Satisfy those beef stir fry cravings with this simple hoisin beef, snow pea, and shiitake mushroom stir fry. This ‘feel good’ weeknight dinner recipe delivers on flavour in record time.
Got beef? I have so many beefy recipes here for you on the blog. Do you like your beef low n slow? Check out this mouthwatering Massaman Coconut Curry. Or, do you love it quick and sticky like these Grilled Teriyaki Beef Sticks? Whichever way you like your beef, I’ve got the recipe for you!
Beef Stir Fry
Today’s beef stir fry recipe is ready and on the table in mere minutes! You will be amazed at how much flavour is packed into this unassuming dish.
The secret? A flavourful marinade that does double duty by marinating the meat and acting as a finishing sauce. The sauce ingredients are a combination of sweet and savoury Hoisin sauce, garlic, and ginger accented by the sesame oil and soy sauce. It’s pretty basic, but oh so tasty!
Stir fry doesn’t need to contain numerous ingredients to be satisfying. This easy beef stir fry only contains beef, shiitake mushrooms, onions, and snow peas. A simple variety of vegetables allows each one to shine through while making the beef the star of the dish.
Beef Stir Fry Ingredients
- Baking Soda
- shiitake mushrooms
- snow peas
- Hoisin Sauce
- Soy Sauce
- Vegetable Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Green Onions
- Sesame Seeds
We’ll circle back to the beef in a moment, but first let’s talk about the other components of this dish. If you have access to fresh shiitakes, that is wonderful. They provide such a great flavour which compliments the beef perfectly. Of course, you can use any mushroom in place of the shiitakes.
I used a fresh from the ground white onion and cut it into large wedges. It had that signature sweetness that most onions in take-out stir fries have. I just love that flavour. Again, use the onion that is available to you.
Since the stir fry sauce contains soy sauce, I generally don’t worry about adding salt and pepper to stir fries or most Asian dishes where it is used as an ingredient. There’s no need for all that sodium!
Furthermore, the Hoisin Sauce that I used was a ‘spicy’ version and it gave the finished dish a nice kick. Use either regular or spicy Hoisin Sauce in this recipe.
Since it was snow pea season in Calgary, that is what I used. Sweet snap peas would also work as would water chestnuts, carrots, or broccoli.
Green onions (or scallions) and sesame seeds add a nice finishing touch to the dish both in flavour and texture.
What Cuts of Beef are Best for Stir Fry?
Flank steak is the most common cut of meat for stir fries. It’s moderately priced, quick cooking, and lends itself well to tenderizing and marinating.
The most economical cut of beef is boneless chuck, however much more care and detail is needed to prepare it for stir frying. It really is best for braising and stewing.
Other cuts that work are top round, round tip, round sirloin tip center and round sirloin tip side steaks — when cut into thin strips and prepared properly, can be stir-fried.
The Stir Fry Technique
Stir frying is a classic Chinese cooking technique in which ingredients are cooked quickly in a small amount of cold oil in a very hot wok. The technique requires ingredients to be stirred or tossed during the cooking process.
The earliest instances of this technique appear during the Han dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.) when it was employed to dry grain, not in cooking. The grain was tossed in a hot dry wok until it dried and then it could be stored without molding.
Woks are the primary cooking vessel used in this technique. They have a round bottom and high sides which enhances the tossing/stirring during this cooking method. Woks as we know them first appear during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).
Apparently boiling and steaming were more popular cooking techniques as oil was very expensive and therefore accessible to very few (including restaurants and the wealthy). Later, in the 20th century, frying with oil became more popular as more and more could afford to use it.
This classic technique is not as effortless as it appears to be. There are several steps within the technique that are essential to the dish’s final taste and texture. These two supporting techniques are tenderizing and velveting.
Preparing the Beef Before Stir Frying
Everyone loves a stir fry with tender strips of juicy delicious beef. However, there are a few secrets to achieving this very important texture. Simply slicing the beef as thinly as possible and frying it quickly is not enough to get that ‘restaurant quality’ beef texture.
The first step in every stir fry recipe, used by Chinese chefs the world over is using baking soda to tenderize the meat. To do this, add 1/4 -1/8 tsp baking soda and 2 tablespoons of water to every 1 lb of meat. Thoroughly massage it into the meat and let it sit for 15 minutes.
Baking soda is a very powerful tenderizer. It raises the pH level of the meat’s surface, making it more alkaline. This alkalinity disrupts the meat proteins, making it difficult for them to bond during the cooking process. If they can’t bond, they don’t ‘toughen up’…and the meat stays tender.
Marinating the Beef and the Velveting Technique
After 15 minutes of tenderizing time, it’s time to marinate the meat. The marinade serves to boost the flavour of the final dish but it also performs a role in a technique called velveting.
During velveting, a thick coating consisting of cornstarch and sauce adheres to the meat. This gives the meat a velvety smooth texture and protects it from drying out during cooking. This technique is used for many kinds of protein but is most common with beef.
Once the beef is coated, it is traditionally immersed in hot oil or even water. However, a hot wok with a touch of oil will do the trick when stir frying.
How to Make a Beef Stir Fry
First, it’s time to get saucy. In a small bowl, mix up the Hoisin Sauce with the cornstarch, water, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Pour 1/3 sauce over the beef and massage it with your hands so all the beef is covered. Set aside the rest of the sauce.
Let’s talk about the vegetables. A hallmark of this technique is that everything cooks quickly. Therefore is is super important to have everything prepped and ready to go.
Generally, all of the vegetables should be chopped into similarly sized pieces. I like to begin by frying my mushrooms in vegetable oil first, then setting them aside.
Next, stir fry the ingredients (add more oil if needed) in the order of time it takes them to cook. Stir in the onions first then add in snow peas. I always do the veggies first because I don’t like wiping all the meaty bits out the wok and then trying to stir fry vegetables.
Once all the vegetables have softened slightly (they should still be undercooked) remove from the pan and set aside. Add more oil, then add the beef and fry it over medium high heat, stirring it continuously.
When the beef is halfway cooked, add the vegetables back in and continue to stir fry for another minute before adding the remainder of the stir fry sauce. Serve over steamed rice or with noodles.
Dealing with Leftovers
Hey, if you’ve ever had stir fry leftovers you’ll know they aren’t one of those dishes that gets better the longer it sits. Try to make enough to consume immediately but if you fail in this, they can be reheated in a microwave the next day.
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If you make this Beef Stir Fry with Snow Peas recipe please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe please tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see what you guys are making! Thank you so much for reading my blog.