Deliciously sweet, tangy and spicy… Make Chinese crispy beef at home!
I love Chinese crispy beef and always order it when I want to treat myself with a Chinese takeaway. It’s always amazing but doesn’t really compare to what you can make at home.
Taking the crispy fried beef out of the oil and then stir frying right back in the wok. This is the crispiest and most tender Chinese crispy beef you’ll ever try.
Where is this Chinese crispy beef recipe from?
My home town in California! I was taught to make this easy and US Chinese restaurant authentic, crispy beef recipe by a friend at school. I think we must have only been about 10 at the time.
His parents owned the local Chinese restaurant. It was a small town and that was the only Chinese restaurant around for miles. Luckily, his parents also happened to be amazing chefs. So when they learned how much I liked it, my friend invited me over to make it.
We cooked this Chinese chilli beef in the restaurant kitchen and I couldn’t believe my luck. I think that must have been my first cooking class and I’ve been making this one ever since.
How to slice the beef…
If you’re like me, you’ve had some amazing Chinese crispy beef meals and perhaps a few that just weren’t right. I learned that it is essential not to cut the meat too thin.
You don’t want the meat to taste of nothing but crispy fried batter. It needs to be juicy inside while still being crispy.
Be sure to slice the beef against the grain or it will taste tough and you don’t want that.
Make this Chinese crispy beef recipe your own…
I’m sure my recipe has changed over the years without me even realising it. Use this recipe as a guide. I like a lot more chilli in the sauce nowadays but you can easily adjust to taste.
The sauce for this crispy beef recipe is the perfect amount to just coat it with a little left over. If you prefer more sauce, that is easily done. Just double the sauce ingredients.
Please remember, however that if you add a lot of sauce, the beef will not finish as crispy. That said, it’s still very good.
Adjusting the sauce to taste…
Chinese crispy beef should be a perfect blend of sweet, sour and spicy. The thing is, personal tastes come into it.
Be sure to try the sauce after you combine all the ingredients. Add more soy sauce for a salty flavour, more sugar if you prefer a sweeter sauce and of course more or fewer chillies depending on your preferences.
Adding the cornflour (corn starch)
When I learned this recipe, we added about 4 tbsp of cornflour (corn starch) the the marinade. This is typical in Chinese fried meat dishes.
Nowadays I use less cornflour in the marinade and dust the meat right before frying with a little more cornflour. It gets crispier that way.
Step by step photographs…
If you like this Chinese crispy beef, you might like to try some of these takeaway favourites too…
Salt and Pepper Chicken
Sweet and Sour Chicken
General Tso’s Chicken
Chinese Chicken and Broccoli
Chinese Crispy Beef
- 400g (3/4 lb) sirloin steak
- Rapeseed (canola) or peanut oil for frying
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 4 spring onions, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) ginger, minced
- 2 red bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced
- 100g (1 cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¾ tsp ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp coriander (cilantro) very finely chopped
- FOR THE MARINADE
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 generous tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- 1 level tsp sugar
- FOR THE SAUCE
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 3 tbsp ketchup
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp black rice vinegar
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
- 3 tbsp sweet Chinese chilli sauce or another of your choice
- Place the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the thinly sliced beef and stir it all up so that the meat is completely coated with the marinade. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours for best results.
- Now make the sauce by whisking the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. This can be done a day or two ahead of cooking if more convenient.
- When ready to cook, pour the cornflour onto a large plate. Remove the beef from the marinade and dust it with the cornflour (corn starch). Be sure to shake the meat a little to remove any excess flour. Set aside.
- Heat about 7.5cm (3 inches) of oil in a wok. The oil is ready when a piece of the spring onion (scallion) sizzles and rises to the top immediately when you drop it in.
- Fry the meat in small batches until cooked through and crispy. Transfer the cooked beef to a wire rack to drip any excess oil. Repeat until all of the beef is cooked.
- Discard all but about 3 tbsp of the cooking oil and place your wok back over a medium high heat. Stir in the sliced onions, bell peppers and two of the chopped spring onions and fry for about 5 minutes or until just cooked through but still a bit crispy.
- Stir in the minced garlic and ginger along with the thinly sliced chillies and fry for a further 30 seconds. Add the fried beef and stir it all up to combine.
- To finish, pour in the prepared sauce and stir well until the meat is coated completely with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve garnished with the remaining chopped spring onions (scallions).
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 533Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 3653mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 3gSugar: 31gProtein: 22g
I hope you enjoy this Chinese crispy beef recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
Friday 5th of May 2023
I've made this twice. Very tasty. My only "beef" with this recipe is step 6. Discard several cups of hot oil from the wok? Not a lot of thought went in to that step, I guess. I think I'll do the frying in a separate pot from now on, leave it to cool when I'm done, and finish the job in a fresh wok. instead of juggling around a wok full of hot oil.
Wednesday 10th of May 2023
Sounds like a good compromise. Thanks Dan
Friday 19th of August 2022
I have three of your books now (curry bible, curry guy and Thai) and your my go to curry guy!
I’m now starting on your Chinese recipes! Salt and pepper chicken tonight.
Monday 22nd of August 2022
Thanks for buying my books and enjoy my Chinese recipes! Dan
Wednesday 10th of August 2022
Looks so good! What is Chinese sweet chili sauce? I tried Google and all I'm finding is the Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce which is Thai. Will that work?
Monday 15th of August 2022
Yes, just use whatever sweet chilli sauce you have on hand. Or you could even use Siracha if that is what you have. Thanks Dan