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Aug 1, 2014 08:35 AM

Authentic Chinese Beef and Broccoli

Ha! Anyhow, I'm trying to make this tonight for the kids, but I want to push the recipe a little, depending on yall's opinions.

Most American Chinese recipes call for a marination in ginger, rice wine, soy, and starch. I've seen some call for S&P.

Then the recipes that I have found call for stir frying in oyster, soy, chicken broth (curious to me), garlic, and fermented black beans.

My question for the hounds: should I push it with items such as szechuan peppercorns, an heroic amount of ginger, fish sauce, other fermented products? Cumin? Seems like this is a dish that wants to be kept dark and a bit sweet, with a bite from the fermented beans and perhaps the rice wine, but with little acidity overall.

I'm happy to follow the traditional...... I've searched CH and found what's there. Any last minute tips?

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  1. If you're looking for the "authentic" Chinese restaurant beef and broccoli experience for your children I'd go with Kenji's recipe from Serious Eats.

    There's very little that's authentically Chinese about Beef & Broccoli, yet the dish has a long history here in the US as a Cantonese-style dish, so I wouldn't push it with Szechuan spices.

    Note the absence of salt & pepper in this recipe, also the presence of chicken stock. It's used a lot in Chinese-style dishes having nothing to do with chicken.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mcsheridan

      mcsheridan - that was just a hook. Thanks for the recipe.....first one that I've seen with sugar + oyster sauce. I totally forgot about scallions, so I'll grab some.

      Good point about szechuan. They can't yet eat anything too spicy (or shall I say, won't), so I won't bother with the peppercorns.

      I could be overthinking this. I was looking for a way to hybridize it back to Chinese somehow. My 6 YO loves Chinese Broccoli in the oyster sauce. Next time, as I have good ole american on hand.

      Thanks for your help as always.


      This link takes you to a few of Grace Young's recipes, including a pork and broccoli stir fry that is really good. I don't see why you can't use beef. It is not mind-blowingly different but I like the inclusion of red bell pepper, straw mushrooms, etc. to add some visual appeal.

      Also, the cilantro beansprout dish is great and has added bonus of freaking kids out with the little dried shrimp.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tcamp

        Looks good - I can pick up some straw mushrooms as well. Thanks tcamp.

      2. I am a failed chinese food cook. But I keep on trying.
        A 'real chinese' chef in a 'real chinese restaurant' told me something I've never forgot and it applies to every style of cooking: "A truly great chef will serve you dishes wherein you can taste every ingredient".
        Dishes that are covered in herbs and or spices that negate the original flavor of, say fresh broccoli, are IMO failures.
        Like what's the point of pouring molten hot spices over a fresh caught fish?
        A beautiful fresh piece of halibut smothered in a sauce that will burn your mouth?
        Just up-end a squeeze bottle of sriracha sauce and gulp.
        That's not eating good tasty food.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Puffin3

          I 100% disagree. World cuisines are too broad to make a statement like this. Would you make the same sweeping statement about South Asian dishes smothered in spices? I've had crab, shrimp and fish curries that in terms of sheer eating pleasure beat the crap out of any sashimi, any day.

          OP, our Chinese family never made beef and broccoli at home growing up. So "authentic" is kind of a fuzzy target. Don't worry about it. Just pass your marinated (cornstarch, soy, pepper, sugar) beef briefly through the hot oil, add sliced ginger and blanched broccoli florets, then add the beef back in when the vegetables are almost done stir-frying. Finish by adding your sauce, then toss to coat when it thickens. The sauce/binder I use is 1 part stock, 1 part shaoxing wine, 1 part oyster sauce, and a couple pinches of sugar and cornstarch.

          1. re: RealMenJulienne

            Thanks to both of you. I sheepishly admit that I titled this post "Authentic Chinese" because my real goal was to make the Americanized version MORE Chinese. I do like Puffin3's advice of "A truly great chef will serve you dishes wherein you can taste every ingredient". One reason that I like the flavors of Thai, Viet, and Chinese cuisine in general. And what I was hoping to accomplish tonight.

            RealMen - what style did you grow up eating?

            And while I love a nice piece of fish lightly seasoned, I can also appreciate it when it is spicy. One of the best fish I have ever eaten was a blackened redfish cooked the night that it was caught. See the attached photos from my trip to Bangladesh, where we devoured incendiary fish cooked within the hour of them being caught. I cannot remember the three types of fish.

            Anyhow, I'll go with the "traditional" american Beef and Broccoli for tonight.

            1. re: rudeboy

              In that case, you can try a little bit of fermented black bean in the stir-fry. I think that might go well with the classic broccoli and beef flavors.

              That fish looks great. I had a crab curry in India that was so spicy I thought I was gonna die, but the flavors were so good I couldn't stop eating. I grew up eating Taiwanese and Cantonese food but getting greasy chinese-american takeout was always a real treat. General Tso's, chicken lo mein, and big fat blistered egg rolls stuffed with cabbage were my favorites. Broccoli in our house was always just blanched and stir-fried with ginger; we never combined it with meat.

        2. I really like dishes that contain all of the things you mentioned (szechuan peppercorn, fish sauce, tons of ginger, cumin, other fermented things), but I wouldn't put any of them in beef with broccoli.

          I usually use some ginger (but not a ton, otherwise your dish will be more like "ginger beef with broccoli") and garlic, and maybe a bit of onion, depending on if you like that. Then rice wine or sherry, soy sauce, corn starch, broth (chicken or beef or whatever), and oyster sauce. I sometimes include the black beans, but sometimes I don't. Sometimes if I want the sauce to be slightly sweeter, I add a small amount of sugar.

          I think you could somewhat easily make a Thai-style version of beef with broccoli, using garlic, fish sauce, sugar and a small amount of soy as a seasoning.

          1. If it's not pushing things too far, consider getting gai lan/Kai lan from an Asian grocery in place of broccoli. Chinese grocers have a wealth of greens, often remarkably nutritious, too.