Broccoli Beef

Please welcome guest author Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen who brings us this Chinese-American classic, Broccoli Beef. ~Elise

After moving out of the dorms in college, I found an apartment to share with 3 others. My job was to cook, and as long as what I put out on the dinner table was better than instant ramen, I didn’t have to clean the kitchen or vacuum. A mighty fine trade of labor, if you ask me! But then pretty soon, friends of roommates discovered my cooking talent and would conveniently drop by at around 7pm. I knew cooking was my calling back then, because each new friend would try to find a suitable trade to be able to snag a coveted spot at our dinner table. No more grocery bill, laundry, ironing, washing the car or studying!

Broccoli Beef was one of my specialties, mainly because broccoli was cheap and beef could be sliced thinly to stretch and feed unexpected guests.

So, how do you get the broccoli crisp-tender and the beef juicy, succulent? Well, the secret is to blanch the broccoli first, before stir frying the beef. This helps you control the cooking times for the broccoli, instead of praying that the broccoli and beef finish cooking at the same time. You’ll add the broccoli back into the pan as the beef finishes cooking.

And how do you prevent the garlic from burning? Most recipes will have you add the garlic in the pan or wok before you add the beef. If you do this, you’ll surely burn your garlic, as the beef takes about 1 minute to 1 ½ minutes to cook through on high heat. In this recipe, you’ll add the garlic after you add the beef. There should be plenty of oil in the wok to fry the garlic (if you use a large frying pan or wok) and the timing will be perfect.

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Broccoli Beef Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound flank or sirloin, sliced thinly across the grain
  • 3/4 pound broccoli florets
  • 2 tablespoons high-heat cooking oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely minced or smushed through garlic smusher
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

For the beef marinade

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth

Method

1 Marinate the beef: Stir together the beef marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the beef slices and stir until coated. Let stand for 10 minutes

2 Prepare the sauce: Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

3 Blanch the broccoli: Cook the broccoli in a small pot of boiling, salted water until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

4 Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and instantly evaporates upon contact. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the beef and immediately spread the beef out all over the surface of the wok or pan in a single layer (preferably not touching). Let the beef fry undisturbed for 1 minute. Flip the beef slices over, add the garlic to the pan and fry for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until no longer pink, Pour in the sauce, add the blanched broccoli and bring to a boil. Pour in the dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, 30 seconds.

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Recipe adapted from Martin Yan.

Photo by Jaden Hair.

68 Comments

  1. Amanda

    Oh, one of my absolute favorite dishes!! And it looks so easy to make! Thank you :-)
    Do you think a flat big non-stick frying pan will work ok? I don’t own a wok, but this pan seems to have worked well in the past (it has 2 inch high sides and is a 10 inch diameter I think).
    Also, maybe since I’m using a different type of pan, should I cook the beef in two batches to maintain heat? I do have a gas oven, which helps keep the temperature up at least…

    Hi Amanda – yes, you can use a non-stick frying pan instead of a wok. You should be able to get all of the beef slices in the pan (as long as it’s a large sized pan), but if not, then yes – cook in 2 batches. ~jaden

  2. merd

    I’ve been trying my hand at Asian inspired dishes and have had to stock up on different cooking elements like sesame oil and oyster sauce. Is there any way to make this slightly lower in the sodium department without hurting the integrity of the dish? Between the chicken broth, oyster sauce, and soy sauce – I’m already salivating for a huge glass of water…

    I love beef and broccoli but imagine chicken subs pretty seamlessly for a delicious variation. I already know I’m going to make this one way or another. It’s probably going to get some red pepper flakes, snow peas, and slivers of celery too :)

    Instead of the broth, you can use water! ~jaden

  3. Spring Recipes

    Ah, at last a writer who insists on the importance of not burning the garlic :p
    Actually, even if the garlic is not technically burned, its taste changes and it gives a very heavy feeling to the dish..
    Congratulations to the writer of this recipe !

    Also, I would like to mention that adding some chilli oil (with dried chilli skins if possible) and pickled vegetables at the same time as the beef with make it deliciously hot and sour.
    Yes, I am a fan of Sichuan-style cooking !

  4. kemijoy80@yahoo.com

    This just got starred in my google reader! I love broccoli and love beef stir-fries.

    I almost never fully cook broccoli; I only blanch it, and then toss it in with the sauce to get coated. I love it crunchy.

