If you’ve ever tried making authentic American-Chinese food at home, you know it’s no easy task. This recipe for Beef and Broccoli is just about as close as you can get.
Over the last few years, I’ve developed a recipe for roasted veggies that I find extremely delicious. It’s a pretty simple mix of broccoli, cauliflower, and occasionally extras like mushrooms, carrots, green beans, or asparagus, tossed in Italian spices, olive oil, lemon balsamic vinegar, and a bit of seasoned salt. It’s great, but after eating it several times a week for years, I started looking for something else to use up some of this broccoli.
One thing that many of you probably sympathize with is food cravings. Sometimes, I just really want a burger, or some Mexican, or some sushi. It’s fine, it happens! One such craving is for Chinese food, but it’s tricky. Do I get the lo mein? Do I get fried rice? Do I opt for chicken of some kind?
I love beef and broccoli, but I find that it’s rarely what I actually order. Since we don’t eat out much (maybe three times a month, normally) I don’t have many opportunities to get it. So, I thought, why not try to make some on my own?
The key to making a good beef and broccoli is two specific components. One is the beef. You have to get a tender-yet-lean cut of beef, cut it properly, and cook it right. Flank steak is perfect for this. You want to cut it against the grain when you can; it makes the resulting pieces more tender and less chewy. I, uh, didn’t do that for mine, but you should! Trust me!
The second key to success is the sauce. With the right sauce, you can add anything you want to this recipe and have it come out great. Some people just to beef and broccoli. I added carrots. You can add bamboo shoots, snap peas, whatever you like. Fix it up the way your favorite Chinese place does, or make it your own.
What makes the sauce good? A few things.
- Fresh ginger. The powdered stuff just doesn’t taste the same, you gotta get a fresh root and grate it yourself.
- Corn starch. I hate this stuff (see my rant here), but it’s undeniably perfect for thickening up a sauce and making it cling to your meat and veg.
- Sesame oil. One of the strongest-flavored oils out there (in my opinion), this is an absolute must if you want that familiar Chinese-food taste.
- MSG. That’s right, good old monosodium glutamate.
If you’re scared of MSG, don’t be. I know, years ago it was this big thing in diet advice, avoid MSG! It’ll kill you! It’s a deadly neurotoxin! It causes migraines!
The truth is, there’s no real science saying that MSG is bad for you. At least, no more than any other salt. It’s a sodium salt of an amino acid, there’s nothing tricky going on with it. All the fear goes back to a study from 1969, where they injected a megadose of MSG into mice and observed neurological damage it caused. To which I respond: yeah, of course! If you were to take half a cup of MSG and inject it into your bloodstream, it wouldn’t do good things to your body!
For culinary uses, MSG is fine. For one thing, it doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier. For another, you don’t use megadoses of it in cooking. And really, if it was that dangerous, could you really expect to just buy a jar of it from the grocery store? You don’t use much in a recipe like this, and, just like salt, it serves to enhance the flavors you taste. Seriously; try some with and without, you’ll taste the difference. Pick up some Accent, use it judiciously, and you’ll be fine. I promise.
Once you have the ingredients list, you’re essentially there. Cooking the broccoli and cooking the beef are easy, and you just mix everything together. Here’s the full recipe, let me know what you think in the comments!
Saucy Beef and Broccoli
- Large Skillet with Lid
- Sharp Knife
- Cutting Board
- Rubber Spatula
- 1 Tsp Fresh Ginger Grated
- 1 Tbsp Grated Garlic 4-5 Cloves
- ¾ Cup Hot Water
- 7 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 3 Tbsp Brown Sugar Light works best
- 2 Tbsp Corn Starch
- ½ Tsp Pepper White or Black both work
- 3 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- ¼ Tsp MSG
Beef and Broccoli
- 1½ Lb. Beef Flank steak is ideal
- 6 Cup Broccoli
- 1 Cup Carrots Thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil Divided
- 2 Tbsp Water
- Chop your veggies. I like larger pieces of broccoli, but you can chop them as small as you like.
- Cut your beef into thin, bite-sized slices. Cut against the grain for the tenderest bites.
Make the Sauce
- In a bowl, add the ginger, garlic, water, soy sauce, brown sugar, corn starch, pepper, sesame oil, and MSG. Mix well and set aside.
Cook the Veg and Meat
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in the skillet on medium-high heat.
- Add the broccoli, carrots, and whatever other veg you want. Mix well to coat in oil.
- Carefully add two tbsp of water. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. Your broccoli should look bright green and still mostly crisp. Remove and set aside.
- Heat another tbsp of oil in the skillet.
- Add the meat in a single layer. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, then flip, cooking for another 1-2 minutes or until done. Time varies by how thick your meat is.
- Stir the sauce to make sure it's combined, then add it to the meat. Stir to coat and heat until it thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the veg and mix well to coat.
- Serve and enjoy! I liked it over top of white rice, but friend rice or lo mein would also work.