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How to cook chinese beef with broccoli.

Updated on August 1, 2010

There have been various types of Asian cooking recipes online that does not work properly. Who want this mediocre end result, which makes you still wonder what the restaurants do with the meat?

There are two known techniques used among chinese restaurant staff. The first one is called velveting, which involves meat marinated in egg white, corn starch and chinese rice wine. After some time in the fridge the meat is blanched in medium hot oil for about 1 minute, set aside and added to the stir fry later.

The second technique is a slightly healthier option using baking soda as a tenderizing agent. A pinch of baking soda is mixed with liquids such as rice wine or soy sauce. Towards the end starch is added, to bind the ingredients together. Tapioca, corn or potato starch are the most recommended type to use. Starch serves the purpose of sealing in the juices, retain succulence and creates a nice little crust on the meat's surface.

Baking soda or baking powder?

Baking powder will NOT work. What you want to look for here, is bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). I tried baking powder once, but result ended in a tasteless mystery meat kind of consistency of the meat.

Explanation of the baking soda mystery! The baking soda tears down connective tissues in the meat leaving a tender silky texture when marinating raw cuts of meat.

Vegetable overlay

Broccoli florets, minced garlic, ginger and mixed sauce.
Broccoli florets, minced garlic, ginger and mixed sauce.

Why should I bother the stress of cooking this food at home?

Many restaurants tend to rely on MSG as a flavor enhancer. In today's society science have proven, that people may suffer from mild to severe msg intolerance. By cooking this food at home with the right efforts you can be more aware of what your body is consuming.

Side effects from msg intolerance involves headaches, abdominal pains and even in rare cases severe health conditions. So what about making food with less MSG, that taste just as delicious at home?.

Oyster sauce contains msg in many cases, but there are brands such as dynasty or wok mei that are free from added MSG. If you are highly skeptical you could always substitute with a naturally brewed soy sauce or tamari, but the flavor will not be exactly the same. San-J produces a natural tamari without preservatives and artificial flavorings.

Some oils can be high in saturated fats. By choosing the correct type of oil and stir frying instead of calling your local take out you have already made a healthier decision.

Who wouldn't like to leave a date, family member, a colleague or a friend craving for more bowls of rice?

Tender cut of beef

Sliced beef

Thinly slice beef. Remember to always cut it against the grain to avoid a tough, chewy and tasteless consistency.
Thinly slice beef. Remember to always cut it against the grain to avoid a tough, chewy and tasteless consistency.

After marinating beef

Useful hint. Knead all the ingredients in with clean hands, this will mix all the ingredients into the meat better.
Useful hint. Knead all the ingredients in with clean hands, this will mix all the ingredients into the meat better.

Precooked Beef

This is how the precooked beef looks like after a stir on high heat in the wok.
This is how the precooked beef looks like after a stir on high heat in the wok.

Blanching the broccoli

Blanching the broccoli in salty water.
Blanching the broccoli in salty water.

Drained broccoli

Blanched broccoli put in the strainer, after being washed in cold water.
Blanched broccoli put in the strainer, after being washed in cold water.

Slurry made from starch

This time i made a slurry of tapioca starch and water.
This time i made a slurry of tapioca starch and water.

The actual cooking process

Oil type matters a lot.

There are various types of oils that are suitable for these purposes such as:

  • Rapeseed oil
  • Canola oil (very low in saturated fat and cholesterol)
  • Peanut oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Corn oil


  • 1 pound of tender beef.
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 1 teaspoon po lo ku mushroom seasoning.
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry.
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2-3 teaspoons tapioca, potato or corn starch.
  • 1 Tablespoon of cooking oil


  • 1 Regular broccoli cut into florets or 1 package of Chinese broccoli.
  • 1 tbsp Minced ginger and garlic.


  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1.5 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of chicken powder (if you don't have chicken powder, replace water with rich chicken broth).
  • 2 teaspoons of shaoxing rice wine, sherry or sake.
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce.
  • 2 tablespoons of po lo ku mushroom seasoning.
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil.
  • 2 teaspoons of corn starch mixed with 2 teaspoons of water. (this slurry will be added in the end of the stir fry process. Add in little by little, the meat contain corn starch and will slightly thicken the sauce too).


  • Cut the meat across the grain into thin strips.
  • Place the beef into a bowl.
  • Add baking soda and combine the other ingredients except starch.
  • Mix well with clean hands., you will now hear the baking soda starting to break down the connective tissues in the meat.
  • Add the chosen starch and mix until a slightly sticky, but saucy consistency is achieved.
  • Mix in the cooking oil to allow the flavors to penetrate into the meat.


  • Heat up water with salt until boiling, blanch broccoli for about 1 minute, put into a strainer and rinse in cold water immediately to stop the cooking process.
  • Preheat wok on high heat until it slightly begins to smoke. (regards cast iron or carbon steel woks only).
  • Add about 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to the sides.
  • Add half of the marinated beef and let sizzle for about 1 minute before turning. Stir fry until color changes, dishout and set aside. Repeat step with rest of the meat. Hint! You might want to add some more oil before cooking the second batch if needed.
  • Clean wok if necessary, reheat wok on high with some more oil. Add the chopped ginger/garlic and stir for about 5 seconds, stir fry broccoli for 2 minutes. Now add the sauce and pour in the starch slurry little by little until desired thickness is achieved. Toss in the beef at the very end.
  • Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
  • Hint! If you add stir fried meat into sauces before they are thickened, the silky texture will be gone.

For a more authentic touch on the dish you can always substitute broccoli with Gai lan which is a chinese/thai broccoli. It hadds a marvelous green color to the dish and a nice crunchy texture.

Soft like velvet beef and broccoli is done.

Stir fried beef with broccoli after using the step by step/how to technique above.
Stir fried beef with broccoli after using the step by step/how to technique above.

Have you tried this recipe yet?

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    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Can't wait to try this recipe and I am so glad I found the hint about not adding the meat until after the sauce has thickened. I've always wondered why I don't get that same glossy look as the pictures in the recipes.

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Scandinavia


      I'm glad to hear that you like the recipe. My personal blog will soon launch featuring more asian recipes;)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I tried the beef and broccoli recipie today, and I got so excited when the beef was so tender. I usually don't like beef in stir fry because of the toughness of the beef strips, but this rocks!! I did the soda recipie. Thank you so much for posting this.

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Scandinavia


      It's impossible to eliminate msg completely as its used in many products. But yours truly who wrote this article experiences pain from crystalized MSG (ajinomoto powder), several other people have had allergic reactions and headaches, abdominal pains etc. Remember that people are individuals, while the vast majority of people might handle certain food products, there are still people who have reactions in one way or another.

      I even know chinese people who choose to not use ajinomoto in their food simply because they believe it overpowers the natural flavors as well as causes them some sort of mild discomfort.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      So what "science" says MSG causes any type of discomfort?

      The fact is there is NO science that has shown this. In this age of Google, you can easily check the facts.

      You know, just the facts, ma'am

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Scandinavia

      Hi Thuy,

      Sorry for the late reply. I'm getting more active now, I have now improved the recipe with better directions. You can use Corn starch, potato starch or tapioca starch. Actually from experience, tapica starch can add a more shiny look to marinated cooked meat, and clearer look on sauces. Besides Tapioca starch also thickens well even on lower heats.

      I would suggest using corn starch, tapioca or potato starch. Thanks for the comment. Hope the edited version of the recipe will be more helpful.

      I also used "teaspoons" and "Tablespoon" instead of tsp or tbsp in the description.

    • profile image


      9 years ago


      You mentioned 2tsp of starch in making the you mean 2tsp of cornflour?



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