Beef with Oyster Sauce

This classic southern Chinese dish is now a Thai staple; indeed, some Thai cooks maintain that, au contraire, they taught the Chinese how to make it!

Whatever the case, the Thai touch is manifest here and the dish is equally delicious as its Chinese cousin. Remember: oyster sauce is rich but never β€˜fishy’.


  • 450 g (1 lb) lean beef steak
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 3 tablespoons groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh ginger
  • 2 large fresh red Thai chillies, seeded and sliced
  • 5 spring onions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce


Put the beef in the freezing compartment of your refrigerator for 20 minutes. This will allow the meat to harden slightly for easier cutting. Then cut it into thin slices 5 cm (2 in) long and 5 mm (1Β½ in) thick and put them into a bowl. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine and cornflour. Let the mixture marinate for 20 minutes.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the groundnut oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the beef and stir-fry for 3–4 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and drain well in a stainless-steel colander set inside a bowl.

Reheat the wok and when it is hot again, add the garlic, ginger, chillies and spring onions. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then add the oyster sauce, and bring it to a simmer. Return the drained beef slices and toss them thoroughly with the sauce. Turn the mixture onto a warm serving platter and serve at once.