Tender, juicy beef and broccoli smothered in a special glossy sauce. Who needs to order takeout when you have a Beef and Broccoli recipe sourced from a Chinese restaurant?
Copycat Chinese takeout recipes are a firm favourite in my world, with recipes like Chow Mein, Cashew Chicken, Fried Rice and Egg Foo Young on heavy rotation along with this Beef and Broccoli. For a full Chinese banquet, start with an appetiser of Spring Rolls or Potstickers!
Beef and broccoli recipe
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 is extremely simple. They key here is the right ratios:
- soy sauce;
- Chinese cooking wine OR Mirin (see recipe for subs);
- cornflour/cornstarch for thickening; and
- Chinese Five Spice Powder – a hint of this is the signature flavour in Beef and Broccoli!
What is 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.
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.
Best beef for stir fries
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 you can also make a Beef and Broccoli with economical beef – even stewing cuts (!!) – by using a little known Chinese restaurant secret method to tenderise beef using baking soda. It’s simple, highly effective and will make your beef incredibly tender in every stir fry – just like you cheerful local Chinese restaurant!
Beef and Broccoli – not authentic, and 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!
Try the noodle version one day – Beef Broccoli Noodles. It’s everything you know and love about Beef and Broccoli – with noodles! – Nagi x
More Chinese Takeout Favorites
- Chow Mein
- Cashew Chicken
- Kung Pao Chicken
- Spring Rolls – better than egg rolls!
- Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)
- See all Chinese Takeout Recipes
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.
Beef and Broccoli recipe original published March 2015, updated 2018 with new photos, new words, slightly more streamlined recipe and a recipe video!
LIFE OF DOZER
He’ll take the beef over the broccoli……