Monday, March 2, 2009

Asian Beef Stir-Fry

Well, I did say I would try to make more Chinese food this year. So here's another stir fry recipe. My family is getting a tad tired of rice (and it's not David's favorite thing, even with meat and vegetables), so this will probably be the last Chinese recipe for a few weeks.

I found the original recipe online, but I always read the reviews for a recipe before trying it out--many of them said to double the sauce, (which I did) and they were right. I also remembered my mom always marinated her meat beforehand, so I came up with a marinade for the beef and included it in this post.

This turned out great...whenever I eat in a Chinese restaurant, my dish often comes with too much sauce, and it's thick and gloppy--yuck! But this sauce was perfect--just the right consistency to coat the vegetables and meat without being drowned.

I know it looks complicated, but you can prep the beef, vegetables, and sauce in advance. I couldn't just list all the ingredients without organizing it...I was afraid you'd be confused.

So here is another healthy stir-fry recipe to dig your chopsticks into!

Asian Beef Stir-Fry


1 pound beef round steak
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons mirin or rice wine
1 teaspoon brown sugar


1 cup white or brown rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups water


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red/green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 heaping cup (8 ounces) snow peas, trimmed
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
salt and black pepper to taste


6 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons mirin/rice wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch

We're going to start with the beef. Trim away any excess fat and stick the meat in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Partially freezing the meat makes it easier to slice it very thinly. We want this beef to cook quickly so it stays tender. Once the beef is partially frozen, lay it out on your cutting board.

Cut it in half lengthwise.

Then cut it at an angle into slices about 1/8 of an inch thick. Leave the meat out on the board for about 10 minutes to warm up just a tad while we mix up the marinade.

In a large zip top bag or container, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, and brown sugar. I bought my rice wine at the Asian market. If you can't find something similar at your local grocery store, you can use a dry sherry (don't use a "cooking wine" or "cooking sherry," they taste awful!). This is the brand of rice wine I buy.

Add the sliced beef and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight.

About 30 minutes before you want to serve dinner, start the rice. Combine the water, rice, and salt in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Once it's boiling, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer gently with the lid cracked until all the water is absorbed, about 12-14 minutes.

Put the lid on and set aside--it will stay warm until the stir-fry is ready.
Stir all the sauce ingredients together and set aside.

Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go. Remember...stir-fry goes quick!

Heat your wok over high heat. If you you're using a non-stick skillet, you can only heat that up to medium (maybe medium-high). Pour in the vegetable oil and let it heat up. When you see the oil starting to ripple and smoke just a bit, then the pan is ready.

Add the beef to the pan--away from you, because this baby is going to ROAR back at you, since it's really hot. Use a long handled spoon to stir the beef briskly until it is about 3/4 of the way done. Remove the beef to a bowl and set aside. (Notice that it's still a tad pink--this is fine, because it will finish cooking with the vegetables).

Put the wok back on the heat and turn the heat down to medium. If you think you need it, add just a bit more oil to the pan. Add the garlic and ginger and stir that around for about a minute. Don't let it burn!

Toss in the snow peas (yes, they're from the garden), red pepper, and red onions. Let them cook together for about 5 minutes--you want them fairly crunchy.

Now put the beef back in...

Pour in the sauce (give it a good stir before you use it, since the cornstarch has probably settled), and let it simmer along with the beef and vegetables for a few minutes. It should thicken and coat everything nicely.

Give the pan one final stir and turn the stir-fry out into a nice big bowl.

Doesn't it look great? To serve, scoop some rice into a bowl, and add a generous portion of the stir-fry.

All you have to do is get your chopsticks (or a fork--I'll never know), and dig in.

God bless your table tonight!


Alexis D. said...

looks great Kim! We will have to try it. We bought 1/4 of a cow, so I'm needing some beef recipes!!

Ginkgo100 said...

