Better-Than-Takeout Beef with Broccoli

Chinese beef with broccoli

Do you ever find yourself craving Chinese food almost to the point of obsession? I get it. There’s nothing like a good savory stir fry covered in soy sauce or a chewy lo mein with a medley of veggies. However, let’s face it: Chinese takeout is not at all authentic, nor is it particularly healthy and fresh. It also might be difficult for you to get access to Chinese food right now. So, for today’s recipe, I’ve lightened up a takeout staple: beef with broccoli. All I did was freshen up the ingredients and ensure that they are more authentic to the dish. The result is a way better-than-takeout beef with broccoli that I know you all will love!

The Beginning:

I have a ton of great associations with Chinese takeout in my memory banks, which might explain why I love it so much.

When I was a kid, my parents and I would go to this particular Chinese restaurant. Actually, my parents had been going to this place since the beginning of their marriage, long before I was a twinkle in their eyes. Throughout that time, they managed to make friends with the owner and chef, Jerry. Usually during the weekend, we would go to the restaurant and dine in. Jerry would serve up the most delectable Chinese dishes, then he would come out of the kitchen and hang out with us while we ate, sharing insights about the food.

When Jerry unfortunately had a heart attack a few years later, he retired and handed the restaurant over to his nephew. It wasn’t the same without Jerry at the helm, though, and his delicious food went on to have a lot of influence on my palette long after his retirement.

A New Perspective On Chinese Food:

Sauteeing broccoli in a wok.

After Jerry’s retirement, my mom and I tried consistently to reproduce the flavor of his food at home, but we were just never able to get it right.

And then something happened that helped open up my palette to a whole new reality. My grandmother introduced us to her friend Rose, from China. Hands down, she is one of the best chefs I’ve ever encountered. Her food was on an entirely different level than the takeout-style of food I was used to. She was also totally willing to talk us through how she created her magic in the kitchen. My mom and I were totally captivated.

That’s not to say that there wasn’t value in Jerry’s food, but Rose’s dishes were quite literally bursting with flavor, texture, and aroma, and they opened my eyes to just how fresh and diverse Chinese food can be.

It wasn’t until I had my own kitchen that I truly started to experiment with Chinese food, attempting to bring to my own table what Rose brought to hers.

To be completely honest, I still am not even close. However, I can taste bursts of it in my food from time to time, and that gives me enough encouragement to keep chipping away at it until hopefully, one day, I’ll master it like Rose has.

Why Make This Beef With Broccoli?

Skirt steak

I have a few staple Chinese dishes that I go back to over and over again, beef with broccoli certainly being one of them. I wanted to create a more flavorful version of this dish by using a fresh cut of beef and more authentic seasonings. Furthermore, I wanted to ensure that my broccoli was crisp and not lost amongst the stronger flavor of the marinated beef. Thus, we cook the broccoli over high heat first to better control the texture instead of tossing it in last, as is typical.

You’ve probably noticed that Chinese takeout meats and veggies tend to be quite soft. Trust me, this recipe does away with all that. The beef is tender but crisp. The broccoli is crunchy and glazed with a beautiful honey garlic glaze. I promise that once you try this, it will be hard to go back to the takeout version.

One last, very important note: While ordering takeout is certainly convenient, it isn’t necessarily fresh or healthy. It can also be very expensive. Making your own beef with broccoli will not only taste better, but it’s also healthier for your body and for your wallet.

This recipe is also so simple. It comes together with just over ten ingredients and has a cook time of under thirty minutes! At first it might seem intimidating to create your own Chinese fakeout takeout, but I promise that you’ve got this!

Ready to become a DIY Chinese food convert? It’s way easier than you think.

How To Make this Beef with Broccoli:

A quick tip: beef with broccoli is typically served with rice. Since this dish cooks quickly, make your choice of rice ahead of time and keep it warm until you’re done with beef with broccoli.

Marinate the Beef:

Skirt steak with garlic in a bowl.

Let’s talk about the cut of meat. I highly recommend using a flank or skirt steak as they are lean but contain enough marbled fat to keep the meat tender after cooking. If you don’t want to invest in those, though, you can use any decent quality cut of steak. Just make sure it’s sliced deli-thin prior to cooking to ensure tenderness.

Add the sliced beef to a big bowl and stud it with some chopped garlic and ginger, cornstarch, and a generous pour of soy sauce. Then, mix that all together until the beef is evenly coated.

Skirt steak with marinade.
Skirt steak with combined marinade.

Set that aside to marinate while you prep your veggies and cook the broccoli.

Make the Broccoli:

Now let’s cook the broccoli!

Roughly chop your broccoli florets to prepare them for cooking. I honestly prefer using Chinese broccoli over regular broccoli, but that can be hard to find in grocery stores in my area. It’s even difficult to find it in seed form for the garden, so work with whatever is easiest for you to lay your hands on. We had two beautiful heads of regular broccoli for this iteration.

Make a quick glaze for it by stirring together some honey, more ginger, rice vinegar, and chili garlic sauce such as sriracha, sambal oelek, or just plain old garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.

Mixing the honey garlic broccoli glaze.

