Recipe: Venison Lok Lak
Season your whitetail with the flavors of a Southeast Asian classic
A combination of stir-fry and salad, Lok Lak is a popular staple in Cambodia. It’s usually made with beef, but in olden times, in the country’s mountainous areas, venison would’ve gone sizzling into the wok. The clash of the two sauces—a dark savory cooking sauce and the bright, sharp lime dipping sauce—packs some explosive flavor, making this a good choice for a roast from an older whitetail buck or another subprime cut. Just make sure to cook the venison quickly and in a very hot pan to prevent chewiness. Consider the fried eggs optional, but they add some lushness. For heat lovers, throw in some thinly sliced jalapeños. Serve with white rice on the side and a cold lager or pilsner at hand.
1 1⁄2 lb. venison roast
3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sriracha (optional)
3 tsp. sugar, divided
6 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 crushed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 head romaine lettuce
2 large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Place the venison roast in the freezer for about 20 minutes to make it easier to slice.
Make the marinade: In a medium bowl, whisk the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sriracha, 1 tsp. sugar, and minced garlic together. Add lots of pepper to the mix—as much as 2 tsp.—to taste, and whisk again.
Slice the semifrozen roast into long strips, about 1⁄2 inch wide, and add them to the bowl, stirring to coat thoroughly. Let the meat marinate, at room temperature, for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour.
Meanwhile, make the lime dipping sauce: Juice the limes into a small bowl. Next, add the fish sauce, the remaining sugar, the crushed garlic clove, and lots of black pepper—again, as much as 2 tsp.—then stir until the sugar has dissolved. Divide the sauce between four small ramekins or bowls.
Cut the bottom off the romaine and wash and dry the leaves. Divide the leaves between four plates along with the tomato slices and red onion.
Heat a wok or large pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. oil, and when the oil shimmers and just begins to smoke, add the venison and marinade. Cook, shaking the pot almost constantly, for about 2–3 minutes, or until the meat is browned and medium-rare. If any liquid remains, remove the meat with tongs to a clean bowl and continue to cook the liquid until it has reduced to a saucelike consistency. Pour the sauce over the meat.
Wipe out the pot and heat the remaining vegetable oil over medium heat. Crack the eggs into the pot, then immediately reduce the heat to low. Cook until the tops of the whites are set but the yolk remains runny. Transfer the eggs to the plates.
To serve, divide the meat between the plates. The best way to eat lok lak is to load up a lettuce leaf with the meat, some egg, tomato, and onion, and fold it into a wrap. Dip the wrap into the lime sauce and take a bite. Serves 4