Beef and broccoli used to be my favorite dish to order in Chinese restaurants. Last spring, the beef and broccoli from 101 Recipes You Can’t Live Without was the winner of a Vote for a Recipe post, but I never posted the recipe because neither Caleb nor I were especially happy with the outcome. I’ve been (very slowly) testing other renditions of beef and broccoli, and this version from Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge is the first that’s been worth posting.
My Chinese friend informs me that beef and broccoli is not something you can order in restaurants in China because it’s not actually a real Chinese dish. Apparently broccoli is pretty uncommon there, cauliflower would be more likely, but generally you’ll find beef and green (chili) pepper dishes on offer.
The success of Grace Young’s recipe for beef and broccoli is no big surprise, given the enormous praise she’s received for her expert guidance on how to use a wok and create excellent stir-frys at home. Care for your wok, don’t be afraid to cook over high heat, and absolutely prepare each component before starting to stir-fry, because once you start, there’s no time to be measuring out individual ingredients. The time requirement for a stir-fry is pretty minimal (usually under 30 minutes), and the majority of that time is spent getting everything ready to go for the 3-7 minutes you spend actively stir-frying.
Another critical step towards success when stir-frying is not leaving anything out. Many recipes for Asian dishes require a pretty long list of ingredients to create the flavorful sauce. I’ve tried making Asian dishes without having all the ingredients out of laziness, an inability to locate the ingredient at a grocery store, and/or an unwillingness to pay $5 for something I need a tablespoon of. However, repeating these recipes has conclusively demonstrated to me that if you leave something out, no matter how small the measurement, the sauce is going to be lacking a key component and it will not taste nearly as good. It’s worth seeking out what you need, and when you succeed with a recipe, you’re more than likely to make it more than once (especially since they don’t take much time to make), so you will use up your “special” purchases.
To make this, you’ll need quite a few different sauces, but all of them can be found in your regular supermarket. Slice your steak, get it marinating in one sauce, prep the other sauce, start cooking any grains you plan to eat on the side, blanch the broccoli, slice the green onions, and then start the stir-frying process once any sides you’re preparing have less than 5 minutes of cooking time left. You’ll very quickly stir-fry the beef in its sauce, only until its browned but not fully cooked, remove the beef to stir-fry the green onions and broccoli, then add everything to the wok, including the second sauce, and stir-fry until the beef is just fully cooked and everything is heated through. This process doesn’t take more than about 5-7 minutes. I really enjoyed Grace’s beef and broccoli. The cornstarch in the marinade helps tenderize the beef, resulting in the velvet texture that makes Chinese stir-fries so delicious. The final sauce is exactly as it ought to be: a richly-flavored soy and garlic sauce, given complexity by the ginger, fermented black beans, and oyster sauce, and thickened so it clings to both beef and broccoli.
Original Source: Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge
Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli
- 12 ounces lean flank steak cold
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2+3 teaspoons rice wine or dry sherry separated
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
- 12-20 cubes ice + cold water (aka an ice bath)
- 12 ounces broccoli, cut into large florets and stems cut into 1/4-inch thick slices about 5 cups total
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon fermented black beans rinsed and mashed
- 3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
Cut the beef with the grain into 2-inch wide strips. Then, cut each strip across the grain into 1/4-inch thick strips.
In a large bowl (it needs to hold all the beef), whisk together the ginger, soy sauce, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and 2 teaspoons of the rice wine. Add the beef, and toss to coat. Stir in the sesame oil.
In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, and remaining 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) rice wine.
Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a small-to-medium (1.5-to-3 quart) saucepan. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring the broccoli frequently, for just one minute or until the broccoli turns bright green and the water has almost returned to a boil.
Quickly drain the broccoli in a colander and immediately plunge the broccoli into the ice bath to chill it and halt the cooking process. Remove the broccoli from the ice bath and drain again, shaking out any excess water.
Mince the garlic and chop the green onions. Measure out the fermented black beans, rinse and mash them. Make sure everything is ready to go, as the rest of the process happens quickly.
Heat a 14-inch wok or a 12-to-14 inch skillet over high heat. It is ready when a bead of water vaporizes after 1-2 seconds of contact. Add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil and swirl to coat the pan, then add the garlic and black beans. Stir-fry for 10 seconds until fragrant, then push the mixture to the sides of the wok and add the beef carefully in a single, even layer.
Cook the beef undisturbed for 1 minute, until the beef is seared and lightly browned on the down-facing side. Stir-fry the beef for another minute until lightly browned but not cooked through. Transfer to a plate.
Working quickly, add the remaining tablespoon of peanut oil to the wok and swirl to recoat the pan. Add the green onions and stir-fry them for 30 seconds, until they turn translucent. Add the blanched broccoli and stir-fry with the onions for just 15 seconds, basically until the onions and broccoli are combined. Add the beef back to the wok, together with any juices that accumulated. Pour in the oyster sauce mixture and stir-fry for 30-90 seconds, until the beef is just cooked through and everything is hot.
Serve immediately, either by itself or with rice, quinoa, potatoes, or some other side to help mop up the delicious sauce.