Vietnamese-Inspired Shredded Beef Bowls

Updated: May 18

Savory shredded beef cooked in soy sauce pairs perfectly with acidic pickled vegetables, crunchy cucumbers, and a kick of jalapeno. Enjoy for family dinner or weekly meal prep!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds chuck roast

  • Salt

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 cucumbers

  • 2 jalapenos

  • 10 oz shredded veggies

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar

  • Cilantro to garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Salt the beef about 24 hours in advance and refrigerate (this won't make it dry, read below to learn why).

  2. Put the beef in a crockpot and top with soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.

  3. Cook on low for 7 hours.

  4. After removing visible fat, shred the beef and mix it into the juices.

  5. Cook 1 more hour on low.

  6. While the beef is cooking for the last hour, slice the cucumbers and jalapenos.

  7. Toss the shredded veggies with the vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt for a quick pickle.

  8. Assemble the bowls with beef, pickled veggies, cucumber, jalapeno, and cilantro.

  9. Serve immediately or divide into equal portions for meal prep.

This could also be served on rice, in a lettuce wrap, or on Bahn-Mi (Vietnamese bread similar to a baguette).


Bahn Mi?

Something interesting I discovered when I was going to name this recipe is that Bahn-Mi is bread. I was going to call this "Bahn-Mi" inspired because that's what I see all over Pinterest with these types of recipes. It seems that something got lost in translation as it became Americanized. Bahn-Mi is typically used to make sandwiches. The sandwiches are filled with meat, spices, and pickled vegetables. Basically, calling these kinds of recipes Bahn-Mi would be like someone making a chicken power bowl and calling it "Baguette". So I went with Vietnamese inspired instead!


Science of Salting

Let's talk about why it's important to salt your roast ahead of time. I used to believe that salting ahead of time dried out meat because salt draws out water through osmosis. But then I read Salt Fat Acid Heat, which is a science based cooking book. Then I tried it for myself and the meat is so fall-apart-tender, juicy, and delicious!


The key is to salt the meat at the right time. For roasts and tough cuts of meat like in this recipe, 24 hours in advance works well. If you forget to do it that early, then some time is better than none. Other types of meats like chicken breast, fish, and whole turkey require different times as well, but I won't get into that in this post.


Proteins are made up of strands of loose coils and that trap water molecules. During cooking, protein denatures (unravels) releasing the water molecules. Then as it continues to cook, the unraveled proteins interact with each other (coagulate) and squeeze the water out.

When the meat is salted in advance, the salt will dissolve into the protein strands, drawing in more water (osmosis) and causing them to swell. This leads to more protein-water bonds instead of just protein-protein bonds. During cooking, the water bound to the protein doesn't get released when the strands denature. As cooking continues, the proteins can't densely coagulate again and squeeze out water because the water is bound. The water molecules remain in the protein structures instead of being squeezed out, and now you have moist, tender meat! (Sorry I don't have an image for this, but hopefully you can picture it).


Just be wary of salting too early. If you do that then the meat will start to dry out and cure. If you salt your roast and realize you aren't going to get to your recipe then tightly wrap it and freeze it until you're ready to cook it.


Enjoy!

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