Flavorful Chinese Broccoli Beef Stir-Fry
Experience the exquisite taste of stir-fried beef with gai lan, a recipe that will tantalize your taste buds
- For the Beef and Marinade:
3/4 pound of thinly sliced beef flank steak (about 1/8 inch thick), sliced against the grain
1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of Shaoxing wine
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil or 2 teaspoons of canola oil
1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of powdered white pepper
- For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
2 teaspoons of oyster sauce
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of cornstarch
- For the Stir-Fry:
1/2 pound of Chinese broccoli (gai lan or baby gai lan), cut into diagonal sections if using regular gai lan, or halved diagonally if using baby gai lan
2 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil (divided)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
8 garlic cloves, chopped in a rough manner.
Cooked white rice, for serving
- For the Beef and Marinade: In a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly mix the beef with all the marinade ingredients. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, for the Sauce: In a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients and set them aside.
For the Stir-Fry: Fill a wok halfway with water, add some salt, and bring it to a boil. Add the Chinese broccoli and cook until it reaches a crisp-tender consistency, approximately 1 minute for regular gai lan and 30 seconds for baby gai lan. Drain and set aside.
- Wipe the wok dry and return it to the heat. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat until it starts to smoke. Add the beef, spreading it out evenly with a spatula, and cook without stirring until it lightly browns on the bottom, which should take about 1 minute. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until it’s about halfway cooked through, roughly 2 minutes longer. Move the beef to a bowl and place it aside.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok and heat it over high heat until it begins to smoke. Add the shallots and garlic, stirring constantly, until they become softened, approximately 1 minute. Add the Chinese broccoli and cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 1 minute. Season with salt.
- Reintroduce the beef into the wok and combine all the ingredients by tossing. Stir the sauce to combine, then pour it into the center of the wok and stir to incorporate. Keep cooking and stirring until the sauce starts to thicken, which should take about 1 minute. Immediately transfer the stir-fry to a serving platter and serve it with white rice.
- When you’re shopping for Chinese broccoli, keep an eye out for bright green leaves that are free from bruises, with a crisp texture and no yellow spots. Ensure that the small flower buds are tightly packed and compact. Additionally, inspect the stalk ends to confirm they are not dry or crusty.
If I were to compile a list of the top five classic Cantonese dishes, beef with broccoli would undoubtedly secure a spot. Many North Americans recognize it as a common item on Chinese fast-food menus, featuring tender beef strips and broccoli florets. However, the authentic version employs gai lan, also known as Chinese broccoli.
Not familiar with gai lan? It possesses a taste akin to a milder version of broccoli rabe, with thick stalks, broad flat leaves, and occasional small flower buds. Gai lan shines when stir-fried with a touch of garlic or poached and drizzled with oyster sauce, garnished with crispy fried garlic. Its robust flavor also pairs exceptionally well with meats like pork belly and beef.