  5. dorcas

    Oh, one of my absolute favorite dishes!! And it looks so easy to make! Thank you :-)
    Do you think a flat big non-stick frying pan will work ok? I don’t own a wok, but this pan seems to have worked well in the past (it has 2 inch high sides and is a 10 inch diameter I think).
    Also, maybe since I’m using a different type of pan, should I cook the beef in two batches to maintain heat? I do have a gas oven, which helps keep the temperature up at least…

  6. blueyes

    Would chicken be easily replaced without changing any other ingredients?

    Yes, make sure you either slice chicken thinly or add another couple of minutes to cooking time! ~jaden

  7. Vicki Tunell

    Are there any substitues you can recommend for the wine or sherry? I prefer not to cook with alcohol, and would welcome any suggestions! I love beef and broccoli and can’t wait to try this! Thanks.

  8. jonathan

    Garlic smusher?

    Great. Just when I thought I finally had every kitchen gadget I’d ever need, now I find I have to go get a garlic smusher. Suddenly, my garlic press just isn’t good enough.

    Hang on a sec, somebody’s whispering something to me…

    Oh…uh…never mind.

  9. FritoPie

    This sounds great! I wish I could have worked out a suitable barter system in college. Cooking vs cleaning and ironing is a no-brainer!!! :)
    Quick question regarding blanching. I’ve always been told to put the broccoli (or whatever you are blanching) in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Is that true? Or, is that step unnecessary in this recipe?

    you can soak in ice water to stop the cooking, or just pull the broccoli out 30 seconds early. 1 less step! ~jaden

  10. Gina

    Any chance you can substitute another meat? chicken for example?

    chicken would work great! slice thinly and add another minute or two of cooking time to make sure chicken cooks through. ~jaden

  11. Tabitha (From Single to Married)

    thanks for the helpful tips about how to cook the meat and broccoli at the same time. I’m guessing we can use chicken instead of beef? thanks!

    of course! add a minute or two of cooking time – make sure your chicken is cooked through.~jaden

  12. Zoe

    This looks great. I don’t have rice wine though, can I substitute rice wine vinegar for it?

    No, they are different ingredients. Substitute with any white wine or just leave it out! ~jaden

  13. Jen

    Are there any alternatives to soy sauce? My son is allergic to peanuts, soy, eggs, and milk. This recipe looks amazing, I’m just not sure what I can use to substitute for the soy sauce… Any ideas?

    substitute soy and oyster sauce with some sweet plum sauce. different flavor, but will be just as good~jaden

  14. sunny

    Should we dry off meat from marinade before putting it in the hot pan so it doesn’t steam? Or is it ok to just pull it out and put it in the hot pan as is.

    In reference to Jonathan’s remark about the garlic crusher, one can grate it on a microplane. That works very well.

    You don’t have to dry it off totally – as long as you have a super hot pan, and don’t pour in the marinade juices, it should be fine. The cornstarch in the marinade should help the marinade stick to the meat and form a crust. A garlic smusher is really a garlic press – just a ghetto name for it!~jaden

  15. MomCooks!

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was great! I didn’t have oyster sauce so I used Hoisin and it was delicious. I also doubled the amount of sauce – we usually do this. Thanks for making dinner tonight so easy and good.

  16. David Grant

    2 tsp. of marinade for 3/4 lbs of beef? I’m making it right now and that doesn’t come close to “coating” it.

    a marinade is not supposed to drown the beef, it’s supposed to barely coat the meat and just season it. the cornstarch helps coat the marinade around the beef slices.

    if you use too much marinade, you’ll end up steaming the beef in the frying pan, instead of frying it. For this dish, since the garlic is added AFTER the beef, you really want the ingredients in your pan to be drier, otherwise you’ll end up steaming your garlic too.

    There is plenty of sauce with the oyster sauce, soy and broth that comes into the dish.~jaden

  17. David Grant

    My wife complained that there wasn’t enough flavour and we followed the recipe pretty much exactly. I think the reason was that the sauce didn’t thicken so it didn’t stick to things, instead is just ran to the bottom of our plates. I don’t think 1 tsp. cornstarch is enough to thicken 1/4 + 3 Tbsp. of liquid. According to this site: http://missvickie.com/howto/cooking101/cornstarch.htm it should be enough. Perhaps I had the heat too high.

