Beef with broccoli is a staple of North American Chinese fast food joints, but the real version of this dish uses Chinese broccoli (gai lan), not the broccoli florets you might be more accustomed to. Gai lan is mildly bitter, with tender leafy sections and juicy stalks, and it pairs perfectly with the strips of marinated beef, shallots, garlic, and oyster sauce. It's time to get to know it.
Why this recipe works:
- Blanching the Chinese broccoli first guarantees tender greens that will cook through without burning during stir frying.
- Stir frying in batches keeps the wok as hot as possible for the best flavor.
- For the Beef and Marinade:
- 3/4 pound beef flank steak, sliced across the grain 1/8 inch thick
- 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
- 2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- For the Stir-Fry:
- 1/2 pound Chinese broccoli ( gai lan or baby gai lan), cut into 3 sections on the diagonal if regular gai lan or in half on the diagonal if baby gai lan
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
- 2 whole shallots, sliced
- 8 cloves of garlic, chopped very coarsely
- Cooked white rice, for serving
For the Beef and Marinade: In a medium bowl, combine beef with all marinade ingredients. Mix well and let stand 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, For the Sauce: In a small bowl, combine sauce ingredients and set aside.
For the Stir-Fry: Fill a wok halfway with water, season with salt, and bring to a boil. Add Chinese broccoli and cook until crisp-tender, about 1 minute for regular gai lan and 30 seconds for baby gai lan. Drain and set aside.
Wipe wok dry, then return to heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat over high heat until smoking. Add beef, spreading it out in an even layer with a spatula, and cook without moving until lightly browned on bottom, about 1 minute. Continue to cook while stirring regularly until about halfway cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to wok and heat over high heat until smoking. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 1 minute. Add Chinese broccoli and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Season with salt.
Return beef to wok and toss to combine. Stir sauce to combine, then pour into center of wok; stir to combine. Continue to cook, stirring, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 1 minute. Transfer to a serving platter immediately and serve with white rice.