Growing up, meals were almost always Chinese family style. Everyone gets a bowl of rice and a large plate to fill-up with goodies. On any regular weeknight, 4 to 6 different dishes would be set in the center, and we’d take first, seconds, and thirds, to our hearts’ content. Sometimes we’d end with soup, and always fruit. As I got older, I realized how impressive it was that my mom, who worked full-time, put this spread on the table night after night. It was always different too. (You can tell by now, my mom’s got quite a roster up her sleeves.)

One of the tips/tricks that makes this possible is offering a mix of dishes she already made ahead of time with one or two that can be thrown together really quickly. She might have marinated cucumbers in the morning as we got dressed for school. A variety of “red-cooked” meats, egg, or bean curd was probably made on the weekend. When she walked through the door, she’d whirl around the kitchen: steaming a fish and stir-frying another two like it was as easy as skipping. This led me to some wrong assumptions. I thought that every mother in the world did that and I thought it was no-sweat, easiest thing ever. I know now, I was so wrong.

Beef and Peppers

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy to pull-off a family-style spread of four to six dishes, but if you’re going to attempt it, Beef and Peppers is one you’ll need in your pocket. It’ll be the fast one, one of the last finishing touches to the meal. Once you get the hang of prepping, the actual cooking part takes two to three minutes. Really! You don’t want the strips of beef or peppers to over-cook!

Beef and peppers is such a natural pairing. You can add spicy chilies if you want a kick or leave it alone with sweet bell peppers for a mild version for children. It’s saucy so I like to put it right on my rice. BTW, this is not going to taste like the bastardized yet popular version at Chinese takeouts. Way way better! Enjoy!

*update: The recipe was edited on 7/11/2020 to allow for more flexibility. During the pandemic, I tried many variations based on what was available and many worked well.

Beef and Peppers 6

Chinese Beef and Peppers
~4 servings

  • 1 pound flank steak, rib eye, or flatiron steak
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 medium green bell pepper (or any mix of sweet peppers), sliced
  • any spicy chili, small thin slices (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce or vegetarian oyster sauce
  • rice to serve

Instructions –

1. Slice flank steak against the grain in 1/4″ slices. For thicker parts of the flank steak, you may need to slice the strip in half so it’s not too wide.

slicing flank

2. In a medium bowl, mix beef with soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar. Set aside for 15 minutes.

marinating beef strips

3. While beef is marinating, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or similar on high. Add peppers with a sprinkle of salt. Stir and fry for a minute, and remove from heat and set aside. The peppers should still be crisp.  After the peppers rest for a few minutes, they will excrete some liquid (amount varies with different peppers). Drain and discard the liquid.

lightly stir-fried peppers

4. When beef has rested 15 minutes and peppers are ready, mix cornstarch into marinated beef.

cornstarch mixed into beef strips

5. Heat 2 tablespoons oil on high in a wok or similar. Add beef and stir quickly, separating the slices. When beef has started turning color with some pink spots remaining, add vegetarian oyster sauce. Stir quickly to distribute. Add peppers back in. Give a few good tosses and serve with rice immediately.

Beef and Peppers 5

posted by jessica at 09:55 AM Filed under Chinese, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.