This easy black pepper beef recipe features melt-in-your-mouth tender strips of beef and vegetables coated in an irresistibly delicious sauce to be served over a bed of rice. Loaded with warm & savory flavors, this is truly the ultimate comfort meal to enjoy during the weekdays.
What is Black Pepper Beef Stir Fry?
Black pepper beef stir fry (黑椒牛柳), also known as Chinese pepper steak, is one of the most globally popular Chinese takeout and restaurant dishes to date, notable for its rich savory flavors and tender slices of beef.
This iconic Chinese-American dish is believed to have origins in the Chinese province of Fujian and can be traced all the way back to the 1940s for its everlasting popularity in both the Asian and American demographics.
On days where I don’t have much of an appetite, I often crave big and bold flavors to awaken my tastebuds, and this black pepper steak is often my go-to choice due to its ease of preparation and comforting flavors.
Every inch of this dish is generously infused with a luxurious black pepper sauce to coat the tender and velvety slices of beef and vegetables, to be served over a bed of hot rice to make any evening a notable one.
What do I need to make Black Pepper Beef?
Despite its sophisticated flavors, this black pepper beef recipe calls for a handful of everyday ingredients, which make it to be the perfect choice for any occasion.
Here are all the ingredients you will need:
- Stir fry beef: you can either purchase pre-cut beef strips from your local grocer or look for a cut of beef to prepare to your liking.
- Flank steak, skirt steak, sirloin, and tenderloin will all yield great results, so long as they are sliced thinly against the grain.
- If you are unable to find any of these cuts, I would suggest looking for a cut that is fine-grained in texture and contains some fat.
- Baking soda (optional), soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch: to tenderize and marinate the beef.
- Garlic, ginger, and green onion: for the aromatics.
- Onion + bell pepper: to add a crisp texture and sweetness to the stir-fry. I like using a mix of red and green bell peppers for the variety of colors/flavors they add to the dish.
- If you don’t have any bell peppers on hand, please feel free to use other vegetables that preferably have a bit of crunchiness, such as broccoli or asparagus.
- Soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine, sugar, and freshly ground black pepper: for the sauce.
And there you have it! All the ingredients you will need to make the best black pepper beef in the comfort of your home. You won’t believe how heavenly this dish tastes when it’s served fresh out of the pan!
Tips & tricks to make the best black pepper beef
Although black pepper steak is delightfully simple to prepare, I wanted to share with you a few of my essential tips to make the most tender & flavorful beef stir fry, even if it’s your first time making this dish at home.
Here are a few helpful tips to take your dish to the next level:
- If time permits, take the extra step of “velveting” the meat with baking soda prior to marinating the meat. This simple tenderizing process can transform even cheap cuts of meat to a restaurant level.
- This velveting process is the secret behind the ultra-soft and tender slices of beef found in your favorite Chinese restaurant, and I highly recommend taking this step if you prefer your beef to be extra tender!
- Simply mix in a teaspoon of baking soda with the beef, set aside for at least 15 minutes, rinse under cold water, and pat dry before moving on to the next step of marinating the beef.
- The marinade will make the beef even more tender, as the layer of cornstarch helps to lock in its juices and protects it from the intense heat of the wok. The results are more flavorful, tender, and evenly cooked pieces of meat, as well as a glossy sauce to coat the stir fry.
- Prepare your ingredients in advance, prior to heating up the wok. Stir fry dishes are meant to be quick and seamless to avoid overcooking, and having all your ingredients ready to go will make your process a lot easier.
- Use freshly ground pepper if you can: while this recipe can still work with pre-ground pepper, using freshly cracked pepper will yield the best results as all the fresh aromas will be intact, making the dish deliciously fragrant.
And that’s it! All the tips and tricks to make the best black pepper beef on your first try. This recipe was one of the most requested recipes on the blog, so I hope you enjoy it! 😊
As always, please leave me a comment below or send me a message on Instagram if you have any questions.
Other easy Dinner recipes you may like:
- 10-Minute Chinese Tomato Egg Stir Fry
- Soondubu Jjigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)
- 10-Minute Garlic Chili Oil Noodles
- Easy Dubu Jorim (Korean Braised Tofu)
- 10-Minute Sesame Noodles (Ma Jiang Mian)
Easy Black Pepper Beef Stir Fry
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil divided
- 250 g beef flank, skirt cut, or tenderloin thinly sliced against the grain
- 1 tsp baking soda optional, to tenderize the meat
- 1 tsp each soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch to marinate the meat
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp ginger minced
- 1/2 each red + green bell pepper sliced
- 1/2 medium onion sliced
- 2 green onion cut into 2-inch lengths
- Optional - to make your beef extra tender, add baking soda to your meat, mix to combine, and set aside for at least 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water and pat dry before moving on to the marinade.
- Add soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch to the beef, mix together, and set aside for 10 minutes. While the beef is marinating, mix all sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until it is just browned on the outside. Transfer back into the bowl and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil to the pan. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant. Add onion and bell pepper, and stir fry together for about 2 minutes.
- Add the beef and sauce and stir fry for 1-2 more minutes until the sauce is thickened and the beef is cooked through. Finish with scallions, and remove from heat. Enjoy!
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