Beef and broccoli is a quick 30-minute meal. Thin slices of marinated meat stir-fry with fresh broccoli florets and red bell peppers. The ingredients simmer in a delicious savory sauce for an easy one-pot meal.
Preparing a classic beef and broccoli stir-fry is a sure-fire way to enjoy eating your vegetables. At least that was my parent’s tactic! Using a blazing hot wok or large pan, you can have a tasty meal loaded with protein and greens in just half an hour. I recommend serving with a big bowl of steamed rice to soak up all of the flavors.
The trickiest part of this dish is making sure those bite-sized pieces of beef are tender and tasty. Slicing the meat properly and marinating is key, while a quick sear in a hot pan adds another layer of flavor. The broccoli florets steam in the same pan then simmer with the other ingredients in a sweet and savory sauce.
How to make broccoli beef
- Marinate the meat in soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, honey, and sesame oil.
- Boil water in the wok, add the broccoli and cook until tender, set aside.
- Heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat.
- Heat vegetable oil, saute ginger and garlic until fragrant.
- Add beef in a single layer and sear each side.
- Add the stir-fry sauce, cook until thickened then add the vegetables to warm.
- Serve with rice, cauliflower rice, or broccoli rice.
Flank steak, flat iron steak, or boneless beef short rib meat is recommended for this dish. They’re all quick-cooking types of beef with lots of flavors and varying amounts of marbling. Flank is the leanest cut and the short rib is very tender due to the extra marbling and minimal amount of connective tissue.
Avoid pre-cut beef
Avoid using pre-cut pieces sold at the grocery store marketed for “Stir-Frying.” Counterintuitive to what you think, these pieces tend to be a mix-match of cuts and have a tougher texture. Instead, thinly slice raw beef into no wider than ¼-inch thick pieces while cutting across the grain. This will ensure that it’s easy for the teeth to cut through and chew.
Make a flavorful stir-fry
The steak marinade and stir-fry sauce contain a mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, and a hint of sweetness from honey or brown sugar. Shaoxing (Chinese rice wine) and beef stock are also used to flavor the base. The umami flavors are intensified by marinating the thinly sliced beef for at least 15 minutes before cooking.
The salty flavor compounds tenderize and infuse into the surface of the meat while adding other wonderful aromatics. During the stir fry process, the ingredients work harmoniously together to provide a rich flavor to the beef and broccoli. The sauce is thickened just enough by cooking the cornstarch to help adhere more flavor to each bite and create a beautiful sheen.
More Chinese recipes
What is a cornstarch slurry?
Cornstarch combined with a liquid is often used in Chinese cooking to quickly thicken sauces. Using cool liquids to hydrate the starch allows it to separate easier and be soluble for thickening. If you add the cornstarch directly to hot liquid, it will clump and result in a lumpy sauce. After adding the slurry, heat the liquid until it reaches just below its boiling point then cook until thickened.
Beef and Broccoli
Beef and Broccoli
- 1 pound (454 g) flank steak, flat iron steak or boneless beef short rib
- ⅓ cup (79 ml) water
- 5 cups (310 g) broccoli florets, 2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
- 1 slice whole ginger, peeled, ¼” thick slice
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 1 cup (154 g) sliced red bell pepper, 1/4-inch thick slices
- black pepper
- ½ cup (120 ml) beef stock
- 4 tablespoons (60 ml) oyster sauce
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dry sherry, Shaoxing rice wine, sake or brandy
- 1 tablespoon (9 g) cornstarch
- Make a marinade in a medium bowl by whisking together soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, honey, and sesame oil.
- Add sliced beef (cut against the grain in ¼” thick slices) and coat. Set aside for at least 15 minutes at room temperature, or refrigerate if marinating longer.
- Make the sauce in a medium bowl by whisking together beef stock, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sherry, and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved and no white lumps remain. Set aside.
- Heat a wok or large saute pan over high heat. Add ⅓ cup water and bring to a boil.
- Add broccoli to the wok and saute until just tender and bright green, about 3 minutes. Transfer broccoli to a bowl and set aside.
- Dry the wok with a paper towel then set heat to medium-high until very hot.
- Add vegetable oil to the wok. Once the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic clove, sauté for 30 seconds.
- Add the marinated beef in a single layer, cook without moving for 1 minute. Stir fry until no longer pink, about 1 minute.
- Add the sauce to the wok and bring to a rapid simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the cooked broccoli and red bell peppers to the wok, stir-fry for an additional 1 to 2 minutes to warm.
- Season with pepper to taste. Serve immediately with rice if desired.
- Mixing Bowl