In our family, I’m notoriously finicky when it comes to eating out. Maybe I’m a tiger mom when it comes to most restaurants out there, but I find that a lot of them just serve mediocre food! Dry Fried Sichuan Beef (干煸牛肉, gan bian niu rou) is a great example of that.
Too often, it’s filled with soy sauce and too sweet. Or they use the same pre-made sauce in everything. The so-called Sichuan Dry Fried Beef that results doesn’t taste anything like the original dish! Hence, I don’t usually order it because it’s never executed correctly.
What Sets Our Sichuan Beef Apart
Not surprisingly, others have run into these issues, and a reader requested that we make our version of Dry-fried Sichuan Beef. We jumped at the chance to put our spin on it. I made a few modifications to the traditional recipe, and I’m pretty pleased with the result (which is saying something given the aforementioned tiger mom status). Here’s how this recipe is different:
This Sichuan beef dish usually asks for beef tenderloin. While beef tenderloin is tender, it lacks flavor. Instead, I use flank steak, our top choice for stir-fries. It’s tender and flavorful.
- The beef is usually thinly julienned and marinated, then quickly stir-fried to keep the beef tender, but it’s not the original intent for this dish. Instead, the beef should be browned on high heat to lock in its juices and flavor. Hence, the phrase “dry-fried.”
- I cut the beef slightly thicker to avoid drying it out during the browning process. And the un-marinated beef really helps to give this dish a strong beef flavor, similar to a really good steak!
- Lastly, most restaurants don’t even bother to add Sichuan peppercorns, but it’s a signature flavor of the dish! You can adjust the amount of peppercorns to your taste / tongue-numbing preferences.
BTW, if spicy food isn’t your thing, you can omit the spicy bean sauce/paste and instead substitute regular sweet bean sauce/paste and omit the chili flakes.
Heat the wok over high heat until it starts to smoke. Add 1 tablespoon oil, and coat the wok before adding the beef. Immediately spread the beef in a single layer. (This step will prevent the beef from sticking to your wok.) Brown the beef until the liquid cooks off and the meat is well-seared. This step should take about 2-3 minutes. Remove the beef from the wok, and set aside.
Turn the heat down to low, and add 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok. Crisp the ginger…
And add the spicy bean sauce.
Cook for about a minute until the oil turns red, adjusting the heat as needed to avoid burning.
Next, add the celery, carrot, and cooked beef. Turn the heat up to high, and stir to mix well. Immediately add the Shaoxing wine, sugar, light soy sauce, sesame oil, ground Sichuan peppercorn, chili flakes (optional), and the scallions.
Stir quickly for about a minute and mix everything well.
Transfer to a dish and serve with plenty of rice! You’ll need it.