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beef and broccoli
Beef, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Spicy

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

by Nick

One bonus of getting married (besides everlasting love) is that we’ve gotten a number of gifts for the kitchen. So many in fact that we can’t actually store them all in our very small kitchen. So we’ve kind of temporarily converted our second bedroom into a kitchen gadget store room. Eventually we’re gonna donate a lot of our old stuff and consolidate.

Trust me though. I’m not complaining. I’m like a kid in a candy store. One of the gifts we received that I’ve been dying for is a really nice wok. In the past, when I made stir-fries, I used a normal pan, but now I can use a real deal wok and it’s a lot of fun.

My first meal with my new toy was this simple and delicious beef and broccoli stir-fry.

My main problem with most beef and broccoli stir-fries comes down to two issues that most take-out joints fail at. First, the broccoli is normally WAY overcooked. Soggy broccoli sucks. Second, the whole dish is way over-sauced and goopy. I think this recipe and cooking method gets rid of both of those issues.

Yield
Serves 4.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beef, sliced thin (strip steak or flank steak work great)
  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 inches of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tablespoon neutral oil
  • Brown rice (or your favorite) for serving
  • Marinade for beef:
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 Teaspoon chili oil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes and fresh ground pepper
  • Sauce:
  • 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 Teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon chili oil
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock (or water)
  • Fresh ground pepper

Helpful Equipment

  • A wok! (But you can use any large saute pan.) I'm not going to link to a specific wok recommendation. More on that in the post.

Directions

1) Slice the steak thinly. Whisk together marinade ingredients and marinade steak for at least 15 minutes.

2) Blanch broccoli florets in salted water for 1.5-2 minutes. Then dunk them in ice water to stop the cooking.

3) Prep all the other stir fry ingredients and whisk together your sauce ingredients. Make sure everything is ready before you start cooking.

4) Get your pan over high heat and let it heat until it's really hot. Then add a drizzle of oil and the steak. Cook it for about 90 seconds, until it's mostly cooked.

5) Next, add the red peppers and cook for another minute. Then add in the ginger and garlic and cook for another 15 seconds.

6) Pour in sauce and stir. Add in blanched broccoli and cook for another minute. Sauce should reduce down immediately.

7) Serve stir fry with rice!

Preparing the Beef

Marinating the beef before cooking for 15 minutes or so gives it a flavor boost and also the corn starch helps it to form a good crust on the outside of the beef as it cooks. Try to slice your beef pretty thin, but not deli style thin.

beef marinating

Slice it thin people.

Prepping other stuff

While the beef is marinating, go ahead and prep all your other ingredients. You want to make sure you have everything ready before you start cooking this meal.

To solve the soggy broccoli problem, blanch the broccoli florets in boiling salted water for about 90 seconds – 2 minutes. They should be bright green. Then transfer them straight to an ice bath (also salted) to stop the cooking process. The florets should be bright green and still have a little crunch to them.

Now you can add them right at the very end of the cooking process and they’ll be perfectly cooked by the time they heat up.

Other stuff

Don’t go light on the garlic and ginger.

Making the sauce

If you cook stir-fries regularly, you’ll probably have most of these ingredients already. I actually was out of rice wine vinegar so I substituted white wine vinegar without any noticeable difference in flavor. Also, be careful with the oyster sauce. That’s the stuff where if you over-do it you can end up with the dreaded goopy sauce of take-out places.

But used correctly, it’s delicious.

sauce

Saucy!

The Pan in Question

The reason I didn’t really recommend a specific wok is because I’m not sure that I know enough about them to feel comfortable doing so. I can tell you that based on my somewhat limited research, it seems like there are only two kinds that are worth getting if you’re in the market: A stainless steel style with an aluminum or copper core or a more traditional carbon steel variety. These are the best styles for even heating and high heat cooking.

The cored stainless steel is easy to clean and maintain and the carbon steel acts like cast iron in that it needs to be treated and seasoned. For the home kitchen, I think both probably wok fine. (So punny)

I ended up getting the stainless steel version and I’m very happy with it after the first use. Maybe someday if I have enough room in my kitchen, I’ll pick up a carbon steel variety just for comparison (they are a lot cheaper also).

The wok

The beast.

Cooking the Stir-Fry

Regardless of what pan you are using, put it over high heat and get it hot. A drop of water should sizzle and evaporate instantly on it. Then add your oil to the pan and it should glisten immediately. Throw in your beef next and arrange the pieces around the pan. They should cook after just 30 seconds or maybe a bit longer.

Next add your red pepper and give everything a toss. If the dish looks really dry at any point, add a bit more oil.

So literally, you’ve been cooking for maybe a minute or 90 seconds at this point and it’s time to add the ginger and garlic. I made a little well right in the middle and tossed those in. Adding them that close to the end ensures that they won’t burn.

cooking in the wok

Wok cooking goes fast…

After 10-15 seconds of cooking the garlic and ginger, add the sauce to the pan. It should sizzle like crazy and start thickening right away. After another 15 seconds or so, add your broccoli to the pan.

broc added

Blanching this stuff is KEY.

