Chinese Curry Beef Stir Fry features tender curry-spiced flank steak in an aromatic black bean sauce. Make this steak stir fry recipe for a flavorful and easy weeknight dinner.
When you’re looking for quick cooking, flavorful dinner ideas, stir fries are an easy solution. Not only do they cook quickly, but stir fry recipes are versatile and adaptable. You can make them with nearly any protein and sauce, and they’re a great way to use up the odds and ends from your produce drawer.
Chinese Curry Beef Stir Fry
Cuisine: Asian / Chinese
No trip to China would be complete without a stop in Beijing for a taste of traditional Chinese foods like char siu bao, dumplings, or a mung bean cake. After that, follow the old Silk Road trade route to the southern part of the country to experience a Chinese curry.
Although curry isn’t a traditional dish, it’s a popular dish in China, especially in southern cities. It was introduced to the Chinese population by citizens of India and neighboring Middle Eastern countries to the south.
Course: Main Dish
Difficulty: Easy 🥄
Seared, caramelized and crispy edges of curried flank steak, coated in a velvety smooth aromatic black bean sauce. That’s what you get in this quick midweek meal of crispy beef stir fry. Serve with rice or noodles and steamed veggies for a fantastic, healthy Asian dinner!
Preventing Chewy Beef Stir Fry
A common problem many people have is tough, chewy meat in their stir fries. Here are some things that can cause this problem:
- Using the wrong cut of meat
Be sure to use a cut of meat that isn’t overly marbled with fat. Stir fries cook very quickly, so it’s important to use thin, lean cuts of beef. You want a little bit of fat for flavor, but not so much that it doesn’t have time to soften and render down during the quick cook in the wok.
If at all possible, avoid using fatty cuts of stew meat! The best cut of meat for stir fry is thinly sliced flank steak.
If you can’t find any flank, other inexpensive and good quality choices are skirt steak and beef tenderloin.
- Not slicing the steak properly.
Be sure to slice the meat across the grain, not with the grain. When you look at a cut of meat, you’ll notice natural lines running in one direction through the beef; those lines are the “grain”.
In addition to that, be sure to cut pieces that aren’t so small that they overcook, or so large that they overcook on the outside and stay raw on the inside
Try to cut the steak slices 2 to 3 inches long and ¼ inch wide.
- Failing to tenderize and marinate the beef.
Tenderizing is especially important for quick-cooking dishes like Chinese curry beef. Because the meat cooks very quickly, there isn’t enough time for the fat to melt and render out, so we use a marinade to help with that.
Velveting is a method of tenderizing that many Chinese restaurants use. It involves coating the stir fry meat (or poultry) in a mixture of cornstarch and egg whites. After sitting in that mixture for 20 minutes or so, the meat is deep fried in oil for a minute before being placed into the wok.
That little bit of cornstarch and egg white tenderizes the meat and also keeps it from soaking up too much cooking oil.
Rather than velveting the beef, I use a traditional meat marinade for this stir fry. Liquid marinades and dry spice rubs work double duty, marinating the meat while also adding flavor.
Marinade for Chinese Curry Beef
The curry flavor in this dish comes from dry curry powder, which is added to the meat marinade. The marinade itself is very simple to make; it’s just a combination of soy sauce and rice vinegar.
Tips for Perfect Chinese Curry Beef
Here are my tips for making the best beef stir fry:
- Preheat your wok or skillet before adding oil- Adding room temperature oil to a cold pan will likely cause your food to stick to the pan. Be sure the pan has completely preheated.
- Don’t crowd the pan- Leave plenty of space around the slices of beef. This ensures that they caramelize and for a nice sear rather than being steam cooked.
- Let the meat rest before serving- You don’t have to wait long; 5 minutes is perfect. You just want to allow some time for the meat juices to redistribute
Want a little more stir fry recipe action? Bok Choy Stir Fry Salad is fantastic for lunch or a side dish for dinner.
Chinese Curry Beef Stir Fry
- 1 lb flank steak cut into thin strips (See Note 1)
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ½ cup beef stock
- 1 tablespoon black bean paste
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon water
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- In a bowl mix the curry powder, vinegar and soy sauce. Add the thin strips of beef and massage with hands to cover each piece of meat with marinade. Cover and place in refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes.
- In a wok placed over high heat, add the oil. In small batches to ensure the meat gets seared, not steamed, quickly stir fry the meat until cooked on both sides, 2-3 minutes. Remove from wok and set aside.
- Add the ½ cup of beef stock and scrape up bits of caramelized beef bits. Add the black bean paste and stir. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and stir to create a smooth sauce. Cook for a minute and add the meat back in and stir fry for 3-4 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and white pepper if needed. Serve with steamed rice and vegetables if desired.
- Slice the flank steak lengthwise into four or five 2-inch wide strips. Take each strip, and cutting across the grain and on the diagonal, cut thin ¼ inch pieces.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.