Stir-Fried Beef with Broccoli

This is an easy and satisfying staple to have in your repertoire, and it’s better than any takeout you can order. It begins with beef cooked in a super-hot pan to sear it and give it an almost smoky flavor. The beef is removed from the pan and the Chinese trinity is added, followed by the broccoli and sauce, and then the meat is returned. It’s a simple, nutritious dish, a perfect weeknight meal. If you have the time, cut everything up long before you cook it, even the evening before—makes the meal prep go lickety-split, no longer than the rice takes to cook.

I became somewhat obsessed with this recipe after a lovely article in the New York Times by Sam Sifton, who asked Jonathan Wu, a chef in Brooklyn, for his take on beef with broccoli. The revelation for me had nothing to do with the beef or broccoli, but rather with the butter. Butter? Yes, this chef finishes Chinese dishes with butter. Brilliant, of course. But then I got an idea from chef Dale Talde: Why not use beurre manié, the classic French thickener? I tried it and it worked like a charm, thickening the sauce while also enriching it and making it voluptuously glossy.

Flank steak and skirt steak are the best cuts of beef to use for this dish, or any beef stir-fry, but most cuts that aren’t too tough will work.

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry, Shaoxing wine, or dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 pound/450 grams flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
  • ¼ cup oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce with garlic
  • 1 to 2 cups/240 to 480 milliliters water, Vegetable Stock, One-Hour Beef Stock, store-bought broth, or a combination
  • 5 tablespoons/75 milliliters vegetable oil
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 (1-inch/2.5-centimeter) piece ginger, grated
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces/225 grams broccoli florets, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour kneaded into 2 tablespoons/30 grams room-temperature unsalted butter (beurre manié)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Method

Combine the sherry, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a large bowl and mix well. Add the beef and toss well; allow to marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or overnight, covered, in the refrigerator, tossing it every now and then.

In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, chili sauce, and ½ cup/120 milliliters of the water or stock and stir till they’re well mixed.

Get a large sauté pan or wok very hot over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. When it’s hot, add the beef and stir-fry till it’s cooked through and the liquid has cooked off, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the beef to a plate. Add another ½ cup/120 milliliters water or stock to the pan and deglaze it. Pour the deglazing liquid and fond into the oyster sauce mixture.

Wipe out the pan and return it to high heat. When it is hot, add another 2 tablespoons oil; when the oil is smoking, add the scallions, ginger, and garlic and stir-fry till tender, about a minute. Add the broccoli and stir-fry until the broccoli becomes bright green and starts to get tender, a few minutes (if your broccoli pieces are large, add a few tablespoons of water to speed the cooking). Add the oyster sauce mixture and simmer over high heat till the broccoli is al dente, a few more minutes. Return the beef to the pan and cook for another minute or so. If you feel the dish needs more liquid, add more water or stock.

To finish, add half of the beurre manié to the pan and stir to thicken the sauce. If it is too thick, add a little more water or stock. If it’s too thin, add the remaining beurre manié. Drizzle with the sesame oil and serve immediately.