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Lok Lak

December 11, 2012
Lok Lak

My parents are visiting, their first trip to Australia, so I was inspired to make some Khmer food. One of the first dishes my mom ever taught me was Lok Lak, simply because it is one of the most basic yet authentic dishes.  We used to joke that it was also so silly to go to a restaurant and order Lok Lak for triple the price when you could make it in less than 15 minutes.  Lok Lak is a basic beef dish (my wavering vegetarian days always lose against authentic Khmer food) served on a bed of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers (optional), and a side dressing of lemon pepper sauce.

The beauty about this dish, like many other Khmer dishes, is that the measurements are variable. Use as much or as little of each ingredient as you like…as long as you think it tastes good!  You don’t lose the flavor or authenticity when expanding the portions to feed more people, which was a definite bonus in our house (as my brother eats enough for 5 people).

Here is the simple and easy recipe:

Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes


Cos lettuce, white onion, tomatoes and beef

Cos lettuce, white onion, tomatoes and beef

    • ½ lb of Beef (any boneless kind is fine)
    • Cos or Romaine lettuce
    • ½-1 white onion
    • 2 tomatoes (I prefer the green tomatoes, but since I can’t find them here I have to settle for truss tomatoes)
    • 1 lemon or 2 limes
    • 1-2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
    • 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce
    • ½ teaspoon of sugar
    • ½ teaspoon of salt
    • Black and white pepper (I love pepper so I use half the bottle each time).
    • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch mixed into 2 cups of water (thickens the sauce)
    • 1 tablespoon of garlic

Preparing the veggies:  The meat only takes a few minutes to cook up so it’s best to prepare the vegetables first.

  • Wash the veggies first and on a big plate, lay down a bed of lettuce.
  • Thinly slice the tomatoes and arrange them on the lettuce in a circle leaving space in the middle.
  • Slice or dice the onion.
  • Dice the garlic.

Cooking the meat:

Saute onions in hot oil.

Saute onions in hot oil.

Toss in beef and saute.

Toss in beef and saute.

Add sauces and cornstarch water.  Allow 2-3 minutes to cook and sauce to thicken.

Add sauces and cornstarch water. Allow 2-3 minutes to cook and sauce to thicken.

  • Slice or cut the beef into small cubes.
  • On a medium heat, pour oil into the wok.  Any oil is fine, I prefer canola, vegetable, or peanut oil for all my asian dishes.
    Once oil is hot, toss in onion and saute until lightly brown.  Add garlic and sugar.
  • Once the onion has started to carmelise, add beef.  Saute the beef around to ensure even cooking.
  • Add oyster, soy sauce and salt, while continuing to saute the beef and onions.
    Once the beef and onions have been coated with the sauce nicely, add the cornstarch water.
  • Let simmer on a low heat for a couple of minutes so the meat finishes cooking and as the sauce thickens.
  • When the beef is fully cooked, turn off heat but let the dish sit for another couple of minutes so that the sauce thickens more.
  • Arrange the beef and onions in the middle of the bed of lettuce and tomatoes. Grind black and white pepper on top.

Preparing the dressing:

  • Squeeze lemons into bowl.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons of water.

Plate over the bed of tomatoes and lettuce.

Plate over the bed of tomatoes and lettuce.

Lok Lak

Enjoy Lok Lak with a bowl of rice.

Get in touch with the author, Kristine Nga, at

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