I have seriously been trying to perfect beef & broccoli for YEARS.
I always set out imagining a luscious stir-fry with tender pieces of beef & broccoli coated with a perfectly thickened flavorful sauce.
Reality? Not quite.
It seems like either the beef is tough or bland, the broccoli is overcooked, or the sauce is too weak and thin.
So FINALLY, I have created the BEST beef & broccoli recipe. For real.
Here are the secrets to success:
- Buy the right cut of meat. Since stir fries cook quickly, you have to use a tender cut of meat. No, cheap stew meat will not work here! You’ll end up with tough chewy pieces of meat that no one will enjoy. My personal faves are flank steak & skirt steak. They are thin cuts of steak that cook quickly and are deliciously tender when sliced across the grain.
- Marinate that meat. Alright, so now you’ve selected a tender piece of meat, but you still have to make sure it’s loaded with flavor. Enter, marinade! The secret to getting delicious umami-packed meat flavor is dry sherry and soy sauce. Together, these two ingredients impart a deep savory flavor. Sesame oil adds a nice kick of asian flavor, garlic adds an extra bite, and sugar and cornstarch coat the meat and help it caramelize in the pan. Just let the meat sit at room temp for at least 30 minutes and you’re good to go.
- Cook the broccoli with both heat and steam. The best part about stir frying is the high-heat sear you get on the veggies. But, you also have to make sure your broccoli gets tender. Direct heat from the pan will give it a nice sear, but isn’t enough to cook it all the way through. There are two solutions to this problem. You can par-cook your broccoli in a steamer before adding it to the stir fry, or you can add it raw, cook over high heat to sear, then briefly add the lid to steam in the pan until crisp-tender. I prefer the latter method, because why dirty an extra pan??
- Perfect your sauce. So many beef and broccoli sauces are just weak. They aren’t bold enough to stand up to the beef and veggies, and end up wet and bland at the bottom of the pan. To make the most flavorful sauce, I use a base of jarred oyster sauce. It has a salty & rich punch that you just can’t get anywhere else. It’s also nice and thick, so you don’t have to add a ton of cornstarch to thicken your sauce in the pan. Add a little sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, beef broth, sugar, cornstarch, and ground black pepper & you’ve got a lip-smackingly perfect stir fry sauce.
Now that you have the secrets… go rock it in the kitchen!
Best Ever Beef and Broccoli
- 2 cups short grain brown rice
- 8 cups water
- 1 1/2 lb skirt steak, excess fat trimmed, and cut against the grain into strips about 3 inches long and 1/3rd inch thick.
- 6 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup dry sherry, divided
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch, divided
- 6 cloves garlic, minced, divided
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup peanut oil, divided
- 2 heads of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets, stems peeled and cut into thin slices
- 3 tablespoons beef, chicken, or vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 large scallion, thinly sliced
- Place the rice in a rice cooker or saucepan & cook according to the package directions. Set aside when done cooking.
- While the rice is cooking, marinade the meat. Place the strips of beef in a large bowl and add 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons dry sherry, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 4 cloves minced garlic, and 2 teaspoons sugar. Toss the beef with the marinade until evenly mixed and well-coated. Set aside to marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- When the meat is done marinating, add 3 tablespoons peanut oil to a large nonstick skillet or wok and warm over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add half of the meat strips (letting any excess marinade drip off before adding to the pan). Move them around in the pan until evenly spaced, then let cook for a few minutes without stirring to let the beef brown nicely. Stir the beef, then continue to cook for another few minutes until it gets browned and a little caramelized. When the beef is done, use a slotted spoon to remove the beef to a plate. Wipe out the skillet, add 3 more tablespoons of oil, and repeat the process with the second batch of meat. Discard any extra marinade.
- Next, make the stir-fry sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together 6 tablespoons dry sherry, 3 tablespoons broth, 3 tablespoons oyster sauce, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Set aside for later.
- When the second batch of meat is done cooking, wipe out the skillet again, and add 2 more tablespoons of peanut oil. Warm over high heat until shimmering, then add the broccoli florets and stems. Stir-fry, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes until the broccoli pieces starts to have some sear marks on them. Cover the pan with a lid for 1-2 minutes to let the broccoli steam. Remove the lid when the broccoli is crisp tender.
- Next, add the garlic, ginger, and scallion to the pan. Cooking, stirring often, for about 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add the beef & any juices from the plate back to the pan with the broccoli. Stir to combine. Add the stir-fry sauce, toss to combine, and cook for 1 or 2 minutes more until thickened slightly to a sauce that coats the beef and broccoli well.
- Serve over the cooked brown rice & enjoy!