Perhaps no other dish quite captures the American melting pot story like Broccoli Beef. Popularized in San Francisco in the early 1900’s, Broccoli Beef was more about Chinese restaurant owners catering to local tastes than it was recreating dishes from home. Broccoli wasn’t even available in China at the time, and it was brought to America by Italian immigrants. Moreover, beef was used very sparingly in China, since it is so expensive to produce. And yet this thoroughly Americanized dish is the number one seller in Chinese restaurants across the country.
Nostalgic Food Is The Best
My own love of Broccoli Beef started years ago at a long gone Chinese restaurant in North Miami. The dishes that always popped up on our Sunday table were shark fin soup (I know, but this was in the early 80s!), clams with black bean sauce, and beef and broccoli. Since I was a young kid, I’m sure it’s easy to see which of those three was my favorite.
It’s been decades now since I regularly had Broccoli Beef, but this recipe brought back all of those warm childhood memories. And I’d kind of forgotten how good it was! This Chinese takeout gem is easy enough to whip together on a weeknight, so I hope you’ll add it to your own meal rotation and make it part of your own family memories.
My version captures everything you love about Broccoli Beef; crisp-tender broccoli, perfectly cooked beef, and an umami packed sauce. I’ve streamlined it for home cooks and yes, it is better than takeout.
Have you ever wondered how all the proteins in Chinese restaurants have such wonderful silky flavor and soft texture? Velveting is a technique employed by the Chinese to make even the toughest cuts of meat meltingly tender. It can be time consuming though, so I’ve streamlined the technique without sacrificing the delectable results. A brief marinade with some baking soda as a tenderizer does the trick.
An Addictive Sauce
The combination of sauces that go into this dish really make it sing. The oyster sauce gives it some backbone and umami goodness, the soy sauce some saltiness, the hoisin sauce a little sweetness and depth, the shaoxing wine some flavor, white pepper for that distinctive funk, sesame oil for some toasty aroma, and finally cornstarch for thickening. Cornstarch in the sauce also contributes to the silky texture. These pantry ingredients get whisked together to create an ultra savory sauce.
Blanch the Broccoli
While the beef is marinating, it’s time to prep the broccoli. It gets briefly blanched to retain its brilliant green color. Blanching the broccoli also insures it’s cooked properly, as it will only get a quick stir fry. You don’t want mushy broccoli, but you don’t want it raw either. As a side note, almost all vegetables (with the exception of delicate greens or quick cooking veggies like bean sprouts) in Chinese recipes get a quick drop into boiling water to give veggies the perfect texture and beautiful color. Many Chinese restaurants will have a cauldron of boiling water in the middle of the woks for that purpose. Blanching is the key to perfectly crisp-tender vegetables!
Stir Fry Time!
Once the beef has marinated and the broccoli is blanched, it’s time to cook. This is a very quickly stir fried dish. Make sure your pan is hot before you put the beef down; you should immediately hear it sizzle. Leave it for a minute, and then stir fry it for another minute. It will still be very pink when you remove it to cook the onions.
It should go without saying that this needs to be served with a nice bowl of perfectly cooked rice! We love to pile it in a platter and serve family style. I know you will love how delicious this Broccoli Beef is, and how easy it is to recreate at home. So when you enjoy this classic Chinese (via America and Italy) dish, let us know! Rate the recipe and leave a comment down below, and show off your creations by tagging us in your Instagram pics @funkyasiankitchen.
Love recreating Chinese food at home?
Check out Char Sui Pork, Pork Fried Rice, Hainanese Chicken, and Vegan Mapo Tofu!
- 1 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon hoisin
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium is fine)
- 2 tablespoon shaoxing wine
- ⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 pound flank, skirt, or sirloin steak
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ tablespoons oil
- 1 head of broccoli
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
- ½ large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 Tablespoon peeled and minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Marinate the beef:
- Slice the beef into bite sized ¼ inch slices.
- Place the beef, soy sauce, sugar, baking soda, and oil into a bowl. Mix well with clean hands to coat the beef with the marinade. Keep mixing until the liquid has been absorbed and the bowl is dry.
- Let sit for 15 mins before cooking the beef.
Make the sauce:
- Combine the cornstarch, chicken stock, sugar, oyster sauce, soy sauce, shaoxing wine, hoisin sauce, and the ground white pepper.
- Whisk to combine.
- Set aside.
- Cut through the top of the broccoli, directly under the florets. Then with your knife, cut small florets from the head and set aside. Reserve the stalks for another purpose.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the broccoli. Boil for 1 minute and then drain in a colander. Cool under running water and then set aside to finish draining.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Get the pan very hot! Add 1 Tablespoon of oil, swirl it around the pan and then add the beef in one layer. Do not touch for 1 minute. Stir the beef for 1 more minute (the beef will still be pink).
- Put the beef on a plate and wipe the pan with a wet paper towel. Return the pan to medium high heat. Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of oil and add the onions. Stir fry for 2 minutes, moving the onions around constantly, and then add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 10 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the beef back to the pan and stir with the onions. Add the broccoli and mix again.
- Give the sauce a quick stir (the cornstarch tends to settle at the bottom) and then add the sauce to the pan and bring it to a simmer, stirring it into the mixture, so the sauce thickens evenly. Cook for another minute until the sauce has thickened. Add the sesame oil and stir. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer to a shallow platter.
- Serve immediately with steamed rice.
*If you know you will not be able to use the stems of the broccoli for another purpose, go ahead and use it up in this recipe. First peel the fibrous outer skin either with a knife of peeler. Then cut the stems into thick slices and blanch for 1 minute before adding the florets to the pot. Add all of the broccoli to the beef and enjoy your broccoli full meal!