Posted by Amy Andrews

Categories * Weeknight Dinners, Beef & Bison

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Stir-Fry Beef with Bok Choy

Say goodbye to expensive, sugar-laden “stir-fry sauces”.  Authentic Chinese stir-fry is a cinch, and also a sure-fire way to get kids to eat their veggies.  Ideally, you need a wok, but before my wok-procuring-trip to SF’s Chinatown, I had OK success using a large sauté pan.
Stir-fry has 3 main steps, and from there you can play with ingredients and free yourself from exact measurements & recipes.  I learned this method from my friend Marianna’s auntie, Cecilia Jennie Au-Yang, a cooking instructor & author from Hong Kong.
3 Steps to Stir-Fry*:
  1. Marinate thinly sliced meat for 45 min – 1 hour
  2. Mix stir-fry sauce
  3. Wash and slice veggies
Set some rice to cooking, get that wok nice and hot, and you’re good to go!
Stir-Fry with Beef & Baby Bok Choy
serves 4See ingredients for all components:  “The beef”, “The marinade”, “The stir-fry sauce”, and “The veggies” when shopping.

The beef:
1/2 – 1 lb. beef flatiron steak
The marinade:
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon high heat cooking oil (I like sunflower or peanut)
2 teaspoons cornstarch or tapioca starch, mixed w/2 teaspoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon wine
The stir-fry sauce:
5 tablespoons stock (chicken, beef or veggie)
2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce (OR black bean paste)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch (OR tapioca starch) mixed w/1/2 teaspoon water
The veggies:
4 baby bok choy
2 – 4 green onions, sliced
a couple slices ginger
1 garlic clove, pressed through garlic press or finely diced
optional:  1 carrot, sliced
optional:  1/2 Walla Walla sweet onion, sliced
Also:  an additional 1-2 tablespoons high heat cooking oil for the stir-frying, rice for serving
1.  Slice beef thinly (see tip below and set in medium glass or ceramic bowl with marinade ingredients at room temperature for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
2.  Mix stir-fry sauce ingredients in small glass measuring cup or bowl, set aside.
3.  Veggie prep:
  • Wash each baby bok choy and pat dry with a clean towel.  Slice off the end of the bok choy stem, and cut each bundle of leaves in half vertically.  (You want some loose leaves, but it’s OK if the center core halves stay together.  Slice any particularly big leaves in half lengthwise for less unruly chopstickfuls at dinner time.)
  • Slice the green onions in 2-3 inch chunks, including white ends and green tops, then slice each chunk in half vertically.  Set aside the bok choy and green onions together in a medium sized bowl.
  • Slice ginger and set aside in a small dish.  Press or slice garlic and set aside with the ginger.  Slice the sweet onion &/or carrot, if using, and set aside in another bowl.

4.  Heat wok over high heat and add a tablespoon or so of your high temperature cooking oil.  Add beef and spread out so that each piece is touching part of the hot wok.  Leave beef alone to cook for a couple minutes before you start moving things around (aka “stir frying”).  Toss the beef around until it is cooked to your liking, approximately 3 – 4 minutes.  Remove from wok and set aside on a plate.

5.  Heat another tablespoon of oil in the wok and add the onion and carrot (if using).  Stir-fry and let cook until softened, a couple minutes.  Add the ginger and garlic.  Add the bok choy and green onion.  Add the stir-fry sauce and stir-fry until veggies are tender, another couple minutes.  Add back the beef and toss to mix.  Serve immediately over hot rice.
Amy’s Kitchen Coach Tips


  • *  The “3 Steps to Stir-Fry” are my simplification of Cecelia’s tremendously detailed (and delicious!) original recipes.  If you are up for some serious stir-fry fun, seek out her book, “Chopsticks Gourmet Collection, 198 Hong Kong recipes in full colour”.
  • To make slicing beef (or chicken) easier, freeze the piece of meat for 45 minutes or so first.  It puts on just enough chill to make thin slicing a breeze.
  • The flatiron steak comes from the shoulder/”chuck” part of the animal, and is a delicious cut of meat.  If I can’t find it, I use skirt steak.
  • Make ahead note:  Mix the marinade and the stir-fry sauce the morning (or night) before you want to cook the stir-fry.  You can also get the beef chilled (per above) and sliced the morning (or night) before.  Keep the sliced beef refrigerated until about an hour before you want to cook.  It is best to cook meat starting from room temperature instead of straight out of the chiller.
  • Look for Hoisin or black bean sauces without high fructose corn syrup.  It is possible to find sauces made with good ole sugar, you just have to read labels.  I like House of Tsang brand.
  • Seek out a hammered, carbon steel wok, the bigger the better.  Best place to buy: an authentic Chinese market, where a great one will probably cost you $20.


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