Beef and Broccoli is one of the most recognizable American Chinese takeout dishes and my version is a favorite amongst family and friends! The beef is super tender and the sauce is salty & sweet – it’s absolutely perfect over a bowl of steamed rice!
Watch the Beef and Broccoli Recipe Video Below!
What makes Beef and Broccoli so delicious?
The wok-seared beef is so juicy and succulent thanks to the baking soda marinade. It’s perfect over some steamed white rice with the fresh broccoli and savory sauce!
I always like to garnish mine with fresh sesame seeds for a perfect weeknight meal that comes together in minutes. The success of this recipe is all in the prep! It’s important to have everything ready to go before you cook the dish in the pan, because the cooking process is extremely quick!
Beef and Broccoli has easily become one of the dishes in the weekly rotation! It’s really a simple combination of the tender marinated flank steak, crisp broccoli, aromatics, and savory umami rich sauce that really brings it all together!
If you are not a big red meat eater, be sure to check out my Chicken & Broccoli recipe!
Marinating Your Beef
Once your steak is sliced thinly against the grain, marinate it with the following ingredients for at least 20 minutes:
- Baking soda
- Soy Sauce
- Oyster Sauce
- White Pepper
- Kosher Salt
- Neutral Oil
The marinated beef should look like this once the ingredients are combined – not too wet and not too dry. It’s the perfect marinade for a quick sear in the wok!
Other Ingredient Tips (and why blanching your broccoli is important!)
I recommend you avoid the pre-cut broccoli and get crowns from the store that you can cut yourself. It’s important that the broccoli is cut to similar sized pieces (1″) so they cook evenly and are distributed equally throughout the dish. I’ve noticed that pre-cut broccoli range widely in size, which will result in some broccoli pieces being under-cooked, while others will be over-cooked.
Make sure you are slicing against the grain. You’ll know which direction the grain is when you look at the meat – the lines will be running in one direction (the lines are the muscle fibers). Slicing against the grain is an easy way to ensure your meat will be tender. (Remember, the lines are the muscle fibers – cutting against the lines means you’re cutting the long fibers, so they don’t get tough when cooked!)
This is the KEY ingredient to super tender beef. Baking soda is commonly used in Chinese cooking to tenderize beef. If you’re curious about the science behind it – baking soda neutralizes acid and raises the pH level, which causes the meat to become more alkaline. This means the proteins INSIDE the meat will have more trouble tightening up – when the proteins can’t tighten up, the meat ends up much more tender when cooked (instead of constricting together aka getting tough!)
My favorite neutral oil is avocado oil, but you can also use canola or vegetable oil! I don’t use olive oil when cooking Chinese food for two reasons: 1. It has a low burning point and 2. I find that the flavor profile does not usually go with the dish.
I get asked all the time if you can sub black pepper for white pepper – and my answer is, it depends BUT you need to watch the ratio. White pepper has a milder flavor profile than black pepper, so it’s a 1-1 substitute. I would start with less black pepper and add as you go. (But really, you should have white pepper in your pantry! It’s a staple in mine!)
LIGHT vs. DARK SOY SAUCE
Yes, they’re different! Dark soy sauce is thicker, darker, and sweeter (as well as has a higher sodium content) than regular soy sauce. If you do not have dark soy sauce on hand, you can substitute with oyster sauce.
As always, this is optional 🙂
A cornstarch slurry is a mixture of cornstarch and water that is used in cooking to thicken WITHOUT powdery lumps or additional flavors/colors! This is the secret to so many of your favorite Chinese dishes. My #1 tip is make sure your cornstarch slurry has not separated before adding it in – I always try to re-stir right before!
BLANCH YOUR BROCCOLI
I highly recommend blanching your broccoli before using it in a stir-fry (such as this dish) – the 30 seconds in hot water will help soften the vegetable (so it doesn’t take too long to cook in the wok and get inadvertently soggy), brighten the color, and also keep the dish from being overwhelmed by broccoli flavor.
Velveting is a key Chinese cooking technique that involves marinating the protein in cornstarch and various seasonings (such as white pepper, salt, shaoxing wine, and oils) before quickly passing it through hot oil. It’s one of my favorite ways to guarantee moist and tender meat, and it’s a trick that I don’t hear home chefs talk about often. I love incorporating it into my recipes because it’s one of the best ways to make restaurant quality Chinese food at home!
SUCCESS IS IN THE PREP!
Once you start cooking, this recipe will come together very quickly. The key to pulling this off successfully is having all of your ingredients prepped and in bowls right next to your wok or pan! Have your premixed sauce, noodles, and vegetables ready and easily accessible during the cooking process.
Beef and Broccoli
- 1 lb broccoli cut into 2" pieces
- 5 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger chopped
- Slice your beef into 1/4" strips against the grain for maximum tenderness.
- Marinate beef strips with baking soda, oyster sauce, salt, oil, and cornstarch. Set aside for 15 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix together your sauce by combining light soy, dark soy, oyster sauce, sugar, white pepper, sesame oil, msg, shaoxing wine, chicken stock, and cornstarch. This will be your sauce. Set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to boil and blanch your broccoli 30 seconds; drain and set aside.
- Add about 4 tbsp of neutral oil to a hot pan. Sear marinated beef strips over high heat for 2-3 minutes until nicely browned. Remove and set aside.
- In the same pan and oil, fry ginger and and garlic for 15 seconds. Add back your broccoli and stir fry for 30 seconds.
- Add back the beef followed by the premixed sauce and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly and coated the beef and broccoli.
- Garnish with sesame seeds. Serve with freshly steamed white rice and enjoy!