Chinese-Style Spicy Beef Salad | The Woks of Life

This Chinese-style spicy beef salad recipe is a delicious starter, appetizer, or addition to a main meal that can be served slightly warm, cold, or at room temperature.

The beef is blanched and tossed in a spicy, garlicky dressing bursting with flavor. 

The Easiest Way to Thinly Slice Beef

The best way to thinly slice the beef for this beef salad recipe is to use partially frozen beef. 

You don’t want it to be straight out of the freezer, or it’ll be too firm to slice easily. You want it to be half frozen, so it’s pliable, but still firm. 

Then you can slice the beef against the grain into long strips. Slicing the beef thinly will give you more surface area for the dressing to cling to. 

Water Velveting

If you’ve been cooking with us for a while, you’re familiar with the concept of velveting meats. 

(Check out our article on How to Velvet Beef for more details.) 

Usually, after the marinating step, we stir-fry the meat or other protein in a hot wok. This time, however, we’re going to “water velvet” the meat. 

In other words, instead of stir-frying the marinated meat, we blanch it in boiling water just until cooked. 

While it may seem counterintuitive to marinate the meat before boiling it, the marinade does several things: 

  1. Tenderizes: the baking soda tenderizes the meat. If you would rather buy a more affordable cut than flank steak, you could even use chuck (still sliced thinly against the grain), and the marinade will help tenderize it. 
  2. Seals in juices: the water in the marinade adds moisture to the beef, while the cornstarch and oil seal in the juices and give the beef a glossy appearance after blanching. 
  3. Flavors: While the marinating time is relatively brief at 30 minutes, the Shaoxing wine and salt infuse the meat during that time. The Shaoxing wine reduces any gaminess, while the salt adds a first layer of seasoning.

This velveting process creates a silky texture, tenderness, and light seasoning for the meat, making it the perfect canvas for the dressing! 

Ok, let’s talk about how to make it. 

Recipe Instructions

Very thinly slice flank steak against the grain (it should be partially frozen to make this easier).

thinly slicing flank steak against the grain

Add it to a medium bowl. Add the water, cornstarch, vegetable oil, Shaoxing wine, baking soda, and salt. Mix well, and marinate for 30 minutes. 

Marinating thinly sliced beef.

Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients.

chili, chili flakes, sesame seeds, sugar, garlic, cilantro

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the beef…

Adding marinated beef slices to boiling water

…and blanch for 45 seconds to 1 minute, just until it turns mostly opaque (it’s ok if it’s still a little pale pink in spots). Drain well and transfer the beef to a mixing bowl.

Removing blanched beef slices from pot with strainer

Add the garlic, chili, sugar, sesame seeds, and Sichuan chili flakes to the beef in little piles next to each other.

Sugar, chili, garlic and sesame seeds on beef

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a small pan, and pour over the garlic, chili, and sesame seeds. 

Pouring hot oil over seasonings on beef

Add the vinegar, oyster sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and cilantro.

Beef, cilantro, chili, sesame seeds, in glass bowl

Toss!

Tossed Chinese beef salad

And serve. 

Spicy Beef Salad
Spicy Beef Salad

Chinese-style Spicy Beef Salad

This spicy beef salad recipe is a delicious starter or addition to a main meal that can be served slightly warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Chinese Spicy Beef Salad

serves: 4

Ingredients

For the rest of the dish:

Instructions

  • Very thinly slice flank steak against the grain (it should be partially frozen to make this easier), and add it to a medium bowl. Add the water, cornstarch, vegetable oil, Shaoxing wine, baking soda, and salt. Mix well, and marinate for 30 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the beef, and blanch for 45 seconds to 1 minute, just until it turns mostly opaque (it’s ok if it’s still a little pale pink in spots). Drain well and transfer the beef to a mixing bowl.

  • Add the garlic, chili, sugar, sesame seeds, and Sichuan chili flakes to the beef in little piles next to each other. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a small pan, and pour over the garlic, chili, and sesame seeds.

  • Add the vinegar, oyster sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and cilantro. Toss and serve.

nutrition facts

Calories: 213kcal (11%) Carbohydrates: 4g (1%) Protein: 19g (38%) Fat: 13g (20%) Saturated Fat: 8g (40%) Cholesterol: 51mg (17%) Sodium: 589mg (25%) Potassium: 341mg (10%) Fiber: 1g (4%) Sugar: 1g (1%) Vitamin A: 373IU (7%) Vitamin C: 3mg (4%) Calcium: 47mg (5%) Iron: 2mg (11%)

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