Szechuan beef is a popular, spicy Asian stir fry that’s quick and easy to make. This version is accented with sweet red bell pepper and fresh asparagus.
My dad and I couldn’t help singing that old tune, traveling on a slow boat, down the Li river the summer of ’87. China had opened its arms to Western tourists just a few years prior. I remember thinking that it was a country poised on the edge of democracy, yearning for capitalism. I had taken a class in college on Chinese history and politics, including the Cultural Revolution, and thought for sure they seemed ready. Sadly, I was mistaken, and just a couple of years later, the Tiananmen Square “incident” happened. China was plunged into Communist darkness once again.
You would recognize Guilin’s iconic countryside immediately. If you’ve ever seen traditional Chinese paintings, they always seem to feature those beautiful limestone mountain formations which rise out of the ground like fingers. Fog wends its way in and out of them as whispers its way down to the river bank. The best way to see those mountains is by boat.
The hotels then were simple and the people eager to please. I was excited to try all the food the country had to offer. Unfortunately, outside of Hong Kong and Macao, the food was not as I’d hope it would be. I was looking forward to spicy, flavorful Szechuan food. Perhaps the food was toned down to accommodate the Western palate? Traveler’s expectations are more sophisticated now, and I am confident this influences the cuisine. So, I hope to return some day to sample it!
This recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine, for Szechuan Chicken Stir-Fry. The majority of my recipe ingredients are different – pretty much the only part that is original is the Szechuan sauce.
Enjoy this recipe for Szechuan beef!
- 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil divided
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons chile paste use less if you don't like spicy
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons canola oil divided
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon peeled fresh ginger minced
- 16 ounces 1 lb. flank steak, sliced thinly against the grain
- 1 bunch of asparagus ends trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- medium onion sliced
- large red bell pepper sliced
- 3-4 green onions sliced on the diagonal
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
- Combine 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add beef and stir-fry 2 minutes. Remove beef from the pan.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil add onions, asparagus, bell peppers ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
- Add broth mixture and cook another minute or until thick. Return beef to the pan, cooking until beef is done and veggies are crisp-tender. Toss in sliced green onions and peanuts.
- Serve over rice.
Are you looking for more Asian dishes to try? These are some of my favorites: