This black pepper beef stir fry is absolutely packed with zingy, zesty flavor. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth strips of beef, perfectly crunchy veggies, and a delectable black pepper sauce all served over a bed of rice. Beautiful! It’s enough to get your mouth watering already.
What is Black Pepper Beef?
Also known as Chinese pepper steak, black pepper beef is a globally popular Chinese dish. It’s commonly found in Chinese restaurants and takeout places, and is renowned for the savory taste and buttery texture of the beef strips. It’s believed that this dish traces its origins to the Chinese province of Fujian, and came to the USA with the waves of Chinese immigration in the mid-20th century.
If you’re feeling like something with a big, bold, up-front flavor and plenty of awesome color and vibrant texture, this is the perfect dish for you. It’s easy to prepare, full of flavor, and you can dictate the intensity of the black pepper sauce to your liking. Some restaurants make their sauce more “peppery” than others, but you can make up your own mind based on your own preferences.
What Do I Need to Make Black Pepper Beef?
You could be forgiven for thinking this complex flavor palate demands a variety of exotic ingredients. Fortunately, you can make black pepper beef using a medley of simple kitchen staples. You’ll need:
- Stir fry beef. Purchase either pre-sliced beef strips from the grocer, or get a cut of beef that you like and slice it up to your own preference. The choice is yours. We recommend flank steak, skirt steak, sirloin, or tenderloin, sliced thinly against the grain. If you can’t find any of these cuts, any fine-grained cut of beef with some fat will do nicely. You don’t want to use overly lean beef as that could dry out and become stringy.
- To tenderize and marinate the beef, you’ll want to use low-sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and cornstarch.
- Your aromatics for this recipe are garlic, ginger, and green onion.
- For the crisp, classic Chinese stir fry crunch, we’re using onion and bell pepper. We love a mix of red and green bell peppers, not only for the variety of flavors, but for the burst of color they add to the stir fry. You can add other vegetables like shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, or snow peas, too. Anything with a bit of snap and crunch is great for a recipe like this.
- For your black pepper sauce, you’ll need soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, corn starch and, of course, freshly ground black pepper.
These are all the ingredients you’ll need! You can serve this dish on a bed of rice. This dish somehow tastes even better when served fresh out of the oven in the comfort of your own home.
Black Pepper Sauce Ingredients
Tips and Tricks
It’s very simple to prepare this dish, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring some finesse to proceedings. Here are our favorite tips and tricks for taking your black pepper beef to the next level.
- Tenderize your beef. You can take the extra step of “velveting” the beef with baking soda before marinating. This simple tenderizing process is a great way to soften up your beef, and is how many restaurants ensure they always serve soft, succulent strips of beef. If you love the tender texture of beef at your favorite Chinese restaurant, try taking this extra step. All you need to do is mix a teaspoon of bakind soda in with the beef, and leave it for fifteen minutes. After the time has elapsed, rinse the beef under cold water, pat it dry, and get started with your marinade.
- Marinating beef will give it some extra oomph and flavor, and make it even more tender. The layer of cornstarch will help lock in the natural juices within the cut of meat, protecting it from the heat of the wok. You end up with a more flavorful piece of meat that has a more attractive color, and a glossy sauce for coating your stir fry.
- Chinese cooking with a wok is a high-heat low-time affair. Always prepare your ingredients in advance. Stir fry dishes are supposed to be fast and seamless because overcooking is a very real risk when using a wok. If you’ve been to Asia and seen street food vendors, they always have an array of ingredients ready to cook. This extra step makes your cooking process so much easier.
- We strongly encourage you to use freshly ground pepper if you can. You can still do this recipe with pre-ground pepper, but the freshly ground stuff tastes so much better. It also has a fresh, distinct aroma that will help turn your dish into a deliciously fragrant main meal.
What To Serve With Black Pepper Beef
Usually, you’ll find black pepper beef served over a bed of Steamed Jasmine Rice at most restaurants. You can use ordinary steamed rice, sticky rice, or even Mushroom Fried Rice if that’s what you like. Some Chinese places will also serve black pepper beef with simple egg or rice noodles, as the black pepper sauce will coat the noodles and give them plenty of zest and flavor.
Because this is a very saucy meal, you’re best to serve it with rice or noodles to soak up any excess sauce. You don’t want your delicious black pepper sauce going to waste, do you?
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