Stir fried Beef and Broccoli is a favorite Chinese dish all over the western world, but in China, everyone prefers Chinese broccoli, known as jie lan (Mandarin) or gai lan (Cantonese). This is no surprise, as many Chinese vegetable dishes are made with leafy green vegetables.
Much of the time, vegetable dishes are made without any meat, but we do like our beef. If you’re on board with that, then this beef with Chinese broccoli recipe will definitely be up your alley!
Don’t get us wrong. We’re big fans of the more common take-out beef with broccoli version of this dish–but Chinese broccoli is a pleasant change on the dinner table.
If you like the taste of broccoli, broccoli rabe, or enjoy leafy green vegetables in general, then you will adore Chinese broccoli. When cooked properly with ample amounts of tender beef, it may just become your favorite stir-fry. (Even better than the classic beef and broccoli that everyone knows and loves.)
A few points:
- There is no pre-blanching of the Chinese broccoli required for this recipe. We usually don’t blanch our leafy greens unless, of course, we are making blanched Chinese Broccoli with oyster sauce. In my opinion, Chinese leafy greens are best eaten with a slightly crunchy texture. By cooking the greens directly in the wok, you also don’t lose any of those vitamins in a pot of boiling water.
- Fresh ginger is not just a great complement to Chinese broccoli, it is a must. You’ll see that restaurants offering beef with Chinese broccoli always include a few ginger slices.
- Another important point is the sauce amount. Sarah likes extra sauce, Kaitlin is indifferent to the sauce debate, and Judy and I like less sauce. So we compromise. When it’s just Judy and me, we omit the chicken stock and use less cornstarch slurry to finish the dish. When Sarah is around, we cook this Chinese beef with broccoli with the chicken stock (or beef stock) and have more gravy to pour over the rice. It’s how we keep the peace.
- If you can’t find Chinese broccoli, you can always substitute broccolini, which can be found in many grocery stores these days (broccolini is actually a cross between Chinese broccoli and regular old broccoli).
Now that you’ve been briefed, here’s how to make this dish!
Trim off any excess fat and fibrous membrane from the flank steak, and use a sharp knife to slice ¼-inch thick pieces about 2½ inches wide at a 45 degree angle. Be sure to cut the beef against the grain.
If your knife skills are not that good, place the beef into the freezer until it is firm but not frozen; slicing the beef will be much easier!
Add 1 teaspoon each of cornstarch, oil, and soy sauce to the beef in a bowl. Use your hands to massage these ingredients into the beef and set aside to marinate for 20 minutes. For more complete information on preparing beef, see Bill’s post on How to Slice and Velvet Beef for stir fries.
After the beef has marinated, heat a wok over high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil. When the oil starts to smoke, sear the beef for 30-60 seconds, just until browned. Remove from the wok and set aside.
Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the wok along with the ginger. Let the ginger caramelize for 15 seconds. Add the garlic and Chinese broccoli, and stir-fry for 1 minute, making sure the vegetables are cooking evenly. The Chinese broccoli will start turning a bright green.
Add the beef, oyster sauce, soy sauce, salt, sugar, sesame oil and hot chicken stock and stir-fry until mixed thoroughly.
(Use hot chicken stock so you don’t kill the stir-fry party going on in the wok by reducing the temperature of the ingredients. Nothing worse than adding cold chicken stock and then having to wait minutes for the liquid to get back to a boiling, sizzling state.)
If you’re using beef stock for this beef with Chinese broccoli, make sure it is a plain beef stock without any western spices, or cooked with carrots, celery or onions or the flavor of your final dish will be off and will not taste authentic.
Once the liquid comes to a boil, push the beef and vegetables away from the middle of the wok and stir in the cornstarch slurry gradually to thicken the sauce. Use only what you need! Mix everything until the beef and Chinese broccoli are thoroughly coated. For more tips on thickening stir fry sauces, see our post on How to use corn starch in Chinese cooking.
If you like more sauce, you can increase the chicken or beef stock, seasonings and cornstarch accordingly.
Plate and serve your beef with Chinese broccoli over hot steamed rice.