Beef broccoli is probably one of the most popular entrees at a typical Chinese restaurant. Oh yes, it’s right up there on the charts with fried rice, chow mein, sweet and sour [name your meat], and pot stickers. I often chuckle at these various dishes because of the Americanized stereotype associated with them, essentially portraying what Chinese food is in a nutshell. I have gradually accepted the fact that authenticity is subjective. Simple demand is all it takes for foods to end up on restaurant menus, and obviously people like what they like. Beef broccoli is no exception. However, the broccoli part of beef broccoli has been adapted to fit American taste. Chinese broccoli, which I will feature in a future post, is probably what was originally used. Since regular broccoli is readily available for anyone to buy all year-round, popularity dominated.
For me, beef broccoli is one of my staple comfort foods that I have shared with family, friends, and coworkers over the last several years. It has been a big hit at potlucks, dinner parties, date night, bring-to-work lunch, and dinner-for-one. It seems to be well liked by most (except for vegetarians – sorry my friends!), even those who aren’t so fond of (or familiar with) Chinese food.
The recipe here is my very own, and I cannot find anything else closely similar to it on the Internet. I have typically seen recipes that combine both beef and broccoli in the wok to incorporate the sauce. Some recipes even call for an entire cup of oil using ingredient quantities just slightly above mine – no wonder Chinese food is often plagued by the image of being greasy. My version separates the beef and broccoli until the very last minute, and it is also lighter on the oil. The end result: crisp, vibrant, green broccoli topped with perfectly tender, flavorful slices of beef steak, all without being drowned in gloppy sauce. There is definitely sauce, of course, but just not in an excessive amount. If you’re a fan of *gulp* Panda Express or PF Chang’s, you will boycott their versions.
It was a challenge writing this recipe because it is definitely one that I eyeball and go off my memory, as if I can do this in my sleep. You know, a little dabble of this, and a couple splashes of that kind of thing. Fear not, though – the process is very simple once you get used to it.
Beef Broccoli Recipe
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
- 1/2 pound flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain (about 1 inch long should be bite-sized)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- Salt and pepper
- 2 heads of broccoli (florets and trimmed stems), about 4 cups
- 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine (Chia Fan brand)
- Medium mixing bowl
- Chef knife and cutting board
- Paring knife
- Medium stock pot
- Skillet or wok
- Tongs or wooden spoon
- Pre-work: Before handling the meat, bring a medium stock pot of water to a boil. Divide the flank steak into 1-inch sections along the lengthy fibers (see below). Thinly slice each section against the grain, about ¼ inches each slice, and place into mixing bowl. Toss beef together with soy sauce, sugar, 1 teaspoon oil, and corn starch. Let it marinate until broccoli prep is done.
- Prep the broccoli by cutting about an inch off the tough part of the stem. Using a paring knife, peel away the tough layer off the stems and florets. The florets should be bite size, and the trimmed stems should be thin for even cooking.
- Blanch ‘n fry: Place broccoli in boiling water and blanch until water comes to a light boil again. Promptly drain in colander (no need to rinse with cold water here). It’s a very quick dip in the hot tub here.
Heat the skillet on high heat with 1 tablespoon oil and a pinch of salt. When oil comes to a smoking point (it should be fragrant at this point), toss in broccoli and stir constantly for about 15-20 seconds. Transfer to a serving plate and reserve.
In the same heated skillet, add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add garlic and ginger and vigorously stir for 5 seconds to avoid burning. Immediately add in marinated beef, followed by oyster sauce as soon as beef changes color (semi pink, semi brown at this point). Stir fry until beef is almost all browned. Lightly season with course black pepper. Finish the beef with rice wine; sauce should thicken at this point. Remove from heat and pour over cooked broccoli.
The final product:
A meal like this cannot be complete without steamed white or brown rice to go with it, right?
Now that’s more like it. Enjoy!
- Once the ingredients are all prepared, this is a very quick cooking dish. To prep in advance, you may wash and cut broccoli beforehand. The beef can also be marinated overnight, but without the corn starch until ready to cook. If the corn starch is left in overnight, it will harden.
- If you’re doubling the recipe, the broccoli can be cooked in a double batch during the blanch ‘n fry step. However, I’d suggest cooking the beef in two batches.
- Most people will not peel the tough portion off the florets, especially in restaurants because it takes longer to prep. However, my mother taught me to cut broccoli this way because the outer layer is chewy and takes longer to cook otherwise.