This Chinese Beef Curry is a quick, easy, and downright delicious recipe that will have you ditching the takeout menus for good.
You won't need any fancy, hard-to-find ingredients for this one. Just a few pantry staples and a clever little trick that will leave your beef so tender it practically melts in your mouth. Just like the takeaway beef!
It's ready in under 30 minutes, making it the perfect weeknight dinner option when you're short on time but craving big flavors. Plus, it's super versatile – you can easily add your favorite veggies. Serve it with rice or noodles for a dinner the family will love.
These notes are here to help make this recipe a success; they cover some but not all ingredients. For a complete ingredient list, check out the recipe card below.
Beef: Choose flank steak or skirt steak for a great value cut. Rump steak, sizzle steaks, or round steaks are also good choices. And those packets of stir-fry strips will work.
Baking soda: Also known as bicarb of soda, bicarbonate of soda, and sodium bicarbonate, this is sprinkled over the beef to tenderize it. But don't get it muddled with baking powder; that doesn't work here!
Onion: Just a standard brown onion, but you can use a red, yellow, or white onion.
Red Bell Pepper: Feel free to substitute any color or use a mixture.
Beef broth: I like to use low sodium broth/stock as this dish has other salty ingredients. You can use chicken or vegetable broth/stock instead.
Chinese cooking wine: Also known as Chinese Rice Wine, Shaohsing Rice Cooking Wine, Shaoxing Wine, Salted Cooking Wine, or Shaoxing Cooking Wine. You can find it in most grocery stores in the Asian section, on Amazon, or at your local Asian grocery store (this is where it will be the cheapest). Use dry sherry or sake if you can't find Chinese Cooking Wine.
Curry powder: Use whatever brand you prefer. And go for mild, medium, or hot to suit your family's taste.
Chinese 5-spice: A wonderful blend that adds warmth to the curry; you only need a little as it is quite powerful. You can leave it out if you don't have any.
White pepper: White pepper is traditional, but you can use black pepper if that is what you have.
We've tested this recipe at least 3 times to ensure it works well for you. Have a look at our tips for getting the best dish you can!
- When slicing the beef, cut it across the grain (see pictures below), making it even more tender.
- Baking soda tenderizes meat amazingly well but tastes terrible, so make sure you rinse it well several times. Pat it dry with paper towel or a clean tea towel before adding it to your pan.
- When making the sauce, use cold broth/stock. This means the cornstarch/cornflour will mix without any lumps.
- Have all the veg chopped and ready before you start cooking as it doesn't take long to cook, so having everything ready will ensure nothing gets overcooked.
- Before adding the sauce to the pan, give it a good stir to remix in the cornstarch/cornflour.
- You don't need a wok to make this dish; a large, heavy-based skillet will work better with an electric cooktop.
Why You'll Love This Chinese Beef Curry
These are all just suggestions and things that have worked in our test kitchen, but it is your dinner, so adapt it to suit your family. That is the beauty of cooking; we can all create our own delicious meals.
- Add extra veg: You can add beanshoots, peas, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, Asian greens, or sugar snap peas to this recipe. Blanch the harder vegetables in boiling water for 2-3 minutes before adding them to the stir-fry with the onion. Softer veg can be added straight to the stir-fry before adding the sauce.
- Swap the protein: You can replace the beef with the same quantity of chicken breast, pork fillet, or a mixture of all three. Use baking soda to tenderize them in the same way. The chicken will need a couple of extra minutes of cooking to ensure it isn't raw in the middle. Otherwise, follow the instructions below in the same way.
- Make it spicy: You can use hot curry powder to give you a spicy Chinese beef curry or add some chopped red or green chilies.
Chinese Beef Curry Wine Pairings
The perfect pairing for most Chinese dishes is an off-dry Riesling, a Gewürztraminer, or a Vinho Verde. They all balance the salty flavors of Chinese takeout or at-home fakeout. Lambrusco would also be a great choice.
If you love red wine, go for something fruity with low tannins like a Gamay, Beaujolais, or Grenache.
If you make this Chinese Beef Curry, please come back and comment. You can also tag me on social media.
Any questions about the recipe? Use the comments section below.
Get the Recipe
Chinese Beef Curry
For the stir fry
- 1 lb beef (see note 1)
- 1½ tablespoons baking soda (see note 2)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 onion peeled and sliced
- 1 carrot peeled and sliced
- 1 red bell pepper sliced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
For the sauce
- 2 cups beef broth low sodium (see note 3)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch/cornflour
- 2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine (see note 4)
- 1½ tablespoons curry powder (see note 5)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- pinch Chinese 5-spice (see note 6)
- pinch white pepper (see note 7)
Start with tenderizing the beef.
- Cut the beef into thin strips across the grain.1 lb beef
- Place in a non-metallic bowl and sprinkle with the baking soda. Stir gently to coat all of the beef. Then cover and let the beef marinate for 15 minutes.1½ tablespoons baking soda
- Wash off the baking soda and rinse the beef several times. (See note 8)
- Pat the beef dry with kitchen paper and set it to one side.
Next, make the sauce.
- Add all the sauce ingredients into a large measuring cup/jug and stir well. Ensure the broth is cold to stop the cornstarch from clumping.2 cups beef broth2 tablespoons cornstarch/cornflour2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine1½ tablespoons curry powder1 teaspoon soy sauce½ teaspoon sugar½ teaspoon turmericpinch Chinese 5-spicepinch white pepper
For the stir fry
- Pour the oil into a heavy-based frying pan or wok and place over high heat.2 tablespoons oil
- Add the sliced onions to the oil and stir-fry them over high heat for 2 minutes.1 onion
- Add the sliced carrots and bell pepper, then stir fry them over high heat for 2 minutes.1 carrot1 red bell pepper
- Add the beef to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the salt and stir.½ teaspoon salt
- Add the garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds.2 cloves garlic
- Give the prepared sauce another stir, then pour it into the pan. The sauce will thicken quickly, so stir it to coat your stir fry.
- Serve immediately.
- Choose flank steak or skirt steak for a great value cut. Rump steak, sizzle steaks, or round steaks are also good choices. And those packets of stir-fry strips will work.
- Baking Soda is also called Bicarb, Bicarbonate of Soda, and Sodium Bicarbonate.
- I like to use low sodium broth/stock as this dish has other salty ingredients. You can use chicken or vegetable broth/stock instead. When making the sauce, use cold broth/stock. This means the cornstarch/cornflour will mix without any lumps.
- Chinese Cooking Wine/Chinese Rice Wine – not to be mistaken for rice wine vinegar!!! You can sub in dry sherry if you like.
- Use whatever brand you prefer. And go for mild, medium, or hot to suit your family's taste.
- Chinese 5-spice is a blend that adds warmth to the curry; you can leave it out if you don't have any.
- White pepper is traditional, but you can use black pepper if that is what you have.
- Ensure you wash the beef well to remove any traces of baking soda. It is fantastic at tenderizing meat but tastes terrible, so you want to remove it.
Nutrition is per serving