  18. Andrea

    What do you consider a high-heat cooking oil? Regular canola oil or olive oil?
    canola, peanut, vegetable~jaden

  19. Heather

    Has anyone tried this (or any other) recipe using vegetarian oyster sauce. I’ve read it’s made with mushrooms and serves as a fish free alternative to the traditional sauce. Any suggestions of good brands to try? Thanks.

    yes you can use vegetarian oyster sauce – it’s just as good! ~jaden

  20. Sandy

    Someone earlier asked about using a non-stick pan. Alton Brown on Good Eats (Food Network) says you should not use high heat with non-stick; it causes dangerous fumes to be released.

    Depends on what kind of non-stick. Hard anodized aluminum is considered non-stick and is excellent for high heat cooking, with no outgassing. ~Elise

  21. jean

    I made this tonight and loved it. The meat was delicious. And the broccoli was perfect. I served it over brown rice and will eat the leftovers for lunch. Thanks.

  22. Bernie Culliton

    Great Recipe, very simple for a rookie. Love the garlic technique. I realize that this dish is more Cantonese but, Would you add a few drops of Rooster Sauce (Chinese Ketchup) to zip it up a bit?
    Thanks for the recipe.

    You can add rooster sauce to ANYTHING!!! ~jaden

  23. Lu

    Elise, thanks for your great site. Jaden, your recipes are delicious. My question is that I have never used oyster sauce. Is it as high in sodium as fish sauce? Is there such a thing as low sodium for these items? Making this recipe upcoming weekend. Thanks :)

    Well, Oyster sauce has sodium, but not as salty as fish sauce. You might want to try the recipe without the added soy sauce – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it just fine!

  24. Russ

    Just a note to Bob, who asked about using less sodium. I pretty much always use low sodium soy sauce and chicken broth in my cooking and I have found that the flavor never suffers. I tried this recipe and found it one of the best I’ve tried, I just sliced a small red pepper thinly and added that also. Gives it a little more color and a little extra flavor.

  25. Cara

    Is Chinese rice wine the same thing as rice wine vinegar?

    No, Chinese rice wine is a cooking wine; Chinese rice vinegar is a vinegar made from wine, so it’s used as an acid.~jaden

  26. locot

    Here is a tip on getting the really tender velvety texture that you get at the restaurants. As part of the marinade for the meat:

    Just add about a tsp of baking soda. It tenderizes the meat.

    Also right before you’re ready to stir fry the meat…I also like to give it a dusting of corn starch. This make the meat much easier to brown and gives it a little more texture.

  27. Meilin

    Heh, your roommates and their friends were lucky-lucky people Jaden! I used to love broccoli beef but stopped at some point. That will have to change because this recipe looks a lot more foolproof and yummy than the one I used to make. (I was in the “burn the garlic” camp.”) Thank you!

  28. leonardo

    Alternative: Instead of the florets, use broccoli leaves (also rich in vitamins and minerals) and cook the same way. Really DELICIOUS and NUTRITIOUS. Use the florets for fresh salad.

  29. Nick

    Looks like a great recipe but I don’t know how many people something like this will serve. Any ideas?

    Serves 4. Will add to recipe. Thanks! ~jaden

  30. Gail

    Made this recipe and it was excellent and easy too. Had leftovers for lunch 2 days later and it was even better, if you can imagine that. The next time I make this I am going to use chicken, would think you could also use pork. Thanks for all your great recipes, I also enjoy Jaden’s recipe site as well.

  31. Sarah

    I have been following your site for over a year now and have used many of your recipes – I love them all! This is my first time commenting. I made this recipe tonight – it was delicious! I didn’t have any Chinese Rice Wine or Dry Sherry so I used Old Orchard Apple Cherry juice of all things and it turned out amazing! Thanks again – keep the recipes coming!

  32. allie

    what if I don’t have rice wine and just have rice vinegar–i couldn’t find rice wine anywhere…

    Use a dry sherry or just omit from the recipe…it will taste just fine. ~jaden

  33. Michelle

    This was great and so easy to fix. My family loved it!! I never comment on these sites but I wanted to encourage you to keep the recipes coming. Also some of the old time favorites you post remind me of my old family recipes that I’ve just forgotten about over the years. As I make them again, thanks to your reminders, I tell my family stories about who the recipes came from. Thanks, Michelle in Alabama

  34. blueyes

    Just wanted to say I made this recipe last night using chicken and it was wonderful. Thanks so much for all the great recipes. I use quite a lot of them.

  35. Liz

    Thank you so much Jaden. I love Broccoli beef but never found a recipe that looks and sounds as good as this one. I’m going to make this one for sure. Thanks everyone for all the great tips in the comments!

