• Easy Black Pepper Beef


A superbly easy, timeless family favorite.

By Andrew Zimmern

I love this dish. I’ve been making it for years and long ago hybridized it with my beef with snow peas and oyster sauce recipe. You can use any green veg, but I stay away from anything that adds too much moisture, so avoid leafy greens or bean sprouts until you have made this a few times and feel comfy tossing them in right at the end as you make your final toss in the wok. If I add mushrooms I typically cut them the same size as my beef and wok-toss them separately to cook, then add them back in later on.

One secret to wok cooking for many dishes is that you typically will cook some ingredients, reserve them to a side plate, continue, then add the reserved ingredients back. Let me say this again: EASY.

P.S. Here are two of my favorite woks:

Easy Black Pepper Beef


For the marinated beef:

  • 2 lbs beef (If I use tenderloin or other luxury cuts I use bite-size cubes. If I use flank or shoulder, I slice it thin and add 1t baking soda to the marinade to help tenderize the beef for quick cooking.)
  • 1 tablespoon Doubanjiang or Toban Djan chili bean sauce. (Lee Kum Kee brand is great.)
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (a good one!)
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine (Shaoxing or sake)

For the aromatics:

  • 1 bunch chopped scallions
  • 4 sliced garlic cloves
  • 1 golf ball sized piece of ginger sliced thin
  • Several whole hot Erjingtiao Chinese dried chiles. Mexican arbol chiles or other similar work GREAT. I get my chiles from Fly By Jing or at Mala Market

For the vegetables:

  • 2 sliced onions
  • 8 ounces of blanched and dried Chinese broccoli (this is what I used—you can use whatever green vegetables you like; just see note above.)

For the liquid seasoning:

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper (I use a mortar/pestle and it works like a charm)


Combine beef, Douban, corn starch, soy sauce and rice wine. Let marinate for an hour or so at room temperature.

Meanwhile make your veg, liquid seasonings (stirred well), ground pepper, and aromatics in separate bowls.

Get out a bottle of toasted rapeseed oil or peanut oil, you will need 5-6 tablespoons for this dish.


Heat a seasoned wok over medium heat, add toasted rapeseed oil or peanut oil and raise heat until smoking. Add your aromatics and cook briefly until they start to toast. Reserve.

Repeat with your vegetables, and reserve.

Add a little more oil if need be. When it’s hot and smoking, slide your bowl of marinated beef into the wok, taking care as you spill it out to make sure the beef has just one contact point with the cooking surface. Brown well, toss and re-arrange on another side and cook for another minute or so.  Toss with a good wooden spoon or wok tool.

(If using sliced shoulder or flank, this will take half the time and you will only sear on one side.)

Add back the aromatics and toss, cooking briefly. Add back the cooked veg and toss, cooking briefly to heat it back through.

Add the black pepper to the wok and toss. Add the liquid seasonings, toss and cook for two minutes or so to tighten the sauce.

Spill out on a platter and enjoy with plenty of white rice!

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