As a child, a visit to the post office meant a sizzling hot plate of black pepper beef was in order. When I first tasted this recipe, I was immediately hooked. Thinly sliced strips of flank beef steak coated with a spicy glossy black pepper sauce that was so spicy that I could feel steam escaping out from my ears! It hurt soooo good. The sauce which is savoury and slightly sweet is amazing with rice and my family experimented for years to develop our own recipe.
Learn how to make this chinese black pepper beef stir fry at home with me today and be rewarded with a life time of sweat and delight from the intensity of the black peppers. While the recipe calls for bell peppers and onions, feel free to use beansprouts, carrots and whatever vegetable that may be in season.
You will need:
For the Sauce (This makes about 5 stir fries worth of sauce)
1 Medium Sized Onion, finely minced (or about 100g)
8 Cloves of Garlic, finely minced
5g of Ginger, finely minced
30g Black Peppercorns
2 tbsp of Oyster Sauce
2 tbsp of Chu Hou Sauce (a type of fermented black bean sauce – this really adds a lot of body to the sauce so I highly recommend it)
0.5 Tbsp of Dark Sauce
0.5 Tbsp of Soy Sauce
1 Tsp of MSG
1 Tbsp of Shaoxing Rice Wine
1.5 Cup of Chicken Stock
3 Tbsp of Neutral Vegetable Oil
Lightly toast your black peppercorns over a medium heat is a pan for 2-3 minutes. Stir constantly to avoid burning the black peppercorns. Next, remove the black peppercorns from the pan and give it a good pounding with a pestle and mortar.
Add 3 Tbsp of neutral vegetable oil into a hot wok. Next add the minced garlic, onions and ginger and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes to allow the flavours to intensify. Now add the pounded black peppercorns and stir fry for another minute. Once you smell the spicy vapours of the black peppercorns, add the oyster sauce, chuhou sauce, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and Shaoxing rice wine and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes. Once you get a nice sticky paste, add 3/4 cup worth of stock (I used chicken stock, but you can use vegetable stock or beef stock if you want) and allow the sauce to simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Once the sauce starts to thicken again, add in your remaining 3/4 cup worth of stock. Once the sauce starts to simmer, turn the heat off and bottle it up. This recipe should nicely fit into a mason jar and can be used for about 4 stir fries.
For the beef marinate, start by slicing your beef into thin strips. Next add the oyster sauce, dark sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, egg white, cornstarch and sugar. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
*** I know most black pepper beef recipes out there (and restaurants) will add sodium bicarbonate to tenderize the beef. My family avoids this practice because we find that we do not really enjoy the texture of beef that has been treated in this manner. While the word of advice usually would be to allow the sodium bicarbonate to tenderise the beef for no more than 20-30 minutes, this has always felt like a ticking time bomb for me as I find that the longer I let the sodium bicarbonate sit , the more the beef feels rather weird/unnatural.***
*** I know that the recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of egg white. To measure this out easily, first whip up the egg whites (after you have separated it from the egg yolk) to break the structure of the egg white (trust me this really helps!). I usually use 1 Tbsp of egg white to every 225g (8 Oz of meat). Any more than that and I find that the meat does not brown as nicely due to the excess moisture. But Ted, what do I do with this remaining egg white and egg yolk? I usually fry the left over egg whites first and add the egg yolk to make a reconstructed (al beit) smaller sunny side up, but you can just make an omelette for yourself lol.***
When you are ready to stir fry the dish, heat up your wok over high heat. Once the wok is hot, add 3-4 tbsp of cold neutral vegetable oil and evenly coat the wok. Now add in your marinate beef strips and stir fry for about 30 – 45 seconds and remove the beef from the wok. We are going to be frying the beef again later with the sauce so we do not want to over cook it here. Its ok if the beef is still a little raw.
Now clean your wok and heat it up again. Once the wok is hot, add in 2 tbsp of cold neutral vegetable oil along with your minced garlic and ginger and stir fry until the garlic is nicely browned. Next, add the onion and capsicums and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Now add the beef back into the wok, along with 1 Tbsp of Shaoxing rice wine and about 3 Tbsp worth of the black pepper sauce we prepared. Finish off with the cornstarch slurry and once the sauce thickens, turn off the heat and serve the black pepper beef immediately.