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Szechuan Beef

Does anybody have an authentic recipe for szechuan beef? I have looked over 6 pages of search results on Google and elsewhere with little luck, although I did find a recipe titled "Szechuan beef with bean sauce" on grouprecipes.com that looks really nice.

I think I have most of the ingredients at my disposal with the exception of szechuan peppercorns. Help!

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  1. You might want to check out the recipe for Martin Yan's Genghis Khan Beef in Grace Young's "The Breath of a Wok." I'm not sure it's authentically Szechuan, but it's delicious and it can be spiced to your liking by controlling the amount of Thai chilies and sambal. There's quite a bit written about this dish throughout this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/756703

    In the same book, there's a recipe for "Cousin Zane's Sichuan Beef" which I haven't tried personally, but which gets some pretty good reviews in that same post.

    3 Replies
      1. re: CindyJ

        My library has that book. I think I'm going to go check it out. Thanks!

        1. re: MichaelBeyer

          I did that too, before I bought it. If you do wok cooking even once in a while, it's a great book to own.

      2. Where did you hear or taste this dish? A particular restaurant? The name isn't particularly descriptive. They must have a dozen beef dishes in Szechuan, or more. Or it could a Cantonese interpretation of a typical Szechuan dish. You do want the peppercorns; there really isn't substitute (they aren't like black pepper or chile).

        5 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          Hi Paul--I was looking through some old take out menus and thought it sounded good.
          I found out that Penzey's now sells szechuan peppercorns. I'll have to pick some up.

          1. re: MichaelBeyer

            I participated in a thread about old Szechuan cookbooks (circa 1970s). The OP of that thread is probably the best source for information like this. I'll try a search on 'delfs' (author of one of those books).


              1. re: buttertart

                Agreed, informative and enlightening. Thanks for linking it here.

          2. re: paulj

            wow--I really like the szechuan peppercorns. They give dishes a pleasant tingle. I thought they would be too hot for me but they are not overbearing at all.

            1. re: scoopG

              Interesting to note that in her book Land Of Plenty, Dunlop says that the Szechuan people favor pork over beef. That said, I love her Dry-fried Beef recipe.


              1. Inspired by this post, I made Cousin Zane's Sichuan Beef for dinner last night. Never one to leave well enough alone, I made a few modifications to the recipe. I added two freshThai chiles for additional heat, I used concentrated tomato paste diluted with a little water in place of the ketchup, and I added sugar snap peas along with the onions and bell pepper (I used a red pepper) . Also, I used a pound of meat rather than the 8 ounces in the recipe, and prepared double the amount of sauce, although I ended up not adding it all in.

                All in all, it was truly delicious, and I don't think any of my modifications changed the essence of this dish. It's a keeper!

                1 Reply
                1. re: CindyJ

                  I made Cousin Zane's Sichuan Beef over the weekend. I found the amount of ketchup and hoisin in the sauce too sweet for my taste. I added some toasted szechuan peppercorns for extra heat. I'm going to try out a few more recipes and see how they compare.

                2. The "Szechuan Beef" dishes I have had at restaurants are with shredded beef, shredded carrots and celery. The texture is as important as the flavor, it comes prepared in a spicy brown sauce. (Not sweet) . I assume this is what the OP is after...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: menton1

                    There's Szechuan preserved vegetable that would add a spice crisp texture to a dish. It's a knobby root vegetable (mustard family) that is canned with 'chili powder, salt and spices'. Some match sticks of that would go well with shredded beef.

                  2. Sambal Oelek sauce can be used to add heat on individual portions. It has a green top and a gold label and an 8oz container is about $2 at my local Winco. Add only a small amount in the community dish for Szechuan flavor with a small amount of heat while not to over power those who do not like heat. Sambal and Soy Sauce even over noodles or rice with veggies / meat is an awesome combination. Sambal in a teaspoon is not too hot. Try it yourself, it just has the great Szechuan flavor you are looking for when mixed with soy sauce in any dish.

                    ~ SMaki

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: smaki

                      In Szechuan/Sichuan cuisine spiciness is described as "ma la" (麻辣). Ma (麻) is the tingly-numbing sensation provided by Szechuan pepper, that also has a distinct flavor with hints of lemon, smoky-earthiness, and juniper pine. But it is beloved especially for the sensation it causes on the lips and tongue. La (辣) is the more expected spicy sensation that you'd get from hot chilies, of which Sambal Oelek is one type of preparation, that lends both flavor and hot-spicy sensation. Sambal Oelek is easy to find in most markets, the peppercorns much harder. While Sambal Oelek lends a uniform Asian spicy flavor, your cooking won't really taste authentically Szechuan till you use the pods ("peppercorns") of the prickly ash shrub.

