have these tools at hand will not only make the cooking process smoother but also help in authentically replicating the rich, nuanced flavors of Bê Thui. Next, we’ll delve into the ingredients necessary to bring this culinary marvel to life.


Now that we’ve covered the equipment and traditional elements crucial for making Bê Thui, let’s dive into the ingredients that will bring this dish to life.

For the Beef

  • 2 lbs of veal shank, trimmed and cleaned
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt
  • Water, for boiling
  • 1 piece of ginger (about 2 inches), smashed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed

For the Marinade

  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of honey

For the Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup of fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 red chili, finely chopped (adjust based on heat preference)
  • 1 tablespoon of finely shredded carrot for garnish on the sauce

For the Garnish

  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup of roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • Rice paper wrappers (optional, for serving)
  • Fresh vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber, and bean sprouts (optional, for wrapping)

These ingredients blend the rich tradition of Vietnamese cuisine with the essence of Bê Thui, ensuring a dish that’s not only authentic but also bursting with flavor.

Preparation Steps

Now that we’ve covered the essentials for making Bê Thui, including the needed tools and key ingredients, let’s dive into the exciting part—marinating the beef, preparing the dipping sauce, and getting the garnish ready. Following these steps will ensure your dish is bursting with the authentic flavors and traditions of Vietnamese cuisine.

Marinating the Beef

  1. Start by cleaning the veal shank under cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels, ensuring it’s completely dry before marinating.
  2. Mince the garlic and lemongrass finely. These will be the base of your marinade, infusing the beef with aromatic flavors.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the minced garlic and lemongrass with fish sauce, soy sauce, a splash of sesame oil, and a generous helping of black pepper. Mix well to create a homogeneous marinade.
  4. Immerse the veal shank in the marinade, making sure every part of the meat is coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. For the best results, let it marinate overnight. This allows the flavors to deeply penetrate the meat.

Preparing the Dipping Sauce

  1. For the dipping sauce, finely chop one garlic clove and mix it with a teaspoon of chili paste for a spicy kick. Adjust the amount of chili paste based on your preference for heat.
  2. Juice two fresh limes into a bowl. Add three tablespoons of fish sauce, two tablespoons of water, and a tablespoon of sugar. Stir until the sugar completely dissolves.
  3. Add the chopped garlic and chili paste to the lime mixture. Mix well. Taste and adjust the flavors as necessary, aiming for a balance between spicy, salty, and sweet. Set aside for serving.

Getting the Garnish Ready

  1. Toast a handful of peanuts in a dry pan over medium heat until they’re golden brown. Let them cool, then crush them lightly.
  2. Thinly slice cucumber and carrots to create a fresh, crunchy base for your garnish. This adds a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the beef.
  3. Pick fresh herbs like mint, cilantro, and basil. These will be sprinkled on top of the dish, adding brightness and enhancing the overall flavor profile.
  4. Arrange the cucumbers, carrots, and a sprinkle of crushed peanuts on a serving plate. Have the fresh herbs ready to garnish the beef right before serving.

Following these preparation steps with care will set the stage for creating a truly impressive Bê Thui, ready to captivate your guests with its depth of flavor and aromatic allure.

Cooking Instructions

Delving into the heart of Vietnamese culinary tradition, we now embark on the journey of actually cooking the Bê Thui. With the preparations and marinating behind us, it’s time to bring this beloved dish to life.

Grilling the Beef

First up, let’s tackle grilling the beef, the centerpiece of our dish. Begin by preheating your grill or broiler to a medium-high heat, ensuring it’s hot enough to sear the meat while keeping the interior tender. If you’re going for authenticity and have access to rice straw or hay, prepare to roast the beef over this for a unique, smoky flavor. Otherwise, a regular grill will do just fine.

Remove the veal shank from the marinade, wiping off any excess but ensuring it’s still well-coated in those fragrant spices. Place the veal on the grill or roasting pan, turning every few minutes. Aim for a beautiful, charred exterior while monitoring the internal temperature. You’re looking for a final read of about 145°F for medium rare, which should take roughly 25-30 minutes depending on the thickness of your cut. Remember, patience is key here; the goal is succulent, perfectly grilled veal that melts in your mouth.

Once achieved, let the veal rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. This step is crucial as it allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring each slice is as flavorful and tender as possible.

Final Assembly

With our beef beautifully grilled and rested, it’s time for the final assembly. Retrieve your cutting board and chef’s knife, slicing the veal shank against the grain into thin, delectable pieces. The aim is consistency in thickness to ensure even flavors and textures throughout.

Lay out these slices on a platter, artistically overlapping them for visual appeal. Now, bring in the dipping sauce we prepared earlier, placing it centrally for easy access. This sauce will elevate the veal with its tangy, sweet, and salty dimensions, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.

Around the veal, artfully arrange the garnishes—fresh herbs, thinly sliced vegetables, and crushed peanuts. Each element adds a layer of complexity and freshness, contrasting beautifully with the rich, smoky veal.

Finally, present this culinary masterpiece with pride, encouraging diners to wrap the veal slices with herbs and vegetables in rice paper before dipping into the sauce. This communal aspect of Bê Thui not only enriches the dining experience but also pays homage to the Vietnamese tradition of sharing meals and stories around the table.

Gather your loved ones, share this dish, and revel in the rich tapestry of flavors, aromas, and textures that make Bê Thui a celebrated highlight of Vietnamese cuisine.

