This classic takeout favorite is so quick and easy to make at home you’ll forget where you put the takeaway menu. Tender flank steak with crisp broccoli in a savory Chinese brown sauce with garlic and ginger, all made in well under 30 minutes. Plus I share my secret for getting the best and most tender beef at home.
If beef and broccoli is your favourite PF Changs or Panda express order then this quick stir fry is going to be your new favorite simple dinner.
Chinese has to be my favorite takeout! When I was a student I loved the Chinese buffet restaurants, but with limited funds I had to find alternatives. Whilst I was working nights as the room service waitress in a local hotel I was taught by the Chinese night cook how to make some of my favorite takeout foods at home. He had some great tips and I want to pass them all onto you! Firstly did you know that most of the takeout dishes we love aren’t even true chinese dishes, they have been westernised to suit our palates and make heating up leftovers easier!!! Which leads us onto one of the most asked questions about cooking takeout style food at home.
Do you need a wok to make Beef and Broccoli?
The short answer is no, in fact I recommend using a large heavy based fry pan or skillet instead.
This is because standard kitchen stove tops cannot get as hot as the commercial kitchens our favourite takeaway has. So getting your chosen cooking pot as hot as they do in restaurants and takeaways is impossible. But we want to do everything we can to get as much heat into our stir fry as possible. So a flat bottomed fry pan/skillet will have the maximum amount of pan touching the burner and give you the best chance of a high heat.
I have a wok burner in the centre of my stove top, and that allows my wok to sit down into the flame. If you have something similar then that will work well too. But if you have a standard gas stove top or an electric burner then a fry pan could well be your best bet.
But do you get the authentic flavor using a skillet?
There are some dishes where a wok will give you a more authentic flavor, but these tend to be drier more traditional Chinese and Cantonese dishes. The saucy dishes that we are used to in takeout and chinese restaurants throughout the US and UK, are not as authentic, in fact you will struggle to find beef and broccoli on any menu in China! So cooking them in a skillet won’t result in any loss of flavor.
What cut of beef is best for Chinese beef and broccoli?
I love to use flank steak or skirt steak in stir-frys. If prepared correctly the meat is so tender and just melts in your mouth. Check out my tips below for the most tender beef you have ever eaten!
You can use a rump steak, sirloin steak or even fillet. They will be delicious, but flank steak and skirt steak represent great value for money and can be so delicious and are easy to tenderize.
How to tenderize beef strips for stir fry
I have two tricks for making the meat super tender!
- How you cut it
- How you soften it before cooking
Number 1 – 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 allows the meat to just fall apart in your mouth.
If you cut with the grain you will end up with tougher strips of beef.
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, and we want to cut across that, as shown in the second photo.
Number 2 – The key to softening and tenderizing the meat before you cook it is so simple. This is a trick I learnt back in my waitressing days.
If you sprinkle meat with Baking Soda (also called Bicarb, Bicarbonate of Soda and Sodium Bicarbonate) it will break down the fibres and become so tender.
To do this you sprinkle just a small amount of baking soda over the meat and then stir to coat.
Then let the meat sit for 15 minutes before washing really well to remove the baking soda.
The meat will change color and will be so tender!
Pat it dry before you fry it to ensure it gets nice and crisp and doesn’t sweat as you cook it.
How do you make that savory sauce taste like a takeout?
The key is to use authentic ingredients.
To make these beef and broccoli I use these Asian ingredients:
- Oyster Sauce – available in grocery stores (Lee Kum Kee Panda brand is my favorite)
- Chinese Cooking Wine/Chinese Rice Wine – not to mistaken for rice wine vinegar!!! You can sub in dry sherry if you like.
- Sesame oil – easy to find in grocery stores now.
- Hoisin Sauce – available in grocery stores (Lee Kum Kee Panda brand is my favorite)
Look at the glossy gorgeous sauce on the takeout style Chinese Beef and Broccoli. It is packed with flavor thanks to those authentic ingredients and it really does taste just like your favorite takeout!
Tips for making the best takeout style beef and broccoli
- Preparing the beef correctly (see above for detailed pictures)
- Prepare your broccoli, garlic and ginger before you start cooking. Chinese stir frying is quick cooking so you need everything prepped and ready.
- Don’t let the broccoli or the beef cook for too long, you want everything to be crisp and just cooked.
- For the best heat use a flat bottom skillet (see above for why)
- For a truely authentic flavor invest in the ingredients and sauces. It will make ALL the difference.
Why not pin this recipe for Takeout Style Chinese Beef and Broccoli Pin it here.
Takeout Style Chinese Beef and Broccoli
- 1 lb flank steak/skirt steak
- 1 tbsp baking soda - see note 1
- 1 lb broccoli florets
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 garlic cloves - peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp grated ginger
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 tsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup oyster sauce
- 4 tbsp light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine - see note 2
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
You can change the measurement from US to metric using the toggle below
To Tenderise the Beef
Slice beef the beef across the grain, into 1/4" / 0.5cm thick strips (see bulk of post for detailed pictures) and place in a non-metallic bowl.
- Sprinkle with the baking soda and gently mix so all the beef is coated.
- Set the beef aside for 15 minutes.
Rinse the beef extremely well and then pat it dry with kitchen paper. (See note 3)
Whilst the beef is tenderizing cook the broccoli.
- Place a large nonstick skillet over a medium high heat, add in the broccoli and a 1/4 cup of boiling water.
- Cover the and allow the broccoli to steam for a minute. The water should all have evaporated. Transfer broccoli to a plate.
To make the stir fry
- Mix the water and cornstarch together in a small jug and then add the oyster sauce, sugar, cooking wine, sesame oil, hoisin sauce and black pepper.
- Place the skillet back over a high heat and heat for at least 1 minute. Add in the oil and once it is shimmering add the beef in a single layer.
- Cook, without touching for 1 minute then stir in the thinly sliced garlic and grated ginger.
- Immediately give the sauce a good stir and add it the pan.
- Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute to allow the sauce to thicken.
- Add the broccoli to the skillet and stir to coat in the sauce.
- Serve immediately sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.
- Baking Soda is also called Bicarb, Bicarbonate of Soda and Sodium Bicarbonate.
- Chinese Cooking Wine/Chinese Rice Wine - not to mistaken for rice wine vinegar!!! You can sub in dry sherry if you like.
- Make sure you wash the beef really well to remove any traces of baking soda. It is amazing at tenderizing meat, but has a terrible taste so you want to remove it.
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