24 February 2015

Beef with broccoli, and other news

Yesterday, what did I do? A lot of days I ask myself that question. Well, I walked the dog and I cooked lunch. And yesterday I also bought my ticket for my annual springtime trip to the U.S. Then I reserved a hotel room at Paris CDG airport for the night before my departure. The Air France plane takes off at 8:00 a.m., so I have to spend the night up there before I fly.

As usual, I cooked lunch. As I said yesterday, it was to be beef with broccoli. I had bought a pretty bunch of broccoli at the supermarket on Saturday, and I happened to have two more thin-cut beefsteaks (du rumsteak) in the freezer. It all just came together. Meal planning can be a lot of work, but sometimes things just happen.

Here's the recipe I used. It's based on recipes I found on the 'net and adapted to to my tastes and the ingredients I had on hand. For example, I didn't put in the sugar that a lot of recipes called for. Instead, I added some sweet dark soy sauce and some sweet Japanese hon mirin rice wine to the light soy sauce the beef marinated in — any semi-dry white wine would work. And I added crushed, chopped ginger to the marinade too. I put a good pinch of Chinese five-spice powder in the cooking sauce. I'm sure I put in more hot red pepper flakes than a lot of recipes recommended.

Beef and broccoli stir-fry

To marinate the beef
¾ to 1 lb. lean beefsteak cut into strips
1 Tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tsp. sweet dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp. crushed, chopped ginger

1 pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. hon mirin or other semi-dry white wine

To make the cooking sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. mirin (or other wine)
¼ to ½ cup broth or water
1 or 2 pinches five-spice powder
2 tsp. or more dried hot red pepper flakes

To stir-fry the broccoli
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small onion, sliced 
1 lb. broccoli, cut up
vegetable oil (for stir frying)

Marinate the sliced beef for 30 minutes or more in soy sauce and the other ingredients listed above.

While the beef is marinating, make the sauce by dissolving the cornstarch (fécule de maïs) in the soy sauce. Stir in the mirin (or other wine), garlic, hot red pepper flakes, and some of the broth or water (you can add more just before serving if you need it). Set the sauce aside.

Heat a wok or large heavy skillet over high heat, pour in some vegetable oil, and heat it until it just begins to smoke. Stir-fry the beef in the oil in small batches for 1 minute, or until it is no longer pink. Set the beef aside in a bowl or on a plate.

Add the remaining vegetable oil to the wok, heat it until it is hot but not smoking, and  then stir-fry the garlic and onion for a minute or two. Add the broccoli and stir-fry the mixture for another minute or two.

Pour some hot water into the wok, put on a lid, and let the broccoli steam for 2 or 3 minutes, until it is tender but still crisp. Remove the cover and let most of the water evaporate.

Then stir the cooking sauce well to make sure the cornstarch is dissolved and add it to the wok, along with the beef and any cooking juices it has released as it rests. Cook the mixture, stirring, for 2  or 3 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly thickened, the beef is heated through, and the broccoli is done to your taste. Add a small amount of broth or water as needed to finish the sauce.

Serve with rice or noodles, adding some light soy sauce and sesame oil at the table...


  1. Looks good; keeping it simple.

    We used to have tons of Asian condiments on hand but my husband noticed that just about every one is basically colored sugar. Now we just keep fish sauce, soy sauce, hot sauce, and toasted sesame oil on hand.

    1. Pourquoi faire compliqué quand on peut faire simple ?

  2. Looks marvelous, Ken. And your recipe is very well written.
    Must try and find some five spice powder.

    1. We are lucky to have Asian groceries in Blois and in Tours. We stock up a few times a year.

  3. This looks really yummy and so professional. Are you sure you didn't do any 'food-staging'; you know, sticking some pins in it to hold every ingredient in its place and brushing some varnish over it to make it look glossy and appetizing ... like they do on posters and in cook books ;)?

    1. Nope, no staging or styling. It is done. I take a photo. I put it on a plate. I take another photo. Then I eat. It's that simple.

  4. Yes, I've been craving Chinese food since a new Chinese restaurant has gone in along a street I take to get home! Beef and Broccoli is one of my favorites! I, too, was wondering, like ladybird, if you had made sure there were at least a couple of red pepper flakes visible in your plate! (I don't think you have to do that, Ken --- everything I've seen on your bllog always looks delicious and fit for the best of cookbooks!)

    Mary in Oregon

    1. There is something really satisfying about beef with broccoli. It isn't really spicy, but it isn't bland. The sauce is rich and the broccoli has some crunch. The rumsteak we had was pretty tender.


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