Looks good! I must admit, when I make stir fry I don't follow recipes. Stir fry to me is "refrigerator velcro" and I use whatever is around and looks good, in addition to whatever meat and veggies I bought specifically for the dish (which is usually based, again, on what looked good in the store and what was on sale).

The one thing I try to do with beef, which I learned from a newspaper clipping some years ago, is to "velvet" the beef. I add a little cornstarch to the marinade. Supposedly this helps its texture. Did your mom ever do that?

My stir fry sauces are based on whatever tickles my fancy and seems like it would go well with whatever ingredients are being used. Cornstarch always, of course, because you have to thicken it. Soy sauce almost always, too. Sesame oil, chili oil (very sparingly because the kids don't like spicy food), broth, various types of wine, garlic, ginger, five-spice powder, black pepper, and mushroom water (from rehydrating dried black shittake mushrooms — yum) are some of the things that have found their way into my sauces. I don't usually like to use sweet ingredients.

For veggies I've used bell peppers, scallions (not a big fan of regular onions), asparagus, assorted mushrooms including fresh buttons and rehydrated shiitakes, zucchini, celery, carrots, green beans, peas, bok choy...

Have you tried using noodles instead of rice? I like rice noodles (the ones labelled "rice sticks"), or you can use spaghetti. I usually serve the stir-fry on top of rice noodles just like steamed rice, but mix cooked spaghetti into the final dish like lo mein.

I noticed your beef had "stripes" of pink and brown-gray when it was raw. I hate that, and I don't know what causes it or how to avoid it. Do you know anything about that? Is it because grocery store meat isn't very fresh, or is it normal for all meat?

Kimberly said...

Yes, my mom did use cornstarch in her marinades, but I've never had good luck with that...I'll have to try it again at some point.

David is not crazy about pasta or rice--he tolerates rice a bit more than pasta. I like serving rice b/c that's how we alway had it growing up. With the kids--it's messier, but easier for them to eat rice, especially Gabriel. But you can certainly use whatever vegetables you like--that's the great thing about stir-fry, using veggies the kids like and what's in season.

I am probably a purist. My mom didn't add anything fancy to her sauces or marinades. I don't like any other liquids or spices. I like to be able to really taste the meat and the veggies. That's why using fresh vegetables instead of frozen is important to me. Using the freshest ingredients means there's no aftertaste of something freezer burn, or preservatives.

I think meat varies in color depending how fresh it is, and what has been exposed to oxygen. When I buy fresh meat, I use it right away (withinn 48 hours) or I freeze it to use later.

Ginkgo100 said...

Yes, I don't like frozen stir fry veggies either... once in a while I'll add frozen peas or maybe frozen grean beans, but then again fresh green beans are so much cheaper here in Houston than where I came from (Denver) that there's no reason not to use fresh most of the time. I made a beef stir fry inspired by your post and it was quite tasty! I used celery, mushrooms, and water chestnuts from a can I found in the back of the pantry. They actually tasted better than the water chestnuts you usually get at Chinese restaurants — I wonder why... Sauce had soy sauce, sesame oil, and grated ginger using your wonderful trick of keeping a frozen "hand" of ginger. Thanks!

Passy said...


There are two great things about living in Australia:
1) Great Surf Beaches and
2) Great Asian and Indian food and ingredients available in abundance.

I used Mirin for the recipe and it combined beautifully with the Soy and Brown Sugar.
The dish was a tantalising taste sensation, and so easy to do, following your perfect well thought out instructions. Thanks for grouping the ingredients, which made it a lot easier for me to keep track of what goes where.

I actually used a Sunbeam electric wok, and it puts out plenty of heat power, and is very easy to clean afterwards.

I have updated my Blog post about your site, recommending this dish as a winner as well.

Feel free to leave a comment there if you like. There are two of my friends in the USA trying out your prawn pasta this weekend, and so it will be interesting to get their feedback as well.

Thanks so much for sharing your fabulous food ideas, and I will have to see what I might make next week.

Enjoy, Passy