A side angle photo of a large ceramic plate on a marble table. The plate is filled with a mouthwatering combination of cooked flank steak and vibrant green broccoli florets in this satisfying beef broccoli recipe.

Beef Broccoli

Tender slices of sizzling beef are paired with crisp, vibrant broccoli florets, all tossed in a delicious savory sauce. By cooking beef broccoli at home, you can enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal that’s quick and easy to make. This dish is perfect for a satisfying weeknight dinner or a special occasion. Plus, you can customize the recipe to your liking by adjusting the protein! Chicken, shrimp, or tofu works beautifully here too.

A side angle photo of a large ceramic plate on a marble table. The plate is filled with a mouthwatering combination of cooked flank steak and vibrant green broccoli florets in this satisfying beef broccoli recipe.

Why This Works

I have fond memories of enjoying this dish with my dad while growing up. As he worked seven days a week, he had limited time for cooking on weekdays. One of our cherished traditions was stopping by a Chinese takeout restaurant in Douglaston for lunch on our way home from my swimming classes. I was a late learner and didn’t learn how to swim until high school! This restaurant was my dad’s favorite because the food was consistently high-quality, portions were generous, and the taste was always satisfying. We’d chat in the car and listen to songs on the radio while enjoying our lunch. We did this for two summers in a row, and it became our way of spending quality time together.

By cooking beef broccoli at home, you can enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal that’s quick and easy to make. With tender slices of beef and crisp broccoli florets tossed in a savory sauce, this dish is perfect for a satisfying weeknight dinner or a special occasion.

What is beef broccoli?

In Chinese cuisine, stir-frying is a common cooking technique, and a variety of dishes are often prepared using this method. In beef broccoli, the steak is marinated and the broccoli is blanched separately before being combined. It is most commonly served over steamed rice. The beef broccoli dish itself is a popular American-Chinese creation, and it is not commonly found in Asia in the same form.

Ingredients for beef broccoli organized in clear glass prep bowls on a marble table flanked by a green leafy plant. From top left to bottom left are raw broccoli florets, marinated beef, cornstarch slurry, ginger, scallions, onions, chicken stock, sugar, Chinese black vinegar, light soy sauce, and dark soy sauce.
From top left to bottom left are raw broccoli florets, marinated beef, cornstarch slurry, ginger, scallions, onions, chicken stock, sugar, Chinese black vinegar, light soy sauce, and dark soy sauce.

What are other variations of beef broccoli?

While the sauce offered here is a fairly standard recipe, it can be easily elevated with the addition of minced garlic for a garlic-infused sauce or black bean sauce for a richer, saltier, and more umami flavor. Additionally, the protein in this dish can be substituted with chicken, shrimp, or tofu to suit your dietary preferences.

Techniques

How do I cut a steak against the grain?

Cutting beef against the grain serves two purposes here. First, it makes the beef easier to chew and swallow. Secondly, it makes it less likely that small chunks will crumble off while cooking. Imagine a block made of long pieces of thread all facing in the same direction which represents the muscle fibers of the protein. When we cut the beef perpendicular to the long threads, we are breaking up the thread into shorter pieces. Here are the general steps:

  • Start by identifying the direction of the grain on the beef. Look for the lines of muscle fibers running through the meat. They will be more visible on some cuts of beef such as flank steak than others.
  • Using a sharp knife, position the blade perpendicular to the direction of the muscle fibers. This means you will be holding the knife at a 90-degree angle to the grain. For this dish, we are using a slanted 60-degree angle.
  • Slice the beef while keeping the knife blade perpendicular to the grain. This will result in short, crosswise pieces of beef. For this recipe specifically, be sure that you do not cut the beef no thinner than 1/4 inch thick to prevent the pieces from crumbling off during stir frying and from being overcooked.
  • When cooking with flank steak, it’s a good idea to rinse the slices of beef with water before cooking. This can help prevent a prominent iron taste in the final dish. Additionally, you can use Shaoxing (Shaoshing) cooking wine to help mellow out any gamey flavors in the meat and give it a more refined taste.
  • Remember to slice the beef against the grain only when you’re ready to cook it. If you slice it too far in advance, the meat can dry out and become tough. This is where the velveting process, described below, comes in handy.

What is velveting?

Chinese restaurants use a special technique called “velveting” to make their proteins, like chicken, beef, and shrimp, more tender, moist, and flavorful. This process involves marinating the protein in a mixture of baking soda, cornstarch, and egg whites. The protein should marinate for at least an hour.

Baking soda is an alkaline ingredient that helps to raise the pH level of the meat, which can break down the tough muscle fibers and make the meat more tender. Cornstarch helps to create a protective coating around the meat, which prevents it from drying out during cooking and also helps to thicken the sauce in stir-fry dishes. The egg whites act as a binding agent, helping the marinade to stick to the meat and also providing a silky texture. Lastly, Chinese cooking wine is often used to enhance the flavor of dishes in Chinese cuisine and can also help to eliminate any gamey flavors. Overall, the marinade helps to create an even brown sear and locks in the juiciness.

