Get Your Stir-Fry On

This wonderfully fragrant and spicy dish of Stir-Fried Chili Beef with Peppers gets its deep, nuanced flavor from Asian hot bean sauce, which contains soybeans in addition to chiles. It’s a rich, complex flavor worth seeking out, but if you can’t find it in an Asian market or your supermarket, you can use chili garlic sauce or Sriracha instead.

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As with many recipes from one of our favorite Asian chef-authors, Grace Young, make sure you prep everything ahead of time because you won’t have the luxury to do so once you start the stir-frying process. The actual total cooking time is only about five minutes.

For both additional color and health reasons, I increased the portions for the snow peas and bell pepper strips. Chili bean sauce (Toban Djan), made from a special blend of chilies and fermented beans was already a staple in our fridge, and it adds a bit of spice to the dish, but not overwhelmingly so. We served the stir-fry over some fluffy jasmine rice, but it could stand alone on its own too.

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Ingredients

  • 12 oz. flank steak
  • 3 Tbs. Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. plus 2 Tbs. peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbs. hot bean sauce (also called chili bean sauce), chili garlic sauce, or Sriracha
  • 2 Tbs. hoisin sauce (preferably Koon Chun)
  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic (from 3 medium cloves)
  • 6 oz. snow peas, strings removed (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2 x 2-inch strips
  • 8 medium scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (about 1 cup)

Directions

  1. Cut the beef with the grain into 2-inch-wide strips, and then cut each strip across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer to a medium bowl.
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  2. Add 1 Tbs. of the rice wine, the ginger, soy sauce, cornstarch, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper to the beef. Stir until the cornstarch is no longer visible. Add 1 tsp. of the oil and stir until the beef is lightly coated.
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  3. In a small bowl, stir the hot bean sauce, hoisin sauce, and the remaining 2 Tbs. rice wine. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottom wok (preferably seasoned carbon steel) over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact.
  4. Add 1 Tbs. of the remaining oil, swirl to coat, add the garlic, and stir-fry with a metal wok spatula until fragrant and light golden, about 10 seconds. Push the garlic to the sides of the wok and carefully add the beef, spreading it evenly over the bottom and sides of the wok in a single layer.
  5. Cook, undisturbed, for 1 minute, letting the beef begin to sear, then stir-fry with the garlic until the beef is lightly browned but not yet cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer the beef and garlic to a plate.
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  6. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the wok and swirl to coat. Add the snow peas, bell pepper, and scallions, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt, and stir-fry until the snow peas are bright green, about 1 minute.
  7. Return the beef with any accumulated juice to the wok. Add the hot bean sauce mixture by swirling it down and around the sides of the wok; if you pour the sauce directly into the center of the pan, the temperature of the wok will drop.
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  8. Stir-fry until the beef is just cooked through and the vegetables are crisp-tender, 30 seconds to 1 minute more. Serve immediately.

By Grace Young

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