Black pepper beef stir-fry (黑椒牛柳)

Tender and succulent beef strips with a black pepper flavoured sauce, Chinese black pepper beef stir-fry can be made at home to a restaurant standard. 

Tender and succulent beef strips with a black pepper flavoured sauce, Chinese black pepper beef stir-fry can be made at home to a restaurant standard.

Once I was asked what is the difference between Chinese cuisine and Western cooking. I said:“Chinese cooks slice the food before serving whereas Western diners slice the food after being served.” I know it’s not true in all cases, but in general I think it’s correct. Take beef steak for example. Instead of cooking a large piece, Chinese prefer slicing the meat to make a quick stir-fry. Today I’d like to introduce a classic dish using steak as the main ingredient: Black pepper beef stir-fry (黑椒牛柳).

What makes a plate of black pepper beef stir-fry stand out, in my opinion, is the succulence, tenderness of the beef strips and the generous use of freshly ground black pepper. To achieve the first goal, I have a few tips for you.

Tender and succulent beef strips with a black pepper flavoured sauce, Chinese black pepper beef stir-fry can be made at home to a restaurant standard.

  1. Choose a cut of beef ideal for quick stir-fry. Flank steak and skirt steak are the best candidates.
  2. Slice the beef against the grain. Otherwise you will get a chewy, tough texture.
  3. Marinate the beef with classic Chinese marinade mixture which contains cornstarch, rice wine, soy sauce, etc.
  4. Keep the wok hot and move fast when stir frying. Follow the cooking sequence: First, quickly sear the beef then remove it from the wok. Fry the vegetables for a while then return the beef back to the wok. Overcooking will reduce the tenderness.
  5. Cheaper cuts of beef (braising beef for example) are not ideal but acceptable for this dish. Just make sure to tenderize it with baking soda first (Chinese restaurant chefs usually do this). Afterwards, I always rinse the beef before marinating to reduce the unpleasant taste of baking soda.

Tender and succulent beef strips with a black pepper flavoured sauce, Chinese black pepper beef stir-fry can be made at home to a restaurant standard.

Once you have the tender, succulent beef cooked, the last step is to stir in the sauce containing oyster sauce, soy sauce, and of course, lots of black pepper. Compare to chilli, black pepper offers a more discreet sensation of hotness. It doesn’t burn you but its aroma will linger in your mouth for quite a while. For this beef stir-fry, be generous with black pepper and use freshly ground ones. This is what makes your dish exciting.

Onion and bell pepper are classic ingredients for black pepper beef stir-fry. However, you are free to use other vegetables too. Vegetables with a bit of crunchiness, such as broccoli, asparagus, celery and sugar snap peas, work very well.

Black pepper beef stir-fry (黑椒牛柳)
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Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Serving Size: 2 persons

Black pepper beef stir-fry (黑椒牛柳)

Tender and succulent beef strips with a black pepper flavoured sauce, Chinese black pepper beef stir-fry can be made at home to a restaurant standard.

Ingredients

  • 350g / 12oz flank or skirt steak, sliced into strips against the grain (see note 1 & 2)
  • 1 onion, julienned
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons + 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil
  • For the marinade
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, julienned
  • For the sauce
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water

Instructions

  1. Marinate the meat first. Leave to combine for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Mix the sauce then set aside.
  3. Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok (or frying pan) over a high heat. Sear the marinated beef until it turns brown (should still be pink inside). Transfer it to a separate plate.
  4. Add onion and pepper to the remaining oil in the wok. Cook for a minute or so.
  5. Put the beef back into the wok. Stir fry for another 1-2 minutes until the beef is fully cooked.
  6. Pour in the sauce. Stir until the sauce becomes thick enough to coat the beef and vegetables nicely.
  7. Sprinkle more ground black pepper on top for more intense flavour (optional). Serve hot with steamed rice.

Notes

1. Flank steak and skirt steak are the best cut of beef for quick stir-fry. Slicing it across the grain is the key to tenderness.

2. Using a cheaper cut of beef (for braising) is not ideal but acceptable. You need to tenderize it before marinating. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with sliced beef then leave for at least 30 mins. Rinse the beef in 500ml / 2 cups of water with 4 teaspoons of vinegar. Then rinse again under running water.This is to remove the unpleasant soda flavour left on the meat. Drain well before adding to the marinade mixture.

https://redhousespice.com/black-pepper-beef-stir-fry/

Hope this classic stir-fry brings you some inspiration for dinner. To discover other recipes using beef, please click links below.

Have a yummy day!

An enthusiastic cook with a Chinese palate and a global mindset.

Spiced beef flatbread (香酥牛肉饼)

Chinese spiced beef and potato stew (土豆炖牛肉)

Tender and succulent beef strips with a black pepper flavoured sauce, Chinese black pepper beef stir-fry can be made at home to a restaurant standard.

5 thoughts

  1. Hello delicious, goodbye takeout! This looks so much better (and healthier) than what I usually pay double for– can’t wait to try it!

  2. Thank you Karly! Yes! Home cooking is so much healthier and cheaper. Many Chinese take-away dishes can be made at home easily. When you know how, it’s just a matter of 5-minute stir frying. Happy cooking!

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