Stir-fried Beef with Broccoli

Beef is an American favourite, but it has never been popular among the Chinese. Meats, in any case, are never the centrepiece of Chinese meals. A small quantity of meat or seafood serves to enliven and diversify the various dishes, which are dominated by vegetables and grains. In many Chinese dishes, vegetables overwhelm the meat.

This popular Chinese restaurant dish - beef with broccoli - illustrates the Chinese approach; it could as well be called ‘broccoli with beef’. In the West, however, rather more beef is used than would be customary in China.

The simple stir-fried dish is admirable for its freshness and completeness. Chinese-American chefs fairly quickly adopted the slightly sweet Western broccoli and paired it with the always popular beef for a mouth-watering combination.


  • 450 g (1 lb) broccoli
  • 450 g (1 lb) rump steak
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 3 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fermented black beans
  • 4 tablespoons Chinese Chicken Stock or store-bought fresh stock
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce


Separate the broccoli florets; peel the stalks and thinly slice on the diagonal. Blanch the broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and plunge into cold water. Drain thoroughly.

Cut the steak in half lengthways, then into thin slices 5 cm (2 in) wide and 5 mm (¼ in) thick, cutting against the grain. Mix the beef with 2 teaspoons of light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of rice wine, the sesame oil, bicarbonate of soda and cornflour. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Heat a wok or deep pan until it is very hot. Swirl in the groundnut oil and, when it is very hot and smoking, add the beef and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and drain off all but 1 tablespoon of oil.

Reheat the wok, toss in the garlic and black beans and stir-fry for 1 minute. Then pour in the chicken stock, the dark soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of rice wine and the sugar and bring to the boil over a high heat. Dump in the broccoli and then the oyster sauce. Mix well, return the beef to the wok and continue to cook for another minute.

Transfer the contents to a large platter and serve at once.