Bo Tai Chanh, is a tasty Vietnamese dish with rare beef soaked in tangy lime juice and served with an array of fresh herbs and ingredients. It’s a bit like an Italian dish called Carpaccio, where they use super-thin or rare beef. This dish is perfect for making your game-watching time even better.

The meaning of bò tái chanh is (bò meaning beef, tái meaning undercooked or rare, and chanh meaning lemon) showcases tender beef prepared raw or slightly cooked in zesty lime juice. It’s beautifully complemented with traditional Vietnamese salad ingredients like aromatic herbs such as long cilantro (culantro or ngò gai), rice paddy herb (rau mò om), and Thai basil (rau quế).

This dish also has pickled onions, galangal, crispy fried onions, and a touch of heat from hot peppers. Everything is seasoned with nuoc mam sauce and garnished with fresh veggies.

The Story Behind the Recipe

The origins of the popular Vietnamese dish, Bò tái chanh, may surprise you, as it is not originally Vietnamese. This delightful creation draws direct inspiration from traditional dishes found in neighboring countries, such as “lap sine ngoua” from Laos and “beef salad,” also known as “plea sach ko,” from Cambodia.

In Vietnam, the consumption of raw meat is not a common practice in the culinary culture. Instead, the typical preparation involves using boiled beef that is marinated in lime juice and lightly seared. In southern Vietnam, this dish is a favorite among those partaking in the practice of “ăn nhậu” (where “ăn” means eat and “nhậu” means drinking alcohol). It is a dish primarily enjoyed by men and serves as a perfect appetizer for social gatherings.

How to make Bo Tai Chanh

I got the idea to make it after trying it at a Vietnamese place, and I was really impressed by how yummy it was. So, today, I’m going to show you how to make it at home. Let’s begin!


Before we begin, let’s gather all the ingredients you’ll need to create this delightful dish:

  • Fresh thinly sliced beef (approximately 500 grams)
  • 2 red or yellow onions (thin slices)
  • A knob of garlic (Peel and mince)
  • Some fried shallots
  • Crushed roasted peanuts
  • Your favorite fresh Vietnamese herbs (options include basil, rice paddy herbs, or long cilantro)
  • Red peppers (thin slices)
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of lime juice
  • Salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon each)
  • 1 teaspoon of stock powder (optional)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Prawn crackers (for serving)


Now that we have all our ingredients ready, let’s go step by step to create this delectable Bò Tái Chanh:

1: Prepare the Onions

Thinly slice the red or yellow onions and soak them in a bowl of ice-cold water. This step helps reduce the strong onion smell and makes the onions crispy.

Drain the onions well and mix them with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of vinegar. Set this mixture aside for 15 minutes to create sweet and sour onions.

2: Prepare the Lime Juice

Roll the limes under your palms on the counter to make them more juicy, then cut them in half and squeeze out approximately 1/2 cup of lime juice.

3: Season and Marinate the Beef

Use fresh, thinly sliced beef, such as filet mignon. Season the beef slices with salt, pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon each), and approximately 1 tablespoon of sugar. This sugar balances out the sourness of the lime juice.

Mix the seasonings evenly into every slice of beef. You can use chopsticks or your hands for this step.

Leave the beef to marinate for 10 minutes, then add the lime juice. The acidity of the lime juice will “cook” the beef. Cover and refrigerate for an additional 15 minutes until the beef changes color from raw to rare.

4: Prepare the Fried Garlic

In a pan, add about 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and fry the minced garlic until it turns golden brown. Quickly pour the fried garlic and hot oil into the marinated beef mixture and mix well to infuse additional flavor.

5: Assemble the Salad

On a large serving platter, arrange a generous amount of fresh Vietnamese herbs. Top the herbs with the sweet-and-sour pickled onions. Place the rare beef on top of the onions.

Garnish the dish with roasted crushed peanuts, crispy fried shallots, more red pepper slices for added heat and color, and a side of prawn crackers.

6: Serve and Enjoy

To serve, mix your preferred dipping sauce (such as anchovy sauce) and place it on top of the prawn crackers. The Bò Tái Chanh salad pairs perfectly with a refreshing sip of beer or your favorite beverage.

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Pairing Suggestions for Bo Tai Chanh

When you’re thinking about what goes perfectly with Bo Tai Chanh, there are some tasty choices you can consider. You can go with some soft rice vermicelli noodles, which work great as a base alongside Bo Tai Chanh. This will let your guests create their own bowls by adding noodles, beef, fresh herbs, and peanuts. They can drizzle the leftover dressing on top. It will add different textures and make the meal more filling.

Another good idea is having a small bowl of Vietnamese dipping sauce called nuoc cham on the side with Bo Tai Chanh. This is a tangy sauce made from fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic, and chili. People use it to dip the beef or pour it on the wraps for extra flavor.

If you want something refreshing, then you can serve a plate of fresh veggies like cucumber slices, crunchy bean sprouts, and shredded carrots. These veggies will add a crispy touch to the wraps or can be enjoyed as a simple salad.

For a hearty meal, you can also serve steamed rice alongside Bo Tai Chanh. The fragrant rice will goes really well with the flavorful beef.

As a starter, you can offer Vietnamese spring rolls. These are made with rice paper filled with fresh veggies, herbs, and sometimes shrimp or pork. These ingredients create a nice contrast to Bo Tai Chanh and add a fun element to your meal.

To finish your meal with a sweet twist, you can consider serving Vietnamese iced coffee. It’s a sweet and strong coffee made with a Vietnamese coffee filter, poured over ice with condensed milk. The creamy sweetness pairs nicely with the bold flavors of Bo Tai Chanh and makes for a refreshing drink to end your meal.


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