This Takeout Style Chinese Beef and Mushroom Stir Fry is so quick and easy to make at home and tastes better than takeout.
Tender flank steak is cooked with sliced mushrooms in a rich and delicious savory Chinese brown sauce. All made in well under 30 minutes. This is a healthy and delicious way to enjoy homemade takeout. Plus, I share my secret to getting the best and most tender beef at home.
If Chinese Beef and Mushroom is your favorite PF Changs or Panda express order, then this stir fry is going to be your new favorite simple dinner.
Takeout Style Chinese Beef and Mushrooms at home
Making takeout style dishes at home is far simpler than many people think. I have quite a few on my site, and they all follow the same process.
- Tenderize the meat and cut correctly.
- Use authentic but easy to find ingredients.
- Cook quickly in a suitable pan.
We'll go over all of these points below, but if you are already a fan of a Sprinkles and Sprout takeout style dish, then you may have read it all before. So feel free to use the jump menu above or the jump to recipe button over to the left (it's the purple circle with the pot on it).
Do you need a wok for Beef and Mushroom Stir Fry?
No!!!! If you don't have a wok, then you can still enjoy this dish!
Most household cooktops don't have low sunk wok burners. You find these in commercial kitchens, so the chefs can get the wok really hot. But our standard household cooktops have flat burners; this means that at home, the flat base of a frying pan is better suited for high heat cooking than the round bottom of a wok.
We want to do everything we can to get as much heat into our stir fry as possible. So a flat bottomed frying pan/skillet will have the maximum amount of pan touching the burner and give you the best chance of high heat.
You can read more about this in my Takeout Style Beef and Broccoli post.
How to make your beef tender like takeout beef?
I'm betting that when you order takeout, the beef (or chicken) is the most tender and softest meat you have ever eaten? They are not using the best and most expensive beef to get this super tender meat. They are using a cheaper cut and making it tender themselves! And it is a trick you can use at home!
The process is called velveting, and it makes the meat very soft and tender, almost like velvet.
There are a couple of ways to do this, but the easiest, and my favorite way, is to use baking soda.
Baking Soda is also called Bicarb, Bicarbonate of Soda, or Sodium Bicarbonate.
It is the white powder that you often use in baking. BUT don't get it muddled with baking powder, that won't tenderize your meat and will make everything slimy.
To tenderize your beef, you sprinkle it with baking soda, stir to coat and then let it sit for 15 minutes. Then really rinse the beef well under cold running water. You want to remove every trace of baking soda.
After that, pat the beef dry, and you are ready to start stir-frying. You can read more about the science of tenderizing meat with baking soda in my post for Takeout Style Chicken and Snow Pea.
What cut of beef is best for Chinese beef and mushrooms?
I love to use flank steak or skirt steak in stir-frys. Flank steak and skirt steak represent excellent value for money and can be so delicious, and if prepared correctly, the meat is so tender and just melts in your mouth.
We talked above about velveting the beef for super tender meat, but how you cut the beef can also change the texture.
The trick to cutting flank steak/skirt steak (in fact, ANY steak) is to find the way the grain of the meat runs and then cut across the grain. This smart cutting technique allows the meat to just fall apart in your mouth.
Check out the picture below for an easy visual, see how in the first picture you can see the lines in the meat - this is the grain. We want to cut across that, as shown in the second photo.
How to get the authentic takeout taste
If you have ever made a stir fry at home and been disappointed with the flavor, the chances are that the recipe you followed was missing a couple of authentic ingredients that can change your stir fry from meh to marvelous.
For this Beef and Mushroom dish, you will need two important authentic ingredients. These will add something special to the sauce and make you want to lick the bowl!
But don't worry, these ingredients are easy to find in the Asian section of your grocery stores, plus they are readily available online.
Oyster sauce – a thick, rich brown sauce that adds so much depth and a good hit of Chinese saltiness. You can buy it in grocery stores across the world now. (Lee Kum Kee Panda brand is my favorite)
Chinese Cooking Wine – also known as Chinese Rice Wine, Shaohsing Rice Cooking Wine, Shaoxing wine or Shaoxing Cooking Wine. You can find this in most grocery stores in the Asian section. Just don't get it confused with rice wine vinegar!!! If you can't find Chinese Cooking Wine, just use dry sherry or sake if you have it.
Top tips for making Chinese Beef and Mushroom
- Tenderize the beef in baking soda (see above for detailed pictures)
- Prepare your vegetables before you start cooking. Chinese stir-frying is fast cooking, so you need everything prepped before you start.
- For an authentic takeout flavor, buy two great Chinese ingredients (you can find them in the grocery store or online). They will make ALL the difference to the taste of the finished dish.
- Use cold stock in your sauce to ensure you don't get lumps when mixing in the cornstarch/cornflour.
- Mix the sauce ingredients together in a measuring cup before you start cooking. But remember to whisk it well before you add it to the pan.
- For the best heat use a flat bottom frying pan/skillet (see above for why a wok isn't always the best option)
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Takeout Style Chinese Beef and Mushroom Recipe
For the stir fry
- 1 lb flank steak/skirt steak
- 1 ½ tablespoon bicarb of soda – see note 1
- 2½ cups sliced mushrooms
- 2 clove garlic - thinly sliced
- 2 green onions – see note 2
- 2 tablespoon oil
For the sauce
- ¾ cup cold beef stock/broth – see note 3
- 2 ½ tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine – see note 4
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon pepper – white is traditional
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Start with tenderizing the beef
- Cut 1lb of flank steak into thin strips across the grain. (see bulk of post for pictures)
- Place in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 ½ tablespoon of baking soda, stir gently to coat all of the beef. Then cover and let the beef marinate for 15 minutes.
- Wash off the baking soda and rinse the beef several times. (See note 5)
- Pat the beef dry with kitchen paper and set to one side.
Next, make the sauce.
- Add all the sauce ingredients into a large measuring cup/jug and stir well. Ensure the beef broth is cold to stop the cornstarch from clumping.
For the stir fry
- Pour the oil into a heavy-based frying pan and place over high heat.
- While the oil is heating up, remove the roots from the green onions and chop them into 2-inch (5cm) length chunks.
- Add the green onions to the oil (be careful it can spit) and stir fry them for 1 minute to flavor the oil.
- Add the beef to the pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add in the chopped mushrooms and stir fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the sliced garlic and continuously stir for a minute.
- Give the prepared sauce a good stir and then pour it into the pan. The sauce will thicken quickly, so stir it to coat your stir fry and cook for 1 minute to heat through. (see note 6).
- Serve immediately.
- Baking soda is also known as bicarb of soda, bicarbonate of soda, and sodium bicarbonate. Don't get it muddled with baking powder that won't tenderize your meat.
- Green onions are also known as scallions in the US. And are known as Spring Onions in the UK and Australia.
- Make sure the broth is cold, this will ensure that the cornstarch/cornflour dissolves fully and doesn't clump together.
- You can buy Chinese cooking wine in the Asian section of the grocery store, but if you can't find it, then you can use dry sherry. (See bulk of post for more information on Chinese Cooking Wine)
- Make sure you wash the beef really well to remove any traces of baking soda. It is incredible at tenderizing meat but has a terrible taste, so you want to remove it.
- The sauce thickens quickly to that real thick Chinese takeout style sauce. If you aren't a fan of the thick coating takeaway style sauces, then you can reduce the quantity of cornstarch to 1 ½ tablespoon if you just want a thinner sauce.