This classic Chinese beef and broccoli recipe is easy to make at home. A stir fry with tender beef and fresh broccoli in a delicious savory sauce. If you're like me, this dish will become a regular favorite in your repertoire.
The Chinese Invented Stir Frying
In developing this recipe, I turned to my favorite Chinese food expert and cookbook author Barbara Tropp. Her recipes are always meticulously crafted and never disappoint. I love how she digs deep into cooking history and technique. Here's her explanation of how stir-frying came to be:
Stir-frying originated in China during the Ming Dynasty, say's Tropp. It was "the product of a labor-rich, fuel-poor country...lots of hands ready to chop...few Chinese twigs or lumps of coal available to burn...a never-ending quantity of oil capable of being heated to hellishly hot degrees, and one arrives at stir-frying."
High heat is crucial for the initial searing and sealing-in of flavor. Tropp says to Listen for the "merry sizzle" to tell you if the heat is high enough. Listening to the sizzle and responding to it and manipulating the heat is the essence of the "stir-fry dance."
How to make an excellent Chinese Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
The beauty of a great stir-fry is that you can get a delicious, nutritious dinner on the table fast. The beef can be sliced and marinated up to a 24 hours ahead.
- Marinate the Beef: The marinade is just 4 ingredients, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch and peanut oil. Slice the beef and seal it in a bag with the marinade and leave it in the fridge to marinate for at least a half hour or up to 24 hours.
- Make the Sauce: The delicious 5-ingredient sauce is a mixture of rice wine, brown sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sesame oil.
- Stir-Fry: Get your wok or skillet hot. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and stir-fry the broccoli for a minute. Add rice wine and a few tablespoons of water to the pot, cover it, and let the broccoli steam for 3-4 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Transfer the broccoli to a bowl. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the wok and stir fry the onions, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Then add the marinated beef and stir-fry until almost all the pink color is gone. Add the broccoli back, pour in the sauce, and continue to cook for another minute or so, until the beef is fully cooked and everything is heated through.
- Serve: Transfer the stir-fry to a large platter and serve immediately.
You know how certain foods evoke memories? Well this beef and broccoli stir-fry brings me right back to my early 20's when I was living alone on the upper West Side of Manhattan. I rarely cooked, preferring to grab a bite after work with friends or bring something in. But when I did make dinner, it was almost always a stir-fry. I had an old wok - inherited from my mom's kitchen. My stir-fries were completely haphazard. The recipe was: Chop up a bunch of stuff and throw it in the wok with a little oil. Finish with soy sauce. And it wasn't half bad!
It's funny to reflect on that time and compare it to how discerning (picky? crazy?) I am now, spending days perfecting this recipe. Though I must say the effort has paid off. I love this dish, with tender flavorful beef and bright fresh broccoli, everything drenched in a beautiful brown sauce with deep rich umami flavors.
Chinese beef and broccoli stir fry is a favorite Chinese restaurant classic that's easy to make at home. Homemade Chinese takeout is great. It's always fresh tasting and lighter on the oil.
More homemade better-than-takeout Recipes
- Chinese Orange Chicken
- Chinese Fun Noodles with Beef
- Moo Shu Pork Lettuce Wraps
- 7 flavor Precious Chicken
- Chinese Ham and Egg Fried Rice
Here's the Chinese Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry recipe. If you try this, I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and comment. I'd love to know what you think.Print
Chinese Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry Recipe
An excellent recipe for homemade Chinese Beef and Broccoli.
Adapted from a recipe in The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking by Barbara Tropp
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 40 mins
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Main Course
- Method: stir fry
- Cuisine: Chinese
- 1 pound beef round steak or flank steak, sliced lengthwise into 2 ½ inch wide pieces and then crosswise (against the grain) into ⅛ inch thick slices. Try freezing the beef for an hour or two to firm it up for easier slicing.
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce, divided (available gluten-free)
- 5 teaspoon brown sugar, divided
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 5-7 tablespoon peanut oil, canola or corn oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce (available gluten-free)
- 1 teaspoon Chinese or Japanese sesame oil
- 8 cups bite-sized broccoli florets (from 2 crowns)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 4 teaspoons Chinese Rice Wine (or substitute dry sherry)
- 5 tablespoons water
- 1 small onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 4 teaspoons finely minced ginger root
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (from 2 large cloves)
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Marinate the Beef: In a small bowl, whisk marinade ingredients to combine: soy sauce (2 tablespoons), brown sugar (1 tablespoon), cornstarch 4 teaspoons), and peanut oil (1 tablespoon). Put beef and marinade into a plastic bag. Massage the meat, through the bag, to coat it with marinade. Press out the air, seal the bag, leave to marinate for 30 minutes at room temp or up to 24 hours in the fridge. Bring to room temp. before using.
- Make the Sauce: In a small bowl, combine rice wine or sherry (2 tablespoons), brown sugar (4 teaspoons), soy sauce (4 teaspoons), hoisin sauce (1 tablespoon) and sesame oil (1 teaspoon).
- Stir-Fry Broccoli: Heat a wok (or large heavy skillet) over high heat until hot enough to instantly evaporate a drop of water. Add 2 tablespoons oil to the wok and swirl to coat. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add the broccoli and stir-fry for a minute, tossing constantly. Sprinkle broccoli with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of sugar. Toss well, to coat. Add the rice wine (4 teaspoons). After it hisses, give everything a good stir. Add water (5 tablespoons) and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the wok and let the broccoli steam for 3-4 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Transfer the broccoli to a large bowl and and wipe out the wok.
- Stir-Fry Beef and Finish the Dish: Return wok to high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat. Reduce heat to medium high. Add the onion and stir fry for a minute. Add ginger (4 teaspoons), garlic (1 tablespoons) and red pepper flakes (½ teaspoon). Stir fry for about 10 seconds, until aromatic. Add the beef and stir fry actively until 90 percenti of the pink color is gone, adding more oil, if necessary, to prevent sticking. Give the sauce a stir and pour it into the wok. Toss the beef to coat it with sauce. Return the broccoli to the wok and cook, tossing, until the beef is fully cooked and everything is heated through. Transfer the stir-fry to a large platter and serve hot, with white rice, if you like.
Make ahead strategies:
- The broccoli can be cut into florets, wrapped in a damp paper towel, stuffed into a ziplock baggy and stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
- The beef can be sliced and marinated up to 24 hours ahead. Bring to room temperature before using.
[This post first appeared on Panning The Globe in February 2015. It was updated in May 2020 with added nutritional information, a few new photos, clarifying details in the written post and clearer instructions in the recipe.]
Keywords: Chinese beef and broccoli stir fry