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Crispy Ginger Beef

This Ginger Beef recipe rivals your favorite restaurant and is guaranteed to land on your “top favorites” list!  It boasts crispy fried beef (stir fry option available) tossed in an outrageously delicious sweet and spicy soy based sauce punctuated by plenty of zesty ginger, punchy garlic and spicy red pepper flakes.  Your family will love this Ginger Beef recipe over a bed of hot steaming rice with cream cheese wontons and ramen noodle salad.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

BATTER

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper (may sub ¾ tsp black pepper)
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 large egg

BEEF

  • 1 pound flank steak cut against the grain into ¼ inch strips, about 3 inches long
  • vegetable oil, as needed

SAUCE

STIR FRY

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

Instructions

  • Batter: whisk together the cornstarch, flour and white pepper in a large bowl. Add the water and egg and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  • Beef: toss the beef strips with the batter until they are fully coated.
  • Fill a large Dutch oven/pot with 2 inches of the oil. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F (177 C).
  • Working in batches, add the beef strips to the hot oil. Use a fork to stir and break them apart as they cook. Fry the beef strips for 3 to 4 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove the beef strips with a slotted spoon or strainer and let them drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
  • Sauce: whisk together the low sodium soy sauce, water, dark soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Set the sauce aside.
  • Stir fry: heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook them for 1 minute, or until fragrant.  Add the sauce to the skillet and cook it, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes, until it has slightly thickened (won’t thicken much).
  • Add the fried beef strips to the skillet and toss to coat them in the sauce. Cook the beef and sauce for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sauce is thick and fully coats each beef strip. Garnish beef with the sesame seeds and green onions.

Video

Notes

Recipe from my friend Joanna Cismaru’s (Jo Cooks) cookbook, “The Big Book Jo’s Quick and Easy Meals.”  Get it on Amazon today! 
*Dark soy sauce substitute: whisk 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce mixed with 1 teaspoon molasses and ½ teaspoon brown sugar - works like a charm!

cooking tips

  • Spice level:  this recipe is supposed to be sweet and spicy.  As written, 1 teaspoon has a kick but is not blow-your-head-off spicy. If you are sensitive to heat, reduce the red pepper to 1/2 teaspoon and add more to taste to individual servings. 
  • Freeze the beef for easier slicing. Place your beef in the freezer 60 minutes before slicing. This will help the beef not wiggle beneath your knife so it’s much easier to slice thinly and cleanly.
  • Use an instant read thermometer.  I highly recommend an instant-read thermometer to ensure you have the correct oil temperature not only at the beginning of frying, but throughout the entire frying process.
  • The sauce will be thin.  There isn’t a thickening agent added to the sauce, like cornstarch, because it is meant to be thin.  It will NOT thicken very much as you simmer it.  We want the sauce to be thin so it will penetrate the breading and soak into the beef, enveloping it with flavor.  The cornstarch from the breading will also thicken the sauce as it combines together. 
  • Crispy or less crispy beef.  The longer the beef simmers in the sauce, the more sauce it absorbs and the less crispy it becomes – but more delicious in my opinion.  I like the Ginger Beef best when virtually all of the sauce is absorbed by the beef because this means it is saturated in the incredible sauce.  If you want the crispiest beef possible, however, then you will want to just toss the beef in the sauce until evenly coated and serve immediately.

Stir Fried Beef

The crispy battered beef is the signature of Ginger Beef but you can stir fry the beef instead – just don’t call it Ginger Beef!  To stir fry:
  • Skip battering the beef and instead marinate the beef in 3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce, 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 1 teaspoon white pepper for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • Whisk the sauce ingredients together, adding 2 teaspoons cornstarch not called for in the original sauce recipe. The original sauce does not call for cornstarch because it is not supposed to/will not thicken so it can be absorbed by the battered beef.
  • Working in batches (small enough so the beef can fit in the skillet in a single layer), heat 1 ½ teaspoons peanut oil/vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot and sizzling. Add beef to the skillet and break up any clumps; cook without stirring for 1 minute, then stir and cook until beef is browned and almost cooked through, about 1-2 minutes (it will cook more in the sauce). Don’t overcook or it won’t be as tender! Transfer beef to a large plate and cover.
  • Sauté the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes for 1 minute then add the beef back to the skillet and toss to combine.
  • Whisk the sauce to recombine then add to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and the beef is cooked, about 1-2 minutes. Dig in!

Prep Ahead

This Ginger Beef recipe comes together quickly, but you can prep individual components ahead of time. 
  • Slice the steak. You can do this at any time before making the recipe then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Bread the steak.  Add the beef to the batter, cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before frying.  Let sit at room temperature for about 60 minutes to come to room temperature before frying.
  • Make the sauce. Whisk the ingredients together up to 24 hours in advance and store, covered, in the refrigerator.
  • Mince aromatics.  Prep the ginger and garlic up to 48 hours ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT

This crispy Ginger Beef reheats wonderfully for lunches or dinners, it just won’t be quite as crispy, but still fabulously flavorful. 
  • How to store:  store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • How to freeze:  let the Ginger Beef cool completely in the refrigerator then transfer to an airtight container.  Label and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • How to reheat in microwave: transfer small portions to a microwave safe dish, heat for one minute, stir then continue to heat at 30 second intervals. 
  • How to reheat on the stove:  reheat in a skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often.  Add a slash of water if needed so it doesn’t dry out.