  36. Kris

    This was fantastic! Broccoli beef is one of my favorite things to eat at Chinese restaurants, and I’m so glad that I can now make this myself. Making Chinese food has always been intimidating, so thanks for making it so easy and delicious, Jaden! By the way, I would love to learn how to make sesame chicken!

  37. enmamin

    As a Chinese living in Hong Kong who eats this as a staple dish , I suggest using some ginger to give aroma to the dish. Just add the ginger slices while heating the oil. Then add cook as the recipe above is fine.

  38. Steve Murdoch

    We made this recipe four times and liked the outcome. One comment that should be made is the odd measurements used. The world has been metric for well over thirty years. The metric system makes sure we are using the right amount, teaspoons are 5 ml. No cups, just use millilitres and grams. Once used you will never go back to the old sytem, believe me.

  39. Jeffer

    I made this tonight and it was great. I thought the sauce was way too thin so I added a spoon full of corn starch and it made it absolutely perfect. Just like the Chinese restaurant.

    Thanks!

  40. Linda J

    I made this recipe last night, and it was delicious! I’m normally not a fan of broccoli, but with this sauce, it tasted great and was completely delicious. My only mistake was to buy the pre-sliced ‘for stir-fry’ meat from Publix because I was in a hurry, and it was so chewy that the dish itself lost some of the appeal from spending a couple minutes chewing on each piece of meat.

    I’ve learned for next time though, and plan to make this dish many more times in the future. Yum!

  41. dorian

    Wow, great recipe! I use to eat this a lot as a child. I guess I’m gonna cook that tomorrow! Yay!
    One question: In the ingredients part it asks for 1/4 cup chicken broth. Does this mean 1/4 cup of the powder, or 1/4 cup of powder prepared with water already? I hope somebody can answer my question. Thanks!

    I prefer using liquid chicken broth, however if you use the powdered bullion or the paste concentrate, then follow directions on the package to make 1/4 cup of liquid broth ~jaden

  42. Chrissi

    Hubby loves broccoli beef and I’m always looking for new ways to improve it; we tried this recipe and he’s hooked! thanks :)

  43. Sarah

    I’m looking forward to trying this recipe, it sounds fabulous!

    I found this while searching for low-carb recipes, but I don’t see that it mentions anywhere how many carbs are in this recipe. Do you happen to know?

    Thanks!

    Hello Sarah, the low-carb categorization of this recipe is based on its ingredient list. We do not have the time nor the expertise to provide specific carb counts on the recipes here. You may be able to find an online resource to help you if you need this information. ~Elise

  44. Jan M

    I plan on using your recipe – but am not a fan of oysters. Can you suggest a substitute for the oyster sauce? Also, years ago I recall using cream sherry in the sauce – and we liked it. I’m also going to try blanching the broccoli first. What a great idea! Thank you, and we’re looking forward to enjoying your delicious looking recipe/dish! ~Jan

    Hi Jan-

    There is a sauce called “Mushroom Sauce” or “Vegetarian Oyster Sauce” which has no oysters, but instead is made of mushrooms.
    http://store.ethnicfoodsco.com/grocery/ProdDesc.cfm?itemid=CHLKK002&Description=Vegetarian%20Mushroom%20Flavoured%20Stir-Fry%20Sauce&countryid=&countryname=&countryorderid=

    ~jaden

  45. Rachel

    As a college student, I am just learning how to cook. This recipe was easy and tastes great. Thank you for writing up the recipe, especially the parts about blanching the broccoli first and adding the garlic after the beef – these are things I wouldn’t have known on my own.

  46. Allison

    Just tried your recipe and it was DELISH! I doubled the sauce as we like lots of sauce with our dishes and it was just perfect! :) Thanks so much for sharing!

  47. Marisa

    I followed the directions exactly and it came out beautifully. Thank you!

  48. Charmaine

    Great recipe! Like you, I like my broccoli crunchy so thanks for the tip on blanching it separately before adding to the dish…it works wonderfully. I’m definitely adding this as one of my staple dishes. My family thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Thanks!

    Charmaine

  49. Ghale

    I just made this tonight and it came out delicious. I could not find chinese wine vinegar at the store so I bought rice vinegar and substituted it with that and added a tablespoon more of oyster sauce (I preferred it on a little more of the sweeter side, although if i hadn’t added it I’m sure it would’ve came out good anyway). Very, very delicious, I was impressed because there are many recipes out there but this one comes close, especially to chinese authentic broccoli-beef. Thank you!

  50. Jasmine

    I want to use regular sherry, instead of dry sherry. Is that okay?

