Who needs to order takeout when you have a Beef and Broccoli recipe sourced from a Chinese restaurant? AND the secret for how Chinese restaurants tenderise beef? 🙂
Beef and Broccoli recipe original published March 2015, updated 2018 with new photos, new words, slightly more streamlined recipe and a recipe video!
BEEF AND BROCCOLI RECIPE – TAKE OUT STYLE!
I’ve attempted on several occasions to wheedle recipes out of my local Chinese restaurant – with little to no success.
I’m beyond the age of hair flipping and lack the lashes for batting my eyes to any effect, but I do dial up the charm – full wattage smile, laying on the compliments, hitting them up after I’ve ordered a truckload of takeout.
Alas, I’ve gotten nowhere.
So imagine my delight when I discovered a Chinese cooking blog called Woks of Life run by a Chinese-American family who used to own a Chinese restaurant! And that’s where the base for this recipe came from – the Woks of Life Beef and Broccoli stir fry. An actual real-deal restaurant recipe!!
BEEF AND BROCCOLI SAUCE
The sauce base for Chinese Beef and Broccoli includes all the usual suspects – soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine (see recipe for subs), sugar and cornflour/cornstarch for thickening.
It also includes Chinese Five Spice Powder. It’s a spice mix made up of (surprise, surprise) five spices – cinnamon, cloves, Szechuan pepper, fennel and star anise.
It’s a common spice blend found in supermarkets nowadays that doesn’t cost any more than other standard spices. A little hint of Chinese Five Spice in the sauce is the signature flavour of Chinese Beef and Broccoli.
The Sauce serves a dual purpose – as the main Sauce for the stir fry, as well as adding a little flavour directly to the beef. It doesn’t need to be marinated, just set it aside while you prep the other ingredients.
In the video and the photos of the finished dish in this post, I’ve used an economy beef eye fillet (Australia – Harris Farms sells it for $20/kg) which is beautifully juicy and tender, perfect for stir fries.
Any quick cooking cut of beef is suited to this recipe. Basically, the rule of thumb is: if you’d throw it on the BBQ and eat it as a steak, it’s great for stir fries.
But, I also want to share with you a little known Chinese restaurant secret so you can make this with slow cooking cuts of beef that are far better value….
TENDERISING BEEF (OPTIONAL)
Ever notice how the meat in Chinese dishes is so incredibly tender, and how your stir fries at home are just never the same?
The secret is tenderising the meat. Your cheerful local Chinese restaurant is using economical stewing beef to make stir fries with ultra tender strips of beef by tenderising.
There are a few ways to do it. Marinating in a cornflour sludge then frying in oil before using in the stir fry, using an egg white mixture, and even chemical tenderisers.
I use the baking soda (bi-carb) method which I find the simplest for every day purposes. It’s as simple as this: use an economical slow cooking cut of beef, slice, sprinkle with baking soda, leave for 20 minutes, rinse, pat dry then use per recipe.
That beef which would ordinarily be super tough unless simmered slowly for hours is going to be so tender and juicy, it’s going to blow your mind.
Word of caution: The beef will turn freakishly bright red. See?
BEEF BROCCOLI – NOT AUTHENTIC, BUT THAT’S OK!
I haven’t travelled extensively throughout China but in the time I did spend there, I can say with certainty that I never saw Beef Broccoli on any menu. Broccoli is actually very expensive in China!
So I’m pretty sure Beef and Broccoli is a westernised version of a Chinese dish, or just a Western Chinese dish.
Either way, it’s a big Chinese takeout favourite – with good reason. Tender beef with juicy broccoli generously smothered with a savoury Chinese brown sauce with the signature hint of Chinese Five Spice Powder, this is one of those dishes that’s a crowd pleaser for all ages! – Nagi x
PS Plenty of sauce – see? Because everyone loves the sauce!
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Sometimes it helps to have a visual, so watch me make this Beef Broccoli recipe!
Chinese Beef and Broccoli
- 2 tbsp cornstarch / cornflour
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce (Note 1)
- 1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce (Note 1)
- 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine) (Note 2)
- 1/8 tsp Chinese five spice powder (Note 3)
- 1 tsp sesame oil (optional)
- 1/8 tsp tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp oil
- 12 oz / 360g beef fillet, flank or rump (Note 4 for tenderising option)
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 4 - 5 cups broccoli florets (1 head), cooked (Note 5)
- 1 cup water
- Sesame seeds (optional)
- Place cornflour and water in bowl then mix. Add remaining Sauce ingredients.
- Slice the beef into 1/4" / 0.5cm thick slices. Place the beef and 2 tbsp of the Sauce into a bowl and set aside.
- Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add beef and spread out, leave for 1 minute until browned.
- Stir beef for 10 seconds, then add garlic and ginger. Stir for another 30 seconds or until beef is no longer pink.
- Pour Sauce and water into the skillet and quickly mix.
- When the sauce starts bubbling, add broccoli. Stir to coat the broccoli in Sauce, then let it simmer for 1 minute or until Sauce is thickened.
- Remove from heat immediately and serve over rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
LIFE OF DOZER
He’ll take the beef over the broccoli……