Tender strips of beef stir fried with a lip smacking black pepper and honey sauce. One of my favorite dishes at Chinese restaurants is so easy to make at home. 15 minutes, start to finish, zero stress, normal ingredients.
This is one of my favourite dishes that I order at Chinese restaurants. Never take out. It has to be at a restaurant because I love the theatrics of how it’s served, sizzling in a cast iron dish. And it’s one of those dishes that really does benefit from being served straight away.
I don’t recreate the sizzle at home – I wish I could! If you have a cast iron dish or a small skillet so you can take it straight from the stove to the table, then you’ll get the sizzle. And I’m jealous.
But I have managed to recreate the glorious sauce for this stir fry! Sweet, salty and with a subtle peppery heat, this really does taste like what you get at restaurants. Look at it! Who could resist that??
Several years ago when I went through my take out copy-cat phase, I remember searching for a restaurant recipe for this stir fry. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find any at all. Well, at least, any credible looking ones. I know this sounds snobby, but I can usually tell just by reading a recipe whether it is what I am after or not and none of them were right.
A honey based Asian sauce has more in it than just honey and soy sauce. If you just use those two ingredients, the flavour is quite flat. As soon as you taste it, you know something is missing. (Even if you add garlic and/or ginger).
What it needs is another layer of complexity, whether it be a splash of Chinese cooking wine, hoisin sauce or oyster sauce. Add one of these and you’ll transform a sauce from one dimensional to restaurant standard! It’s a neat trick to have up your sleeve for those fridge clean out days when you’re improvising a stir fry.
It didn’t take much experimenting to figure out a sauce for this stir fry that I think is pretty close to what you get at restaurants. And it’s easy! So easy, with a short ingredient list. This is one of those stir fries you can get on the table in 15 minutes without any stress.
So….what’s your favourite at Chinese restaurants?? – Nagi
PS The photo below is a complete fabrication. I would never help myself to such a tiny serving. I just wanted to use those cute Chinese dishes!
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1½ tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry (or substitute with chicken or beef stock)
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp roughly crushed black pepper (or ½ tsp freshly ground pepper)
- 1½ tbsp peanut oil (or vegetable or canola oil)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 small onion, sliced (or ½ large onion)
- 1 lb / 500 g thinly sliced flank, rump, sirloin, fillet or any other cut of steak suitable for stir frying (Notes 1 & 2)
- Whisk together the Sauce ingredients then set aside.
- Heat the oil in a wok or large heavy based skillet over high heat until it is smoking.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute or until the onion becomes translucent. Keep it moving so the garlic doesn't burn.
- Add the beef and stir fry for 40 seconds to 1 minute until just cooked to your liking (depending on the size of the pieces, how heavy based your wok is, strength of stove). Remove beef and onion onto a plate.
- Turn the heat down to medium high. Pour the Sauce ingredients into the wok. It will start simmering very quickly. Let it cook for 1 minute or so until it becomes syrupy - the bubbles will be larger and caramel colour.
- Add the beef and onion back into the wok, along with any juices pooled on the plate. Toss in the sauce until just warmed through - 1 minute at most. Don't overcook the beef - that would be tragic!
- Serve immediately with rice.
2. Cut against the grain - When you look at the beef, you will see that the fibres are mostly going in the same direction. When slicing the beef, cut "against the grain" which means cutting the beef 90 degrees to the direction of the fibres. This will produce the most tender beef.
3. Tenderising the beef: Because the beef is flash fried separately from the sauce, this ensures the beef stays tender and juicy. However, if you would like to use the technique used by restaurants to "velvet" (tenderise) the beef, then combine the slices of beef with ½ tsp baking soda (bicarb soda), 2 tbsp water, 1 tbsp soys sauce, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp oil. Marinade for 30 minutes, then use as per this recipe. I rarely tenderise the beef for this recipe.
Nutrition per serving assuming 4 servings.