Glug of Oil: Beef and Green

Chinese Stir Fry sauce recipe for Beef

Beef with Broccoli and An All Purpose Stir-fry Sauce, by thewoksoflife.comWhen my parents owned a Chinese takeout restaurant years ago, I had to crank out beef and broccoli orders every single day, along with dishes like Chicken and snow peas in “brown sauce, ” and “Happy Family” specials. Naturally, when hungry walk-ins are expecting their orders in ten minutes or less, it’s always good to have an arsenal of shortcuts to make the process easier. One such shortcut was having an all-purpose stir fry sauce on hand to use as a base for many dishes including the popular beef with broccoli.

Why not try the same method at home?

Picture this. It’s the middle of the week and you’ve just gotten home from a long day at work. The kids are hungry and dinner is nowhere near existence yet. All you have to do is start the rice cooker, slice some beef, and cut up a bunch of broccoli. You can check on the kids to make sure they’re doing their homework or maybe send out some urgent emails. Spend just ten minutes in front of the stove, and you have a stress-free dinner and the rest of the evening to yourself.

You could order takeout, but preparing the dish yourself ensures you know the quality of the ingredients while saving a few bucks in the process. Make a batch of stir-fry sauce and keep it in a jar in the fridge for use throughout the week. Just shake well, and pour however much you need into the pan!

Beef with Broccoli and An All Purpose Stir-fry Sauce, by thewoksoflife.comIf you happen not to like soy sauce or want a gluten-free version, use our Chicken and Broccoli recipe and substitute beef in place of chicken or just go with garlicky broccoli for a side dish or if you’re vegetarian.

Here’s what you need:

For the stir-fry sauce (makes 3 cups for 3-4 dishes):

For the Beef with Broccoli:

  • 12 oz. flank steak, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3/4 cup all purpose stir-fry sauce, plus 2 tablespoons (divided)
  • 3 tablespoons oil, plus 1 teaspoon (divided)
  • 4-5 cups broccoli florets

Start by making your stir-fry sauce. In a jar with a tight lid, combine the water, cornstarch, and sugar. Cover the jar and shake it so that everything is dissolved together. Then add the rest of the sauce ingredients and shake well. We used small 8 oz. bottles, which worked really well as single use servings! This sauce should keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator.

When you’re planning to cook something with the sauce, try to have it at room temperature. Pouring cold sauce into a hot wok is not a good thing! Combine your sliced beef with 2 tablespoons of the stir-fry sauce and 1 teaspoon oil. Set aside while you handle the broccoli.

Boil 6 cups of water and blanch your broccoli for about a minute. You could also steam it if you like. Drain.

Next heat your wok over high heat until smoking. Add 2 tablespoons oil and sear the beef until browned (this should only take a couple minutes). Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan along with the garlic and ginger. Toss in your broccoli and give it a quick stir. Shake up your stir-fry sauce so it is mixed well (you want to make sure all the cornstarch is dissolved) and add about 3/4 cup. You can use more if you like more sauce with your rice. Add the beef back to the pan and stir-fry everything together over high heat until the sauce thickens and coats all the meat and vegetables.

Serve over rice, and you’ll have a happy family indeed! Feel free to make adjustments to the amount of cornstarch you use depending upon how thick or thin you like the sauce.

You can use this stir-fry sauce for a variety of dishes. Just change up what meat and vegetables you want to use, and follow a similar method of cooking: 1) marinate the meat. 2) if using any “hard” vegetables like broccoli or carrots, blanch them for a minute. 3) sear the meat and set aside. 4) stir-fry the vegetables with oil and aromatics, and then add the meat back to the pan along with the sauce.

There are endless ways to use this method. Let us know your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!


  • 2½ cups water
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • ¼ teaspoon five spice powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 12 oz. flank steak, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • ¾ cup all purpose stir-fry sauce, plus 2 tablespoons (divided)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or add according to your own taste

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