Five minute stir-fry beef

A wonderful Indonesian phrase is jam karet, meaning ‘rubber time’. It describes a relaxed attitude to timing, flowing through life like a meandering river enjoying the journey rather than worrying unduly about speed or punctuality. This is a recipe for the opposite of days, a stir-fry that gets a flavour-packed meal on the table in five minutes flat.


  • 300 g (10½ oz) finely minced lean beef
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, seeds in, finely sliced
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, seeds in, finely sliced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons kecap manis
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • handful fresh beansprouts
  • large bunch of Thai basil, leaves picked
  • juice of a lime


Get your ingredients ready before you start cooking as it’ll move quickly. Season the beef with a little salt.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for just a moment before adding the beef. Quickly break up the meat, incorporating the garlic, then turn the heat to high. Allow the beef to properly brown and caramelise before stirring again. Once it has good colour all over and some flavourful crusty brown bits, stir in the remaining ingredients. The beansprouts will wilt slightly in the heat of the pan.

Serve at once with noodles or crisp salad leaves.