Next, you’ll need a wok or large nonstick skillet. Add a neutral tasting oil to the wok, and over medium-high heat, swirl the oil around until it starts to shimmer. Then you’re ready to toss in your broccoli. Remember what I said in my tofu larb recipe about not being afraid to get your heat really high for stir-frying? Well, this recipe is the poster child for that mantra. Crank your heat up and use a lid or wear an oven mit to prevent too much splashing.

Heating up the wok.
Cooking broccoli in a wok.

The broccoli should sizzle immediately when you add it to the pan. If it doesn’t, take it out right away and get your oil hotter. Once it hits the pan, keep it moving. Toss, stir, and swirl it around the pan until the green starts to become really vibrant. Continue tossing for about two minutes or until the broccoli is just starting to become softer but is still mostly crisp.

Cooking broccoli in a wok.

Add your honey glaze. Toss a few times to coat the broccoli, and then remove it to a clean plate and set it aside for now.

Cook the Beef:

Carefully wipe your wok or pan clean. Add enough neutral oil to liberally coat the bottom of the pan. Get it hot over medium-high heat, just like you did with the broccoli.

Cooking beef in a wok.

When it’s up to temp, add your marinated beef in a single layer. You may have to work with several batches of beef depending on the size of your skillet.

Let the beef sit on one side for thirty seconds to one minute. Then, using a thin spatula, scrape the bottom the pan and flip the beef.

Cooking beef in a wok.

You’ll begin to see the soy sauce marinade caramelizing to create a mouthwatering crust.

Keep cooking the meat, flipping every minute or so for about 4-5 minutes total (or about 2-3 minutes per side). If working in batches, remove each batch to a plate and set aside until you’re ready to combine everything.

Be careful not to overcook, as that will make the beef unappetizingly chewy.

Finished, cooked beef in the wok.

Finish your beef with broccoli:

Finally, add your broccoli back to the pan and toss it to combine with the beef. Working very quickly, add your oyster sauce, another drizzle of soy sauce, a squeeze of lime, and some chopped scallions and shredded carrots.

Adding the remaining vegetables to the beef with broccoli.

Toss until everything is well combined, and turn off the heat.

Completed beef with broccoli

Plate it and garnish with white pepper, sesame seeds, lime wedges, or sriracha. Or, if you’re feeling creative, try whipping up this wonderful chili vinegar to pour over the top by combining some chopped Fresno chiles and rice vinegar (so worth it!).

Chili vinegar for garnish.

Now, taste that and tell me that takeout is better ;).

Better-Than-Takeout Beef with Broccoli

A light, fresh, and totally simple take on the Chinese takeout staple, beef with broccoli.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Course: Main Course, Entree
Cuisine: Chinese, American
Keyword: Summertime, beef with broccoli, quick, beef, broccoli, easy, better-than-takeout
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 325kcal
Author: LM

Equipment

  • Wok or large nonstick skillet

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb. flank steak thinly sliced
  • 2 large heads broccoli roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot shredded
  • 3/4 cup scallions (green onions) finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce* divided
  • 1 tsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 2 tsp. fresh ginger finely minced and divided
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. sriracha, sambal oelek, or chopped garlic and red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • white pepper, sesame seeds, lime wedges, or chile vinegar for garnish
  • approx. 1/2 cup neutral tasting oil with a high smoke point such as canola, peanut, or safflower oil

Instructions

  • Place thinly sliced beef into a large mixing bowl. Add cornstarch, 1/2 cup of the soy sauce, garlic, and 1 tsp. of the ginger to the beef.
  • Stir until all ingredients are well-combined and thoroughly coating the beef strips. Set aside to marinate for about 15-20 minutes.
  • In the meantime, prepare your honey broccoli glaze by combining rice vinegar, the rest of the ginger, honey, and sriracha or sambal oelek. Whisk to combine.
  • Heat 1/4 cup oil in a wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Add broccoli and immediately toss. Continue tossing for 2-3 minutes, keeping the broccoli moving around the pan and ensuring that it does not become too soft.
  • Add honey glaze to the wok, tossing several more times until broccoli is fully coated. Remove broccoli from the wok onto a clean plate and set aside for the time being.
  • Wipe wok clean and add other half of the oil, heating it up again over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Add marinated beef to the pan in a single even layer. **You may need to work in batches depending on the size of your skillet.
  • Cook beef 2-3 minutes per side, ensuring that the marinade begins to caramelize and the beef turns a deep golden brown on the outside.
  • Add broccoli back into the pan, stirring to combine it with the beef.
  • Add remaining soy sauce, oyster sauce, and lime juice, tossing to coat broccoli and beef.
  • Add carrots and scallions, stir, and then immediately remove beef with broccoli from the heat.
  • Serve with rice of your choice and garnish with white pepper, sesame seeds, lime wedges, sriracha, or red chile vinegar.

Notes

*To make this recipe gluten-free, use tamari. I like San-J brand.
**To fry beef in batches, add first batch to pan in an even layer and cook according to the recipe. Then, remove first cooked batch to a clean plate and keep warm while you make the second batch, and so on. When ready to combine with the veggies, add all the beef back into the wok.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 140mg | Potassium: 665mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3007IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Karl says, “See!!!! Fresh broccoli is better!.”

Love,

Ryan, LM, and Karl <3

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