Stir-fried Grass-fed Beef and Broccoli - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Stir-fried Grass-fed Beef and Broccoli

Happy Chinese New Year! Mr. Picky is very excited to celebrate the holiday at his school today and the girls are happy that I’ll be making a Chinese meal for dinner tonight. I’m fun that way! My whole family loves Chinese food, especially stir-fries which are surprisingly easy to make at home and so versatile. One of their favorite dishes is Beef and Broccoli which I serve with sesame spinach salad, mixed greens with miso-ginger dressing or steamed brown rice.

Typically I make beef more in the winter than in the summer since it is such a warming food, but we have really cut back on our beef consumption in general, mostly due to animal welfare and environmental reasons. When we do eat beef, it’s always grass-fed, which is just so much more nutritious than corn/grain-fed. I am fortunate to have many local farmer’s markets where I can buy excellent quality grass-fed meat. If you don’t have a good resource for grass-fed meat, check the Eat Wild website to locate a source close to you. Grass-fed beef can be a bit trickier to cook since it has a lower fat content than grain-fed beef and it can get dried out. But with this marinade and the quick-cooking of a stir-fry, it’s terrific!

I love loading up stir-fries with lots of fresh vegetables, especially from the cruciferous family. I try not to rant and rave about all the health benefits of plant foods since they are all basically good for you. But there are some vegetables that do deserve special mention here and more regular place in your diet. The cruciferous vegetables contain loads of nutrients, including some very powerful cancer-fighting compounds. Besides broccoli, other members of this group include cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, bok choy, kale and a few others.

Don’t let the list of ingredients in this recipe discourage you. This dish is really not complicated and there are many substitutions that can be made. If you’re vegetarian, you can use extra-firm tofu in place of the beef and substitute additional shoyu in place of the oyster sauce. Gluten-free folks can use GF tamari instead of shoyu.

Here are a couple of tips to making a good stir-fry:

  • Have all your ingredients prepped and ready since stir-frying goes very quickly.
  • Cut all your vegetables the same size so that they cook evenly.
  • Don’t double recipes for stir-fries and try to cook it all in one wok/skillet. It’s important for all the food to come into contact with the surface of the pan. If you need to double, cook the recipe in two batches or in two separate pans.
  • You don’t need a wok to stir-fry. A large skillet will be just fine.
  • If you want to vary the vegetables in your stir-fry, keep in mind whether they can be stir-fried raw or if they need to be blanched first. Examples of vegetables you can throw into the pan raw are cabbage, mushrooms, thinly sliced carrots, celery, bean sprouts and snow peas. Broccoli, cauliflower, shelled edamame and big chunks of carrots should all be blanched before adding to the wok.

Although it’s tempting to celebrate Chinese New Year by ordering take-out, it’s so much better for you and your family if you can cook at home. In fact, with this recipe, they might not even know the difference.

For a few more of our favorite Chinese dishes, check out recipes for Vegetable Fried Rice, Asian Noodle Salad and Sesame Spinach Salad (perhaps only Chinese-inspired.)

Stir-fried Grass-fed Beef and Broccoli
Serves: 4-6, depending on what else you're serving
  • 1 ½ pounds grass-fed top sirloin or flank steak, trimmed of excess fat and cut against the grain into ⅛-inch thick slices*
  • Marinade:
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot or non-GMO cornstarch
  • 3 Tablespoons shoyu or gluten-free tamari
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons dry sherry or Chinese rice wine such as Shao Hsing
  • 1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • Sauce:
  • 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce (or substitute extra shoyu, but oyster sauce makes it taste like it's from a restaurant)
  • 1 Tablespoon shoyu or gluten-free tamari
  • 1 Tablespoons dry sherry or Chinese rice wine such as Shao Hsing (I always use sherry)
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (optional-for sweetness)
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot or non-GMO cornstarch
  • 1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets, stems peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined peanut oil
  • 2 quarter-size pieces of fresh, peeled ginger
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients until arrowroot is dissolved. Transfer beef to marinade and stir to coat. Allow to marinate at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.
  2. Make the sauce: place all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until arrowroot is dissolved. Set aside.
  3. Bring an inch or two of salted water to a boil in the wok and add the broccoli. Cover and steam until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and reserve.
  4. Heat the wok over medium-high heat. Drain the beef in a colander. Add peanut oil and tilt to coat sides of wok. Add ½ of beef to wok, spreading it in one layer on the surface of the wok and allow to cook undisturbed for 1 minute or until brown. Turn beef over and cook for another 30 seconds. Transfer meat to a medium bowl. Cook remaining beef in the same manner, adding more oil if necessary. When the last batch of beef is almost finished cooking, add the ginger, scallion and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the sauce and reserved meat back to the wok. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Toss in the broccoli and stir to coat with the sauce.
*Freezing the meat for about an hour can make this job easier.


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  1. Can I use hoisin sauce instead of oyster sauce? We do not do anything derived from shell fish at our house. I am going to try this with chicken tomorrow night and see how it goes!