                      1. re: quixotequest

                        I definitely enjoy the "ma" (麻) sensation. Thanks for sharing!

                        1. re: MichaelBeyer

                          You're welcome. And if you're looking for the right flavor (and color it lends to the dish) of spicy heat (La 辣), the ingredient you want is doubanjiang (Chinese transliteration) or doubanjan (Japanese transliteration). Often called Broad Bean Chili Paste or Fava Bean Chili Paste or Spicy Bean Paste or something similar. The characters to look for are (豆瓣酱 - doubanjiang), particularly 辣豆瓣酱 (first character "la" means spicy version) or 郫县豆瓣酱 (first two characters mean that it has come from Pixian area of the Szechuan province).

                          The Szechuan variety has grades (and cost) depending fermentation length, but cheaper mass-produced non-Sichuan doubanjan's are often made with soy beans instead of broad/fava beans, meaning the flavor will be a little different. Doubanjiang of any cost can be really hard to find in markets if you don't live in areas with a strong Chinese population. That's what I found even with three different Asian markets within 5 miles of where I live. In that case substitute the common sambal oelek or Sriracha sauce together with miso paste; Red "aka" miso is a better choice for flavor than the yellow/white "shiro" miso as it is aged and fermented more.

                          Sambal oelek or Sriracha together with miso is not the same flavor as Sichuan doubanjiang or even soy-based doubanjiang, but will work in a pinch -- and better than sambal or Sriracha alone.

                    2. I made my version of Fuchsia Dunlop's Beef with Cumin over the weekend and added about a 1/2 cup of shredded Szechuan preserved vegetable. I thought it came out first rate with that extra layer of flavor.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: OnkleWillie

                        I'm going to try that out sometime. Sounds great.

                      2. Thanks for all of the great recommendation for cookbooks and specific recipes. I've had a ball exploring Grace Young's "Breath of a Wok" and "Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen" as well as Fuchsia Dunlop's "Land of Plenty." I thought I would share an excellent recipe from grouprecipes.com which I've adapted.

                        Szechuan Beef and Green Beans


                        * 1 1/2 pounds rib eye or flank steak, cut into thin 1″ slices
                        * 1 1/2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
                        * 3 tablespoons rice wine
                        * 1 1/2 tablespoon bean sauce
                        * 1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha chili paste
                        * 3 tablespoons cornstarch
                        * 3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
                        * 5 dried red Chinese chilies, broken in half
                        * 1 orange or green bell pepper, chopped into 1/2″dice
                        * 1 small onion, cut into 1" pieces
                        * 2 tablespoon dark soy sauce, divided
                        * 1 pound green beans, ends trimmed off
                        * 3 large garlic cloves, minced
                        * 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
                        * 1 teaspoon szechuan peppercorns (toasted and ground)
                        * 2 tablespoons rice wine
                        * 1/2 cup chicken broth
                        * sesame oil


                        In a small bowl toss steak with the next five ingredients: dark soy sauce, rice wine, bean sauce, sriracha chili paste, and cornstarch. Marinade for 30 minutes or more.

                        Heat wok or large non-stick frying pan over high heat until almost smoking. Swirl in one tablespoon of the peanut oil, and add dried red chiles. When they are darkened, add bell pepper. Cook until slightly softened. Remove from heat and set aside in a small bowl.

                        Add another tablespoon of oil. Add the onions and brown. Remove from heat and set aside in a small bowl.

                        In a medium bowl toss green beans with one tablespoon of dark soy sauce. Cook until somewhat softened. Remove from heat and set aside in the bowl.

                        Add last tablespoon oil. Drain marinade from meat and spread it out into a single layer in the pan. Leave it undisturbed for one minute, then stir fry until browned.

                        Add the garlic, ginger, and szechuan peppercorns, and fry another minute. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce and 2 tablespoons rice wine. Return to the pan the bell peppers, chilies, onions, green beans, and beef. Add the chicken broth and heat until cooked through.

                        Drizzle with sesame oil. Serve with white rice.

                        1 Reply