Tender strips of beef, which has been fried until crispy, and then tossed in a sweet, spicy sauce, is what Crispy Beijing Beef is all about! Prepared with onions and peppers, serve with sticky rice for a complete meal!
I think I might have a problem. Well, not so much a problem. It’s more like a weakness. In some respect, I guess a weakness could be a problem, right? What I’m talking about is my new obsession with crispy beef, pork, and chicken. I can’t seem to get enough of it!
Before the holidays, I was eating food like this at least once or twice a week. Remember my General Tso’s Chicken, and my Sweet Jalapeno Pork? I at so much of those two! And, then there’s my 30 Minute Ginger Beef. I could eat that every day for the rest of my life and never tire of it! Luckily, my appetite for those foods was curbed by the onslaught of biscotti and cookies. But now, Dear Reader, it’s back!
CRISPY BEIJING BEEF
This is certainly one of those dishes that comes together quite easily. It might look like there’s a lot of steps, but they’re really quite simple and fast. To be honest, if you put aside the actual cooking of the beef, it’s the prep that takes up the most time.
Crispy Beijing Beef will completely put aside any misconceptions you have about making Chinese-style takeout food at home. This dish can compete with the best of them! And, in comparison to takeout prices these days, you’ll get way more beef for your buck if you make it at home yourself.
Inspired by the same beef found on the Panda Express menu, this copycat, at-home version is so much better. I’ve only had the opportunity to eat at Panda Express a few times. The chain is not too popular here in Canada, unlike in the United States.
THE RIGHT BEEF FOR THE JOB
Anytime I use beef in a recipe such as this, I always use the cheapest cut I can find. Save your good beef for the grill. Ideally, the best beef choices for this recipe is either skirt steak or flank steak. Both of these cuts are often used interchangeably, because they are both tough cuts of beef. But, sliced thinly against the grain, they are tender and delicious.
If you can’t find skirt of flank steak, you can certainly use other cuts of beef as well. I’ve used beef tenderloin for this recipe a few times and it works perfectly. Just be sure to cut the slices against the grain. The beef will be fried until crispy on the outside, but you want it still tender on the inside. Cutting against the grain will ensure it’s still tender.
We shop at an Asian grocery store quite often. They stock thinly sliced beef that is primarily used for bulgogi or ramen dishes. It’s a little more expensive pound for pound, but it’s thinly sliced rib eye and it works very well for this recipe as well.
HERE’S SOME OF WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE CRISPY BEIJING BEEF:
- Beef – Use a cheaper cut of beef like flank or skirt steak. I never spend more than $8-10 dollars on beef for these types of fried recipes.
- Soy Sauce – Any type will do, just not dark soy sauce.
- Rice Vinegar – This type of vinegar is very popular in Asian cooking and is much less acidic than regular white vinegar. You can use white vinegar too, or substitute it with sherry or champagne vinegar.
- Oyster Sauce – Just like the name suggests, it’s made by cooking oysters in water for a long time. Obviously, there’s more to it than just that! It is both salty and sweet, and the flavour is full of umami. I use it in my vegetarian cooking sometimes. There is a vegetarian option in most grocery stores.
- Ketchup – I use just regular ketchup when cooking. Regular ketchup in our home is Heinz.
- Chili Sauce – The purpose of the chili sauce is to add heat and flavour. This recipe can be quite spicy depending on the type of chili sauce you use. If you don’t want spice, substitute it with more ketchup. If you want the beef mildly spicy, use my Sweet Heat Chili Sauce.
- Cornstarch – The cornstarch helps to get a light, crispy coating on the beef.
- Garlic – Always use fresh garlic. It has better flavour. You will need about 8 cloves for this dish, but you can certainly cut it back if you want the beef to be breath-friendly!
- Vegetables – One medium yellow onion, a large red bell pepper, and a bunch of green onions is all you need. You can use any colour pepper you have on hand.
- Vegetable Oil – Optimum frying temperature for beef is 350 degrees F. You can use vegetable lard or peanut oil as well.
GET THE PREP DONE FIRST
Can you prepare Crispy Beijing Beef ahead of time? Yes, you most certainly can! The beef can be tossed with the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and ground black pepper. Cover it tightly and refrigerate it overnight. Or you can prepare it before you leave for work in the morning.
When you’re ready to fry the beef, remember that it will take about five minutes for the oil to get hot enough. You should never drop cold meat into hot oil. Remove the beef from fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before you start to fry.
Additional prep can be done as well. Prepared your garlic, onion, red bell pepper, and green onions. Wash and chop them all. I like to store prepped veggies in individual bowls with tight-fitting lids. Remember, not all veggies are added to recipes at the same time! Keep them in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
As for the sauce, I like to dump all of the ingredients into a clean mason jar. Put a lid on and shake it until all of those ingredients are well combined. Refrigerate until needed. Be sure to shake well before pouring it over the fried beef.
HOW TO REHEAT THE LEFTOVERS
Before we get to the recipe, there’s just one more thing I have to tell you about – freezing. When I first made these types of recipes, I was the only meat-eater in our home. I would make a big batch of this beef and freeze it.
Here’s what you should do: Portion the completely cooled beef into food safe containers. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the container and place on the lid. The water is important to prevent the beef from drying out during the re-heating stage.
Allow the beef to thaw at room temperature for 2-4 hours before you plan to reheat it. To reheat, simply remove the lid and transfer the contents to a skillet. Place a lid on the skillet, and over medium heat, allow the beef to heat up. The water will steam the beef and keep it moist. The beef should be fully re-heated and ready to eat in five minutes. Please note, you will lose the crispiness, but the flavour will remain.
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Crispy Beijing Beef
For the Beef:
- 2 pounds beef (strip or flank steak)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Sauce:
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons hot chili sauce
For the Rest of the Recipe:
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 whole green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 8 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- oil (for frying)
For the Beef:
- Slice the beef into 1/8-1/4 inch strips. Place in a bowl.
- Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, and ground black pepper to the beef. Toss well to combine. Set aside.
For the Sauce:
- Add all of the sauce ingredients to a bowl and whisk together until combined. Set aside.
For the Rest of the Recipe:
- Start by laying a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Place in your oven and heat your oven to 200°F. You will fry the beef in batches. Once the beef is fried, place it on the cooling rack and keep in the warm oven while the next batch is frying. Don't pile the beef. Spread it out on the cooling rack. This will keep the beef crispy.
- Add enough oil to a heavy-bottomed pan, such as a Dutch oven, so that the oil is 3-4 inches deep. Bring the oil to 350°F. While the oil is heating, continue with the next step.
- Add the cornstarch to the beef mixture and toss well to coat. All of the beef pieces should be dusted with the cornstarch.
- Fry the beef in batches. Do not overcrowd the oil. Too much beef will cause the oil to drop in temperature. Cooler oil means greasy or soggy beef. Each batch will take about 6-7 minutes. Once the beef is browned, lift out of the oil and place on the pre-heated cooling rack. Keep in the oven while you continue to cook the beef in batches.
- Once all of the beef is cooked, place a large skillet over medium heat. Carefully spoon two tablespoons of the oil used to fry the beef into the skillet.
- Add the garlic, onion, and peppers. Stir to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in the sauce and stir into the onion and peppers. Once the sauce begins to boil (bubble) add the fried beef. Toss everything together.
- Add the sesame seeds and the green onions. Toss once more and turn off the heat.
- Serve immediately with sticky rice. Garnish with more green onions and sesame seeds if preferred.
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