    • I would first try looking for a vegetarian “oyster” sauce, which would be mushroom-based. If you can’t find that, I would maybe mix some hoisin with some shoyu (soy sauce). Hoisin really isn’t a great 1-for-1 sub for oyster since it is more sweet.

      • Thank you. I will give it a try

      • So I could not find vegetarian oyster sauce so I used 1 TBSP hoisin and an extra TBSP of shoyu. I decided to do beef which I rarely eat. My husband and almost 18 year old Mr. Picky LOVED IT! I added carrots, snow, peas and mushrooms cuz I love veggies. I am going to continue to look for oyster sauce but they said I could make this anytime. You have the BEST recipes!

        • Thank you for sharing that, Shelley! I am so glad you all loved it!

  2. I made this last night and you might have heard the raves at your house. It’s always a thrill when you can thrill all of the picky eaters at once!

    • Ha! Ain’t that the truth! Thanks, Caren 🙂

  3. I don’t make beef very often but I did make this with the sirloin. Everyone loved it. The meat was so tender. I happen to have coconut aminos and used those instead of the tamari. I think next time I will use the tamari. I actually found the same oyster sauce you have pictured here so I was excited. My husband especially loved it because I overcooked the broccoli a little. 🙂

    • Coconut aminos are great for people who can’t have soy, but I think I prefer tamari myself. Glad this worked out for you!

  4. I can’t see it above, what kind of beef and how much of it for this recipe. Thank you!

    • Sorry, I’ve been converting all the old recipes to the new format and I must have accidentally deleted the line with the meat! Just adjusted it. I use top sirloin or flank steak. 🙂

  5. do you have a recipe for chicken stir fry marinade?

    • I have a Chinese cookbook that I use. Just email me and I’ll send you a recipe.

  6. I cannot believe how delicious this was! I made it tonight with spinach salad w avocado and your Asian salad dressing AND the coconut chocolate spelt cake. Everyone in the family ate the same meal for dinner which was a miracle!

    So yummy. Thank you!!!!

    • Wow, Lizzie! SO impressive! And what a joy when everyone eats the same meal 🙂

  7. Hi Pamela! Is it safe to assume arrowroot can always be substituted for cornstarch (in equal amounts)?

    • Good question! I do tend to use arrowroot and cornstarch in equal amounts, but I find that cornstarch has a slightly stronger thickening power than arrowroot. But arrowroot is much more natural than cornstarch so I’ll always use that. 1 Tablespoon of arrowroot can thicken about 1 cup of liquid.

      • Thank you for saving the day yet once again. : )

  8. I love this with beef and have made it several times. It is a huge hit at our house! I tried to make with tofu instead and it turned out okay. Do you have any tips for substituting with tofu or another non-meat alternative? Thank you so much, Pamela! I love your site, and I feel like I have been stalking it for the last year or so.

    • Hi Leah! Do you press the tofu with paper towels beforehand to get the excess water out? I do that and then cube it, then I stir fry it. That’s the only non-meat I’ve used in this recipe.

  9. Hi. I believe there is an issue with your site loading speed. I hope you are able to repair it!

  10. Is it okay to marinate in advance for 6 – 8 hours? Can I use fish sauce instead of oyster?

    • Yes, completely fine to marinate for 6-8 hours. I have never tried using fish sauce in this recipe, so I can’t say how it would turn out. Fish sauce is a lot thinner than oyster sauce and has a more fishy-salty flavor. Oyster sauce is actually a little sweet-salty. I’m inclined to advise you to just add more soy sauce and a pinch of sugar in place of the oyster sauce.

  11. Do I have to use the peanut oil or is there an equivalent substitute?

    • You certainly don’t have to use peanut oil. You can use coconut oil (my choice) or a combination of sesame oil and olive oil.

  12. I made this with beef last night and it was a huge hit! My youngest told me it was the best broccoli he’d ever had.

    • I’m really glad you gave it another try and used the beef. My kids love it, too!

  13. This beef was a very popular hit. Everyone loved it and it is a for sure make again. We made the marinade and the sauce early in the day so it was easy to put it all together at the end.

    • Fantastic! Thanks for the feedback~

  14. Can I marinate then freeze? Sorry for all the questions.

    • I love questions! 🙂 You can marinate then freeze if the meat was not previously frozen.

  15. I made this with chicken but the kids didn’t like it. They said the chicken tasted funny — but they loved the broccoli. Do you think I should omit the oyster sauce if I use chicken next time?

    • Drat. Well, let say that I use a different marinade and sauce when I stir-fry chicken. I would guess that this one is too overpowering for chicken. If you eat beef, it’s quite delicious. Try adapting the stir-fry from class for chicken.

  16. This was fabulous…wonderful flavors. I prefer this dish made at home rather than at our local Chinese restaurant. The spinach salad was so refreshing.

    • I think when you make it from scratch, it tastes a little cleaner and less oily. Impressed you made the stir-fry AND the spinach salad!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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