Meat has never really been my thing — I’d favor chicken over steak anytime and would rather eat salmon than brisket. We never were big meat-eaters at home so I didn’t grow up in a household where roasts were a big deal and never really learned to love meat. To be totally honest with you, I never even cooked meat besides ground beef until I got married to such a meat-lover, so I really didn’t know what to expect the first time I made stir-fried beef. Which is the perfect cut of beef to use in a stir-fry? How do I cook it? Would Jon like it? More importantly… would I eat it too or would I have to prepare myself something else? I called up my butcher asking what cut to use for a stir-fry and he suggested pre-sliced sirloin steak. Given my love for Asian food, I figured that a soy sauce marinade would be the perfect way to make me eat, and hopefully, fall in love with beef too. Let me tell you that the result was so incredibly delicious that I find myself continuously ordering pre-sliced sirloin steaks from my butcher, stocking them up in my freezer to try out in many other stir-fried recipes.
What makes this stir-fry so special is the spiced soy sauce marinade, which contains diced fresh ginger, ground cumin, honey, rice vinegar and chill pepper flakes. Soy sauce and cumin are two of my favorite ingredients, so I was pretty excited to mix them with the rest of the ingredients to create a powerful combination of flavors. Fresh ginger is a must in this recipe; ground ginger won’t do the trick and won’t bring in enough flavor. The beef becomes really tender and full of flavor when it is marinated in the sauce for 3 hours. If you don’t have that much time in front of you, marinate it at least for 30 minutes; trust me it’s worth waiting the extra time.
One thing you should always remember when stir-frying is to maintain high heat throughout the cooking process. Stir-frying is all about heat and frantically moving the ingredients with a wooden spatula so that they don’t burn, which is why woks are generally used in Asian cuisine, as their concave shape retains and distributes heat much better than skillets do. Which oil to cook with is also an important decision, as you have to work with ones with high smoke points — such as canola, sunflower or peanut oils. Please stay away from olive oil if you can. Olive oil is the healthiest of all oils out there, but I find that it slightly changes the taste of a recipe and prefer to use other oils instead to bring out the best of my dish.
This beef stir-fry smells heavenly and is so tender thanks to the marinade. The sauce will become thicker while you cook it with a bit of cornstarch and water, and goes wonderfully well over stir-fried vegetable rice or coconut basmati rice. You can even top the beef with chopped fresh coriander for added flavor. If you’re not a ginger fan, then this recipe probably isn’t for you, because the meat really soaks up all its flavor while it marinates in the sauce. But if you totally adore ginger then there’s no reason for you not to fall in love with it as hard as I did — and that’s coming from a person who really, really never liked beef at all.
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon peeled and thinly diced fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon chili pepper flakes
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
- 500g sliced top sirloin steak
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil*)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons diced green onion, white part
- A handful of fresh coriander, chopped (optional)
- Combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Pour the marinade over the beef, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but I find it best when the meat marinates for 3 hours.
- In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over high heat. When the pan is smoking hot, add the beef with the marinade and stir-fry for 2 to 5 minutes until cooked through. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and water.
- Stir-fry the garlic and the green onion until translucent and fragrant. Add the beef back to the skillet and pour the cornstarch mixture over it. Mix to combine and heat through until sauce thickens a bit. Remove skillet from heat source, top with coriander if using and serve immediately.
*VEGETABLE OIL: You can also use canola or sunflower oil
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