Garlic-flavoured strips of beef in oyster sauce with vegetables makes a quick and easy one-pan supper. This is one of my top choices when eating out at a Chinese restaurant and today I’m sharing my version of garlic beef in oyster sauce, so you can try it for yourself.
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Beef in oyster sauce
This is my take on one of my favourite Chinese dishes – garlic beef in oyster sauce, but instead being of stir-fried, the vegetables are steamed in the sauce so they pick up all the lovely flavours, while retaining their crispness and taste.
The strips of beef are cut really thinly, and then quickly seared to lock in all the juices. Because the beef is cut so thinly, it cooks very quickly so all it takes once it’s been fried, is a few minutes in the sauce to finish it off.
The beef is really tender too – this is due to the technique of marinating in cornstarch (cornflour) and an acid (soy sauce in this case), which is known as ‘velveting’. Velveting the meat in this way breaks down the fibres of the meat, resulting in soft, juicy beef.
The sauce is packed with lots of flavours. It’s got oyster sauce for umami, a hint of sweetness from brown sugar, balanced with a slight acidic tang from vinegar, and a touch of heat provided by the chili. There’s also a slight nuttiness from sesame oil, and of course, the garlic ties it all together.
As with most Chinese-type meals, all the work is in the preparation, and the cooking process only takes minutes. And because there are so many vegetables in this dish, all you need to serve it with is either a bowl of white rice or a pile of Chinese noodles.
Garlic beef in oyster sauce is a delicious recipe and one that features on my meal plan at least once a month. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does.
How to make garlic beef in oyster sauce
This dish is all about preparation – if you get everything prepared up front it only takes minutes to cook.
- Marinate the meat then fry until brown. Set aside.
- Prepare the veg and steam until almost done
- Prepare the sauce then add to the veg with the meat and simmer for a few minutes more.
For the meat you will need a piece of beef. You can use topside, sirloin, porterhouse, flank or scotch fillet. Slice the meat thinly across the grain, no more than a quarter of an inch thick (image 1 below).
Make a marinade by combining soy sauce, tomato paste, minced garlic and cornflour/cornstarch in a bowl (image 2 above). For the tomato paste, make sure you get the highly concentrated tomato paste that comes in a tube or a tin. Tomato puree won’t work for this recipe as it is too thin and not concentrated enough.
Mix the meat into the marinade and leave to stand for 15 minutes (you can prepare the vegetables while you wait).
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and once it is hot, lift the pieces of meat out of the marinade and transfer to the pan. Fry gently until nicely browned on both sides (image 3 above). Reserve any leftover marinade – this will be added to the sauce later.
Prepare the vegetables
- Peel the carrot and slice into thin julienne strips.
- Break the broccoli into small florets.
- Wash the pak choi, and slice into approximately 1½” lengths. If the white bulbous part of the leaf is very large, cut in half.
- Peel the outer skin from the brussels sprouts and cut in half.
- Wipe the mushrooms to remove any surface dirt and slice or quarter.
- Rinse the beansprouts under cold water and drain in a colander.
- (See image 1 above).
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan the meat was browned in, then tip in all the vegetables. Stir well then add 2 tablespoons of water (no more), cover with a lid and allow to steam gently for about 4 minutes. The vegetables should be starting to soften and be just wilted (image 2 above).
Prepare the sauce
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a jug and then pour the sauce into the vegetables in the pan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and leave for 5 minutes (image 3 above).
Add the meat and any remaining marinade, replace the lid and leave for another 5 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked to your taste and the meat is tender (image 4 above).
This is the point where I taste for seasoning and add a sprinkling of salt if necessary.
If the sauce hasn’t thickened sufficiently, thicken it by stirring in a paste made from cornstarch mixed with water. Bring back to the boil then remove from the heat and serve with white rice or Chinese noodles.
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Can I freeze garlic beef?
If you have any leftovers, you can freeze them for up to 4 months. However, bear in mind that the vegetables will lose their crispness. Just allow the dish to cool and pack in a rigid container before freezing.
To use, allow to defrost and then heat in a saucepan until piping hot.
Can I make garlic beef in advance?
Yes, you can make this dish in advance, and store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To use, just reheat in a saucepan until piping hot.
Variations and substitutions
This dish will work equally well with chicken. Just substitute the beef with sliced chicken breast of sliced boneless chicken thighs. The cooking time will remain the same.
You can also substitute the vegetables I have used with vegetables of your own choice. Just make sure the vegetables are nice and firm, for example, courgettes or zucchini would not work in this dish as they would be inclined to go mushy.
Here are some ideas for vegetables you could use:
- Sugarsnap or snow peas
- Baby corn or baby sweetcorn
- Red or yellow peppers
- Green beans
Just make sure you allow approximately 1 to 1 and a half cups of vegetables per person.
If you enjoyed this recipe you may like t try some of my other Asian inspired dishes:
- Easy Szechuan chicken with noodles
- Sesame chicken with vegetable chow mein
- Garlic chicken stirfry in a toasty breadroll
- Honey garlic shrimp with saucy steamed vegetables
- Chinese egg fried rice
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Garlic beef in oyster sauce with vegetables recipe
Garlic beef in oyster sauce with vegetables
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Beef and vegetables
- 1 pound (450g) beef (topside / porterhouse / sirloin / flank / scotch fillet) thinly sliced across the grain
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch / cornflour
- 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste / tomato concentrate
- 2 cloves garlic minced or finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large carrot cut into julienne strips
- 1 large pak choi thickly sliced
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 cup brussels sprouts peeled and halved
- 1 cup white mushrooms sliced
- 1 cup beansprouts rinsed
- 2 beef stock cubes or you can use chicken or vegetable stock cubes
- 1 cup tomato passata
- 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes optional
- ½ teaspoon ginger paste
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon cornflour / cornstarch mixed to a paste with 2 tablespoons cold water
- salt to your own taste (if necessary)
- Prepare the marinade by mixing the cornstarch (cornflour), minced garlic, soy sauce and tomato paste in a small bowl.
- Slice the beef thinly against the grain and stir into the marinade. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the vegetables. (See note 1).
- Peel the carrot and slice into thin julienne strips. Break the broccoli into small florets. Wash the pak choi, and slice into approximately 1½" lengths. If the white bulbous part of the leaf is very large, cut in half. Peel the outer skin from the brussels sprouts and cut in half. Wipe the mushrooms to remove any surface dirt and slice or quarter. Rinse the beansprouts under cold water and drain in a colander. (See note 2)
- Dissolve the stock cubes in 2 cups of boiling water. Then stir in the remaining sauce ingredients (with the exception of the salt).
Fry the meat
- Heat the olive oil in a wok or large frying pan, then lift the meat strips from the marinade and fry briefly until they start to brown. Once browned on both sides, remove to a plate and set aside while you make the sauce. Reserve any remaining marinade to add to the sauce later.
Make the sauce
- Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the frying pan and stir in the vegetables. Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover with a lid and allow the vegetables to steam over a very low heat for about 4 minutes until the vegetables are wilted and starting to soften.
- Once the vegetables have wilted, pour in the prepared sauce, cover with a lid, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the meat and any remaining marinade, replace the lid and leave for another 5 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked to your taste.
- Taste for seasoning and add a sprinkling of salt if necessary.
- Thicken the gravy (if it needs it) by stirring in the cornstarch/water paste. Bring back to the boil then remove from the heat and serve with white rice or Chinese noodles. See note 3.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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