Stir-Fry Beef with Bok Choy

by Sep 17, 2012

blog text updated May 1, 2018 originally published Sept 2012. 


Stir fry is really all about prep, because once you have the meat marinated, veggies sliced and sauce stirred together, all it takes is a few minutes in a hot wok then dinner is served!  So, get your rice cooking then follow these 3 basic steps:


  • Marinate thinly sliced meat for 45 min – 1 hour
  • Mix stir-fry sauce
  • Wash and slice veggies


I learned this method from my friend Marianna.  She and I worked together back when Oracle was a start up and we all started turning old—”a quarter century!”—Mariannas favorite shock-of-horror exclamation when one or the other of us had The Birthday.  But I digress.  (…and now, we really ARE old!)


Anyway!  Marianna’s auntie, Cecilia Jennie Au-Yang, sent a few copies of her recently published cookbook from Hong Kong,“Chopsticks Gourmet Collection, 198 Hong Kong recipes in full colour” and Marianna rounded up Joyce and I to cook “a banquet” for dinner one night after work.  We unloaded groceries onto the counter of her Church Street apartment and got to work.


 If you don’t have a wok, just use your largest frying pan.  Our large, hammered steel wok is a treasure from Chinatown in San Francisco.  Here’s Lawrence walking with our wok, the week before we packed up and moved to Montana:



Stir-Fry with Beef & Baby Bok Choy

Adapted from Cecilia Jennie Au-Yang's "Sautéed Beef in Black Bean Sauce" published in Chopsticks Gourmet Collection, 198 Hong Kong recipes in full colour

Servings 4 people


  • 1/2 - 1 lb beef flatiron steak (Yellowstone Grassfed Beef is our favorite!)


  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp high heat cooking oil avocado, peanut, coconut or sunflower
  • 2 tsp cornstarch or tapioca starch, mixed with 2 tsp water
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp wine

Stir-Fry Sauce

  • 5 tbsp broth beef, chicken or veggie
  • 2 tbsp Hoisin sauce or black bean paste Lee Kum Kee or House of Tsang
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp wine
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch or tapioca starch mixed with 1/2 tsp water

Optional Sturdy Veggies:

  • 1/2 Walla Walla sweet onion sliced
  • 1 carrot sliced


  • 4 baby bok choy root end trimmed, leaves sliced lengthwise
  • 2 - 4 green onions root end trimmed, sliced
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 1 clove garlic minced and mashed

For cooking: 1 - 2 tbsp high heat cooking oil

For serving: steamed rice


  1. Chill beef in freezer for 30 minutes for easier slicing.  Mix together the marinade ingredients in medium bowl.  Thinly slice beef and add to marinade.  Let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour.    

  2. Mix stir-fry sauce ingredients in an 8 oz. glass measuring cup or jar, set aside.

  3. Heat wok over high heat and add a tablespoon cooking oil. Add beef and spread out with tongs 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 then toss around using tongs or a wooden spatula until it is cooked to your liking, about 3 - 4 minutes.  Remove beef from wok and set aside on a plate.

  4. Add a tablespoon of oil to the hot wok then add the optional sturdy veggies (onion and/or carrot).  Cook for a couple minutes to soften.  

  5. Add the ginger and garlic.  Add the bok choy and green onion.  Cook for a minute then add the stir-fry sauce and stir-fry until veggies are tender, another minute or two. Add back the beef and stir-fry to coat with sauce. Serve immediately over hot rice.

Recipe Notes / Tips

  • The flatiron steak comes from the shoulder/”chuck” part of the animal, and is a delicious cut of meat.  Another option is skirt steak.  We get ours from Yellowstone Grassfed Beef and Bar 77 Montana Grass Fed Beef.
  • Make ahead note:  Mix the marinade and the stir-fry sauce the morning (or night) before you want to cook.  You can also get the beef chilled and sliced the morning (or night) before.  Keep the sliced beef refrigerated until about an hour before you want to cook then let it sit out at room temperature in the marinade.  
  • 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 and Lee Kum Kee .
  • 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.
  • The "3 Steps" 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. 


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