If there was one tactic for my parents to get me to eat my vegetables, it was to order beef with broccoli at our favorite local Chinese restaurant in Alameda! The dish at Hong Kong City restaurant was so simple yet comforting; two ingredients drenched in a sweet and savory sauce that made each bite of broccoli a little more enjoyable.
The marinade and sauce contain a mixture of soy, oyster sauce, a hint of sugar, Shaoxing (Chinese rice wine) and beef stock as the flavor base. These ingredients work harmoniously together to provide a rich flavor that gets absorbed perfectly into each grain of rice.
To create the texture in the sauce, cornstarch is added directly to the meat during marination and as a cornstarch slurry in the sauce. The sauce is thickened just enough by cooking the cornstarch to help adhere more flavor to each bite.
I’ve made beef with broccoli several times over the years, using flank steak or the pre-cut pieces sold at grocery stores marketed for “stir-frying”. However, I never really felt satisfied with the dishes because the meat became too tough or dry. I realized those particular cuts of meat were just too lean.
Today I saw some beautiful short rib meat at my local grocery store and after talking to the butcher, I decided to give it a try. The short rib cut of meat turned out to be much more tender and flavorful due to the extra marbling on the meat, I was really happy with the final dish!
This is a great weeknight meal because it takes very little preparation and cooking time and this beef with broccoli recipe is packed with flavor! For more Chinese-inspired cuisine be sure to check out my delicious Char Siu Bao recipe.
Cornstarch combined with a liquid is often used in Chinese cooking so that it can quickly thicken sauces for dishes. The starch from corn is extracted to provide tremendous thickening powers, often used to thicken sauces or soups at the end of cooking. When using cornstarch as a slurry, ALWAYS use cold water to hydrate the starch, this allows the starch to separate easier and be soluble for thickening. If you add the cornstarch directly to hot liquid, the starch will clump and result in a lumpy sauce. After adding the slurry, heat the liquid until it reaches just below its boiling point, and then cook until thickened.