Another 20-30 seconds and your sauce should be thick, but not goopy and everything should be perfectly cooked. Pour it out on a big platter and let people help themselves to some rice and stir-fry!

beef and broccoli

What’s not to love?!

As you can imagine, there are a ton of variations on this dish, but this is a really good start.

Has anyone used or owned a carbon steel wok? This dish turned out great for me in the aluminum core stainless steel, but I’m naturally curious.

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16 comments on “Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

  1. Oh no — I totally covet your wok! It's one of the things I want most in my kitchen world, but so impractical in my space. Sigh…

    At least I can live vicariously through your stir fries, right?

    1. Haha… yea… our kitchen is pretty small too. I'm taking over our second bedroom at the moment with large kitchen appliances.

  2. zomg! is that an all clad wok!? i've often mentioned (only half-joking) that i want to get married just for the kitchen aid mixer and the all clad pans!! no more cooking out of rei cookware for me! :)

    1. It's the Calphalon Tri-ply series which is the exact same construction and materials that all-clad uses I think. When we were registering for stuff I went to the store and held the two side by side and couldn't tell a difference. Both are stainless steel with alumninum core and very heavy and sturdy. The Calphalon version is about $30 cheaper.

      In my humble opinion, I think the All-Clad brand might be a tad bit overpriced so I thought I'd save my gift buyers some cash.

  3. That's one good-looking wok, Nick! I own a carbon steel wok, but I never use it even though I make stir-fry 2x a week. My problem: an electric stove top. I just can't get a traditional wok hot enough, so I use a large, flat-bottom teflon skillet instead.

    Do you have a gas or electric range in your apartment? Do you find it affects your cooking when you're forced to use one instead of the other?

    1. Oh electric ranges are killer. I have gas in my apartment and when I move it's actually very high up on my list of things I want in an apartment. Of course, I can cook on electric but I find it very hard to get stuff hot or maintain a steady heat.

      Stir-fries really suffer on electric ranges…

  4. Here's the deal with woks; carbon steel is the more traditional variety of wok, but it's also traditionally used over a 35000 BTU wok burner, not a tiny little western burner to maintain the high temperature in the wok. When you add cold food to your wok, no matter how hot it is, it's going to drop the temperature of the wok, and we all know how important it is to have a hot wok, you can't achieve what is called "wok hay" without it. Neither stainless, nor carbon steel hold enough heat on a western style stove to really be able to keep that "sizzle" that you hear on a hot wok going, when it's filled with cold food. The answer here is cast iron. Look for a heavy cast iron wok ( you won't be able to pick it up and toss your food, so get a big wok spoon as well ), but get it blazing hot on the stove (preheat 5 min at least) and then throw your cold food in. The "heat bounce" will be significantly smaller because the heavy vessel holds more heat, and you'll get a better sear on the food.

    Bodum makes an awesome cast iron wok, and they're usually 1/2 price from any of the stainless ones – especially all clad. Don't bother with the fancy le creuset woks, heavy raw cast iron will give you the best results.

    @DarrinG on twitter

  5. I wrote about the beauty of carbon steel for the Post. If you have gas I don't care what your stove kicks in terms of BTU's. Grab a carbon steel wok, season it well, and re-gift that all-clad gimmick. I know, I know, it's pretty. But it's not as pretty as the black patina you have to earn by cooking meal after meal.

    And as a bonus if you've got some outdoor space, you can buy the propane burners that rednecks use to fry turkeys. Plenty of BTU's for wok hey hay hay. In working that article I spent time in the front yard on fried rice…. I'm serious. Convert. You will be happy. And if you haven't bought the all-clad yet, put it down and head to H-mart.

    Just look at this thing http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/arti

    Nick buy a turkey fryer or find a friend who has one and invite me over. I'll let you take her for a test drive.

  6. you better share the other gifts you got–i am dying to know.

    did you get a lot of kitchen stuff? we didn't get any when we got married :-( just money, but that's just as good.

    i do have a small all-clad copper core collection going, and i'm happy to say i'm obessed with all-clad

  7. I agree with getting a wok burner. I like it just as much as my webber grill. I actually use my wok burner much more than I use my grill. You can't go wrong with a carbon steel wok.

    Once properly seasoned it is as good as any non-stick pan you own.

    The secret to using a wok on a stove top is to have all the ingredients at room temperature. This insures that the food doesn't cool down the wok and have to recover. Thaw out frozen veggies for at least 30 minutes and add a little at a time.

    I like this website and will come back.

  8. I just tried your recipe and it turned out really good. I loved it.. And I’m a lousy cook, so it’s a great simple recipe.

    I’ll be checking out more recipes on your site.

    Thanks.

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