This is made with a simple but super flavourful, classic Chinese stir fry sauce. It’s a real sauce, one that tastes just like you get at proper Chinese restaurants!
Stir fries are my go-to for those nights when I can’t deal with more than the bare minimum effort for dinner. I know I can always knock up a stir fry using whatever greens I have left in my fridge. Even if I only have green beans and an onion (and some protein!). As long as I have a yummy sauce, I’m one happy gal!
So I have a secret weapon for super fast midweek meals – a homemade all purpose stir fry sauce. I call him Charlie. As in – Charlie Brown, because it’s a brown sauce. Ha ha ha. Don’t kill yourself laughing at my lack of originality!
Charlie is my secret weapon because he takes minutes to make and lasts in the fridge for weeks and weeks. He is similar to the sauce of many Chinese stir fries, but not an exact replica of any. Which means he is a great base to use for a seemingly endless array of Chinese dishes with the addition of a few extra flavourings.
And he’s real. He tastes like a real Chinese stir fry sauce, with proper depth of flavour.
Say hi to Charlie! That’s him on the bottom right photo. Looks unimpressive, doesn’t he? No hint of the power within! 🙂
The beauty of Charlie is that he will reside in your fridge for weeks, then when you need him, he’s always ready to go. Just give him a good shake, pour him in your stir fry and add water. He’s already got cornstarch/cornflour in him so he turns into a glorious thick sauce that coats your stir fry beautifully.
It’s been over a year since I last shared a recipe using Charlie. The reason I thought of this is because Super Food Ideas (Australia’s #1 food magazine!) asked me to do a feature with a series of recipes using Charlie. You will be amazed what you can make with him! Not just stir fries – soups, sauces, noodle stir fries and even using him as a marinade.
So I spent last week developing recipes for the Super Food Ideas feature (which comes out in early February – I’ll share more about that when the issue is released!). And I had a handful of ingredients leftover which is why I decided to share this stir fry recipe today.
If you want more ideas for how to use Charlie, you can have a look at this post – 10 Classic Chinese Dishes, 1 Amazing Sauce, where I share 10 more Chinese dishes (all on one page!) that you can make using Charlie.
For now, I present to you this classic Beef Stir Fry made using Charlie. 🙂 BUT I’ve also provided the ingredients to make the sauce from scratch too. Enjoy! – Nagi x
PS It may just be that I’m planning a new e-cookbook for release early next year with a huge variety of recipes using Charlie! Stay tuned….. 🙂
- 3 tsp cornstarch / corn flour*
- 2 tbsp + 1/3 cup water , separated
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (Note 2)*
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce*
- 2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry (Note 3)*
- 1 tsp white sugar*
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)*
- Dash of black pepper*
- 2 tbsp peanut oil
- 1 garlic clove , crushed
- 7 oz / 200 g beef , good quality, thinly sliced (Note 4)
- 1/2 small onion , sliced (yellow, brown or white)
- 1/2 red bell pepper / capsicum , sliced
- 1 small carrot , halved lengthwise and sliced thinly on the diagonal
- 3 baby pak choy / bok choy , quartered lengthwise
- 2 stems scallion / shallots , cut into 1.5"/3cm pieces
- Steamed white rice
- Sesame seeds (optional)
- Fresh cilantro / coriander (optional)
Combine the cornstarch and 2 tbsp of water in a small bowl, mix until smooth.
Mix in remaining Sauce ingredients EXCEPT the 1/3 cup water.
Place the beef and 2 tbsp of Sauce in a bowl and mix gently. Set aside for 15 minutes.
Add 1/3 cup water into the remaining Sauce. Set aside.
Heat oil in wok over high heat. Add garlic and cook for 15 seconds.
Add onion and cook for 1 minute.
Add the beef and cook until it changes colour from red to light brown but not cooked through.
Add bell pepper and carrots and stir fry for 30 seconds.
Add Sauce and cook for 30 seconds.
Add pak choy and scallions/shallots and cook for a further 1 minute until the Sauce is thickened.
Remove from heat immediately.
Serve with rice, garnished with sesame seeds and cilantro, if using.
1. Instead of making this Sauce for this recipe, you can use 5 tablespoons of my Homemade All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce.(i.e. replace the ingredients marked with * with 5 tbsp of my All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce. Add the same quantity of water specified in this recipe and follow all other directions in this recipe.
2. Please use ordinary all purpose soy sauce for this. I use Kikkoman. Do not use light soy sauce (too salty) or dark soy sauce (too thick).
3. Chinese cooking wine is an essential ingredient for real stir fry sauces. The alcohol cooks out. However, if you cannot get it, substitute with chicken broth.
4. Use a good quality beef that is suitable for grilling/BBQ. Cut it against the grain i.e. look at the beef and you will notice the meat grain runs in one direction. Cut across the grain. This ensures the beef pieces are tender (marinating in the cornstarch sauce also helps tenderise).
Nutrition per serving, excluding rice. You can reduce the calories by 80 calories by using a non stick skillet and halving the oil.