This broccoli beef recipe is one of my favorites, as it tastes just like something you’d get in a restaurant. The broccoli beef part of the recipe comes to me from a Chinese cooking class I took in Scottsdale, AZ, where I lived briefly after I returned from living in Taiwan. Tom added his own touch to this recipe by suggesting we serve it over pappardelle, which was absolutely delicious.
There are a few key things to getting this recipe right. One, you need access to thinly sliced beef, preferably ribeye. Luckily, in Philadelphia, thanks to cheesesteak culture, this isn’t actually that hard to find. We got ours at the Fitler Square farmers’ market via Jennings Farm, which has all grass-fed beef.
Another key to this recipe is the technique of marinating the meat known as “silking” or “velveting.” It is a great way to get tender meat when you stir fry, and works well for chicken, beef, and pork. This normally involves cornstarch, but lately we’ve been substituting powdered cashew nuts for cornstarch, which is a technique we borrowed from Indian curry recipes. It’s not as silky as cornstarch and certainly adds a nutty flavor, but we like it.
While I have been making a cornstarch substitute, one thing I don’t like to substitute is the Shaoxing rice wine. The recipe says you can use sherry (real sherry, not cooking sherry and not sherry vinegar), but I prefer the flavor from the rice wine. I was able to get it for about $2.00 at a local Asian market.
Along with the beef from Jennings Farm, we also had some lovely broccoli from Highland Orchards, also via the Fitler Square farmers’ market.
Broccoli Beef Recipe:
1 lb. thinly sliced beef
2 tbsp. cornstarch (I substitute powdered cashew nuts)
2 tbsp. sherry or Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing)
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. broccoli, cut into flowers, stalks peeled and sliced
1 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tsp. sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. water
1. Marinate the beef in cornstarch (or substitute powdered cashews), wine, and soy sauce for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
2. Heat your wok and add 2 tbsp. cooking oil. Stir fry the garlic briefly (you can also add minced ginger at this step; the recipe doesn’t call for it specifically, but it’s such a staple of Chinese stir fry that I often add it anyway out of habit), then add the broccoli. Stir fry approx. 2 minutes while adding splashes of water if desired to produce steam. Sprinkle with salt, mix, and remove to bowl.
3. Heat another 2 tbsp. cooking oil and stir fry the meat mixture until the color of the meat turns brown (if especially juicy, you may want to drain the meat before adding the sauce). Mix in the oyster sauce, sugar, and the cooked broccoli and mix well. Add 1 to 2 tbsp. water if the sauce is too thick.
(Adapted from original recipe by Chau Liaw, Best of Basic Chinese, The House of Rice Store)
This same basic recipe works with other kinds of meat, too; one time we made it with bison meat, which was wonderful. Normally I would serve this with rice, but I thought Tom’s pappardelle suggestion worked wonderfully.
I’m looking forward to the next time Jennings Farm comes back to the Fitler Square farmers’ market so we can get some more beef and have this again!