Serving Suggestions

After mastering the art of grilling the marinated veal shank and assembling it with the aromatic garnishes, the next step in our culinary journey is to delve into the best ways to serve Bê Thui. This dish isn’t just about the flavors but how it’s presented and enjoyed, emphasizing the communal dining experience integral to Vietnamese culture.

Create an Inviting Platter

We begin by arranging the thinly sliced veal on a large platter. The key here is to display the meat beautifully, showcasing its charred exterior and tender interior. Surround the veal with the fresh herbs, sliced vegetables, and roasted peanuts we’ve prepared earlier. This not only adds a splash of color to our platter but also allows diners to customize their wraps to their liking.

Preparing the Wrap Station

To truly embrace the communal aspect of Bê Thui, set up a wrap station with rice paper, a bowl of warm water for dipping the rice paper, and the fresh herbs and vegetables. Encourage your guests to dip the rice paper into the water to soften it, then lay it flat on their plates. This is where the fun begins – diners can create their own wraps by adding slices of veal, herbs, vegetables, and a sprinkle of peanuts before rolling it tightly.

Dipping Sauce on the Side

Do not forget the crucial dipping sauce we prepared. Place it in small bowls or a communal bowl, so each diner can spoon some onto their wrap or dip their creations directly into the sauce. The vibrant flavors of the sauce will complement the richness of the veal and the freshness of the herbs and vegetables.

Enjoy with Traditional Drinks

Lastly, to wash down the flavors of Bê Thui, offer your guests traditional Vietnamese beverages such as iced tea or beer. These drinks not only refresh the palate but also enhance the overall dining experience, making every bite of Bê Thui more enjoyable.

Make-Ahead Tips

When preparing Bê Thui, a beautifully intricate Vietnamese veal dish, we know that time management and preparation can significantly enhance the dining experience. Thus, we’ve gathered some make-ahead tips that allow you to enjoy the richness of this dish with less stress during the final cooking stages.

Marinate the Veal Overnight

One of the secrets to a deeply flavorful Bê Thui lies in the marinade. Mix the lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce, and soy sauce as directed, then thoroughly coat the veal shank. By marinating the veal overnight in the refrigerator, you ensure that the meat becomes tender and absorbs the vibrant flavors of the spices and sauces. This step not only elevates the taste but also streamlines your cooking process the following day.

Prepare the Dipping Sauce in Advance

The dipping sauce, with its complex flavors, can be prepared ahead of time. Combine the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, water, minced garlic, and chili peppers in a bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely. This sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days, allowing its flavors to meld beautifully.

Toast and Crush Peanuts

Toasted peanuts add a delightful crunch and nuttiness to Bê Thui. Toasting and then crushing the peanuts can be done a day in advance. Once cool, store them in an airtight container at room temperature. This way, they retain their crunchiness and are ready to be sprinkled over the dish just before serving.

Prep the Garnishes

Garnishes play a significant role in adding freshness and color to Bê Thui. Slice vegetables, chop herbs, and prepare any other garnishes the night before. Store them in separate containers in the refrigerator to maintain their crispness. Before serving, simply take them out, and they are ready to accompany the veal.

By following these make-ahead tips, you can significantly reduce the prep time on the day of cooking. This not only makes the final assembly of Bê Thui smoother but also allows more time to enjoy the company of friends and family, embodying the communal spirit of this beloved Vietnamese dish.

Storing Leftovers

After enjoying the communal feast of Bê Thui with friends and family, you might find yourself with leftovers. Properly storing these leftovers not only extends their shelf life but also ensures that the delightful flavors of this Vietnamese delicacy remain intact. Let’s walk you through the best practices for keeping your Bê Thui tasting as fresh as when you first served it.

Refrigerating Bê Thui

Firstly, ensure that any remaining veal and sides cool down to room temperature before attempting to store them. This prevents condensation inside the containers, which could lead to soggy leftovers. Divide the veal into manageable portions. This makes it easier to only reheat what you’ll eat later, reducing the risk of spoilage from reheating multiple times.

Place the veal in airtight containers. For the garnishes and dipping sauce, separate containers are best to keep flavors distinct and fresh. Once packed, the leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator. Generally, the veal should be consumed within three days for optimal taste and safety.

Freezing the Leftovers

If you have a significant amount of Bê Thui left, freezing might be the better option for keeping it longer. To freeze, wrap the veal portions tightly in freezer-safe wrap or bags. This method is especially suitable for the meat, less so for the garnishes or sauces, which may not freeze well. Label each package with the date, so you know when it needs to be consumed. Properly frozen, the veal can last up to two months. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating gently to preserve its tenderness.

Reheating Stored Bê Thui

Reheating is crucial to reviving the Bê Thui’s original flavors and textures. The best way to reheat the veal is by using an oven or a stovetop. In the oven, cover the veal with foil to prevent it from drying out, reheating it at 325°F until it’s just warmed through. On the stovetop, use a covered skillet over low heat, adding a few tablespoons of water or broth to help retain moisture. Avoid microwaving if possible, as it can change the texture of the meat and make it less enjoyable.


We’ve walked through the delightful journey of making Bê Thui, from its rich cultural roots to the joy of sharing it with friends and family. We’ve also covered how to keep this wonderful dish tasting great for days to come. Remember, the essence of Bê Thui isn’t just in its flavors but in the experiences it brings to the table. So next time you’re looking for a meal that brings people together, you know what to make. Here’s to delicious meals and even better company!

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