While the Shaoxing cooking wine and other ingredients can certainly help to purify and enhance the flavors of the meat, they may not be enough to fully mask the iron taste if there is a significant amount of blood still present. Try rinsing the meat with water and patting it dry before marinating it. This can help remove any excess blood and prevent the iron taste from overpowering the other flavors in the dish.

What is blanching?

Blanching is a cooking technique that involves briefly boiling vegetables in water and then quickly transferring them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. When vegetables are blanched, the hot water causes the cells to expand and soften, which can help to break down tough fibers and make them easier to digest. This helps to preserve the vibrant color, crunchy texture, and nutrient content of the vegetables. However, if the vegetables are left in the boiling water for too long, they can become overcooked and lose their color, texture, and nutrients. I prefer to blanch broccoli for two minutes maximum.

A frontal shot of a large ceramic plate on a marble table. The plate is filled with a mouthwatering combination of cooked flank steak and vibrant green broccoli florets in this satisfying beef broccoli recipe.

Special Ingredients

What type of beef is needed for beef broccoli?

In Chinese stir-fry dishes, it’s important to use cuts of beef that are both tender and well-marbled. This ensures that the beef cooks quickly and evenly, without becoming tough or chewy. Some recommended beef cuts for Chinese stir-fry dishes include the following:

  • Flank steak is a lean and tender cut that is the most traditional choice for beef broccoli
  • Sirloin steak is also lean cut
  • Tenderloin is the most tender cut, but it can be expensive

Ultimately, the best cut of beef for your Chinese stir-fry will depend on your personal taste and the recipe.

Which soy sauce do I need?

Soy sauce is a popular condiment used in many Asian dishes, and it comes in several different varieties. Generally, when a recipe calls for soy sauce, it is referring to light or premium soy sauce, which are essentially the same thing. This type of soy sauce has a lighter color and more delicate flavor compared to other types like dark soy sauce, low sodium soy sauce, or tamari.

What is oyster sauce?

Oyster sauce is a thick, dark brown sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine. It is made by simmering oysters in water and soy sauce until the liquid has reduced and thickened. Oyster sauce has a rich, savory flavor with a slightly sweet finish. In addition to its distinctive flavor, oyster sauce is also valued for its thick consistency, which helps to create a glossy finish on dishes. When purchasing oyster sauce, it’s important to check the ingredient list as some brands may use artificial flavorings and preservatives. Quality oyster sauces will have a high percentage of oyster extract and should have a rich, savory flavor.

What is seasoned aromatic vinegar?

Seasoned aromatic vinegar also goes by mature aged black vinegar, sweetened black vinegar, black rice vinegar) is a Chinese seasoning that is used in traditional stir fries, noodles, and rice dishes. It is made from fermented grains which gives it a dark appearance, tart fragrance, and sour taste. If you have ever tasted soup dumplings, you have probably had this sauce before as it is used as a dipping sauce with pieces of ginger. This seasoning not only purifies any gamey flavor of meat but also adds a refreshing taste that complements the dish.

Lastly, in my culture, vinegar has long been considered a magic ingredient with numerous health benefits, such as aiding digestion and regulating blood sugar levels. As a result, in addition to seasonings like this one, there are various types of fruit vinegars, very much like apple cider vinegar, that are produced for consumption as a health tonic. These vinegars are believed to have numerous health benefits and are often used in traditional remedies and natural health practices.

A side angle photo of a large ceramic plate on a marble table. The plate is filled with a mouthwatering combination of cooked flank steak and vibrant green broccoli florets in this satisfying beef broccoli recipe.

Beef Broccoli

Tender slices of sizzling beef with crisp, vibrant broccoli florets, all tossed in a savory sauce.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian, Chinese
Servings 2
Calories 680 kcal

Ingredients
  

Marinade

  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 egg

Broccoli

  • 400 g broccoli florets

Seasoning

  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 2 inches ginger thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions sliced into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese seasoned aromatic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup chicken or beef stock
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp cold water

Instructions
 

  • Steak | Slice the steak into 2.5 inch slabs along the grain. Then into 1/4” thick pieces on a 60-degree angle against the grain.
    Transfer into a bowl, soak in cold water for 5 minutes, and drain. Pat dry.
    Add soy sauce, wine, baking soda, sugar, cornstarch, and egg. Mix well. For best results, marinate sealed and refrigerated for one hour minimum.
  • Broccoli | When the protein is almost done marinating, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add broccoli florets and cook for 2 minutes.
    Drain the broccoli and transfer to an ice bath. Set aside.
  • Assemble | Heat a large pan over high heat. Combine the cornstarch and water. Mix until dissolved.
    Add oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Once the pan is glistening, add the sliced steak and sear for one minute without stirring. Stir fry until almost fully cooked.
    Then, add the garlic, ginger, and scallions. Sauté for one minute until fragrant.
    Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, and vinegar. Stir to combine. Add the stock, broccoli, and cornstarch slurry.
    Stir well until the sauce is reduced and looks thickened. Serve hot.
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