    Yes that is fine! ~jaden

  51. Alex

    Just made this. Loved it. Added some noodles to make it go further and it was a great hit.

  52. xta

    Delicious and only took about 20 mins total. I added extra ginger and garlic because we love that. Thank you!

  53. DesperateWife101

    Thanks for a great meal!! My husband loved it! I followed the recipe and it came out perfect! Better than going to a restaurant! Thanks Again!

  54. Donna

    This is so good. I doubled the sauce recipe and added onion, fresh ginger and red pepper flakes also some bean sprouts and there was nothing leftover (so sad). Will make again soon!

  55. Crosie73

    Made this for dinner tonight! Oh my goodness. The tip about cooking the beef in small batches totally MADE this dish. I doubled the sauce and the meat. The recipe fed four including a teenaged boy and hungry husband. Thanks for a GREAT recipe!

  56. KimA

    Thanks for this recipe! My husband and I made it Friday night along with some noodles from your friend The Pioneer Woman and it was so fresh and delicious! Way better than restaurant food.

  57. Elisabeth

    I made this recipe for dinner tonight and made the mistake of adding salt to the meat. I tasted it *before* I added the sauce so I didn’t know that it’s actually the sauce that contains all the salt the dish needs. Anyway, my husband loved it! Next time I’ll just make sure to follow the directions exactly how they are.

    This was my first time trying a recipe from this blog and now I’m super eager to try another one. I think the Carrot Cake recipe is next!

  58. Mark

    I don’t normally post comments but I had to say this is a great recipe. The only change I made was to add some mushrooms. I might add some green peppers and / or onions next time. Just as good as you’d get at a restaurant.

  59. christine

    Thanks, Jaden! I’ve made this recipe a few times and it never fails! :) I also don’t like oyster sauce, and the flavor of mushroom sauce weirds me out, so I usually mix together a little teriyaki and mushroom sauce to substitute for oyster sauce. I’m sure it changes the flavor, but it still tastes great!

  60. Linda

    This was delicious and easy to make. Thanks for posting.

  61. Wendi

    I love this!! It is unbelievable how good this tastes!

  62. Spira

    Delicious! I didn’t have any of the special ingredients (vinegar, wine, etc) so I just added a little extra soy sauce and some sesame oil. I’ll be making this again, so cheap!

  63. Lisa

    How many does this serve? I am cooking for a large crowd and wanted to make this but don’t know how to multiply the recipe to feed the number of guests I will have. Looks like a yummy dish! Thanks for sharing! :)

    Recipe feeds 4-6 as a side dish! But if I’m cooking many other dishes, I’ll actually make this recipe as is and it will feed 8. ~jaden>

  64. Tracy

    I had trouble with this recipe. The sauce didn’t thicken, so I let it simmer longer than it called for, which overcooked the meat. The only thing I did differently was double it (I did saute the meat in 2 batches so it browned instead of steamed). Would doubling it have made such a difference?

    Well, when you double the amount of liquid in a pan, it takes longer to come to a boil and thicken, but it shouldn’t have made such a big difference. ~jaden

  65. Melisa

    Just made this dish for my family tonight. My family and I really loved it! This is definitely going to become one of our family favorites to be repeated! Thanks for a great recipe!

  66. Cam

    Jaden,

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I have been searching for a Beef and Broccoli recipe for a while now. This recipe is AWESOME!!! I was a bit nervous about it at first but this tasted better than any I have ordered at Chinese restaurants. This is a favorite around our house. Thank you!

  67. Brian

    I just made this tonight, and it was a big hit.

    Unfortunately I just moved a few weeks ago and just realized I left my nice beautifully seasoned wok at my old apartment. I made it work though.

    A few things I would suggest. Use low sodium chicken broth. The brand I used, Butterball, is a little on the salty side, and I thing it made it a little too salty. I used to use shaoxing wine, but it was the cooking variety and full of sodium and ended up ruining dishes. So I found a good dry sherry. Can’t seem to find the actual shaoxing anywhere…but I am wary of salt ruining the dish, so I think next time I’ll go with low sodium broth.

    And maybe the sauce called for a little too much. I had to reduce it a bit by separating it out in a saucepan. I also added a little extra corn starch. That may have affected the salt concentration as well.

    Also I might add a little more broccoli, but that’s just a preference of mine.

  68. Bobi Pixley

    I really liked this recipe! The sauce is perfect. I also made it without meat and increasing the broccoli to 1 pound. Surprisingly, I LOVED it this way and served cold like a salad.

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