Black Pepper Beef
Aug 29, 2023
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Black Pepper Beef is a common dish you can find in my Chinese restaurants. The beef is wonderfully tender paired with crisp onions and bell peppers in a savory black pepper sauce. It’s one of my favorites and a quick and easy dish to whip up during the week!
If you’re a fan of Black Pepper Beef, you’ll never need to order takeout again after trying this recipe!
Watch the Black Pepper Beef Recipe Video Below!
Ingredients for Black Pepper Beef
This Black Pepper Beef recipe is such a winner and perfect for a weeknight meal with a freshly steamed bowl of rice! Here is what you’ll need for the recipe:
- Sliced Beef (I prefer flank steak or ribeye)
- Light Soy Sauce (low sodium recommended)
- Baking Soda
- Sesame Oil
- White Pepper
- High Quality Chicken or Beef Stock – I always recommend Kettle & Fire – use code CJPINS for 20% off your order here!
- White Onion
- Red Bell Pepper
- Oyster Sauce
- Shaoxing Wine
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.
If you cannot or do not want to use wine, you can sub with sherry, mirin, or chicken stock!
Black Pepper Beef: Recipe Instructions
Slice the steak
The first step in making this recipe is cutting the steak against the grain into 2″ pieces that are 1/4″ thick (refer to photos). Cut the steak into uniform pieces so they cook evenly when we fry them.
Next, place the sliced steak into a bowl with baking soda, light soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, cornstarch, and avocado oil. Mix well with your hands and let marinate for at least 15-20 minutes. While the steak marinates, mince garlic, slice white onion, and bell pepper.
Mix the Black Pepper Beef Sauce
Next, mix the sauce by combining beef stock (I always use Kettle & Fire – get 20% off your order when you use code CJPINS!), oyster sauce, shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, coarse black pepper, sugar, and corn starch. I always like to premix my sauce to have it ready to go during the fast cooking process.
Set Ingredients together prior to cooking
This Black Pepper Beef (as well as a lot of Chinese cooking) comes together fast in the pan! It’s important to keep all your prepped ingredients near your pan, prepped and ready to go!
Cook the steak
Heat 4 tablespoons of neutral oil (I prefer avocado oil) in a pan or wok over high heat until just smoking. Add the steak, in batches if needed, for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and remove and set the steak pieces aside.
Once the steak is cooked, remove the excess oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons, then sauté the minced garlic for 30 seconds until fragrant. Next, add the onions and bell peppers and cook for another 1-2 minutes until cooked but still crisp.
Add the sauce and thicken
Add back the cooked beef, followed by the sauce to the aromatics and vegetables and stir fry for another minute or two to let the sauce come to a boil and thicken.
Finish the Black Pepper Beef
Once the beef and sauce is added to the dish, stir fry for a final 1-2 minutes until everything is evenly coated in the sauce.
Mix together and stir fry over high heat until the sauce has become thickened and glossy like this! Now you’re ready to serve with some freshly steamed rice.
If you liked this Black Pepper Beef recipe, check out some of the most popular Chinese Take-Out recipes on the blog!
PREMIX YOUR SAUCE
The cooking process for the sauce is FAST so it’s a great idea to premix your sauce together, then add it straight into the pan! The corn starch will help thicken the sauce into that velvety texture that Chinese restaurants made so famous.
SUCCESS IS IN THE PREP
For a recipe that comes together extremely quickly, the key to pulling this recipe off successfully is having your ingredients prepped and in bowls right next to your wok or pan! Have your premixed sauce, steak, and vegetables ready and easily accessible during the cooking process.
Do not let your frying oil drop below 300F when frying! I highly recommend you use a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. If you see it dropping below 300F, fry your beef in batches. Frying at a low temperature will result in too much moisture (AKA SOGGY!)
Black Pepper Beef
Vegetables & Aromatics
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1/2 white onion, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- Slice steak against the grain into 2" pieces about 1/4" thick. Place in a bowl and add baking soda, light soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, cornstarch, and avocado oil. Mix well and marinate for 20 minutes.
- Mince garlic and slice onions and bell peppers and set them aside with the beef.
- In a small bowl, mix together oyster sauce, shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, coarse black pepper, sugar, beef stock, msg (optional), and cornstarch. Mix until the sauce is thoroughly combined.
- Heat 4 tbsp of oil in a large wok or pan over high heat and cook the beef (in batches if needed) for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove the beef and leave about 2 tbsp of oil in the pan.
- Over medium high heat, add the minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the sliced onions and bell pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes over high heat or until the vegetables are slightly softened but still crisp.
- Add the cooked beef back to the pan. Mix the sauce a final time to pick up any cornstarch, then pour the sauce along the edge of the wok or pan.
- Mix and toss the sauce and ingredients for another 1-2 minutes over high heat until the sauce has thickened. Serve with white rice and enjoy!