My favorite type of takeout is a very close call between chinese and thai. I grew up with mostly indian food, and some indianized versions of good ole’ american fare. I didn’t know that burgers weren’t supposed to have garlic and ginger paste, garam masaala, or cilantro in them until I was well into my teenage years. And if it didn’t have a healthy coloring of yellow from turmeric, it was bland and tasteless; it was one of the laws of nature in my house. If american fare was foreign to my family, takeout chinese and other types of asian cuisine might as well have come from Tatooine as far as we were concerned. Luckily for me, I went to a friend’s house for dinner one night, while in high school, and her family ordered chinese food. Thus began my love affair with chinese takeout.
Fast forward to present-day where a night of Netflix binge watching and chinese (or thai) takeout after the munchkins are tucked into bed, is my ultimate way to unwind. It’s even better if there is a backlog of chores that I’m ignoring at the moment. There’s just something so rebellious about putting off work to play. So this weekend, I made The Mister binge watch a
few episodes the ENTIRE SEASON of Fuller House while seriously wanting chinese takeout. Don’t look at me with that smug smile- you know you, child of the 90s did the exact same thing, lounging around in your pajamas, relishing in the glory that was your childhood (or teenagedom). It simply can’t be helped.
I didn’t get my takeout fix and it carried over into the week so I gave in and decided to do something about it, which is kinda hard to do when you’ve reset your healthy eating vows for like the 10,000,000th time in the last 3 months and said it was the last and final time each. single.time. I did the next best thing: I made broccoli and beef myself.
Dear reader, you may commence drooling as I have, even though I just ate every last grain and morsel of this very bowl that I photographed. Major perk of being a food blogger: you get to eat the props. How could I say no to a slightly sweet, slightly salty sauce laced with ginger undertones, perfectly tender but still crisp broccoli florets and those amazingly delicate strips of beef? You try saying no when it calls to you. And guess what? My version if broccoli and beef is a lot leaner and cleaner than the takeout version so go ahead and indulge.
The sauce is rich and thick and I actually doubled the recipe for the sauce and saved half of it for topping when reheating or just for those of us who like extra saucy broccoli and beef. ALWAYS more sauce. ALWAYS. Honestly, you can the eat broccoli and beef by itself but if you want to stretch it and have more portions, serve with hot white rice, noodles, or veggie noodles. Veggie noodles, you ask? Yes, a thousand times yes! But veggie noodles deserve a solo post of me gushing over them, so let’s save that for a different conversation. If you’re looking for a low-carb option, do yourself a favor, if you haven’t already had eggroll in a bowl, make this ASAP! But back to the sauce, the recipe as written is regular saucy. Double if you want very saucy.
What really flavors both the beef and the sauce, in a big way, is sesame oil. A little stretches far because it has such a solid foundation, which is perfect because even though you’re not adding a lot of fat, every drop of fat, is PACKED with strong, bold punches that make this dish taste even better than takeout. Most major grocery stores now sell sesame oil in the ethnic foods section. If you don’t have it on hand or can’t find it, use an oil that has a high burning point, like canola or vegetable oil. *Tip for storing sesame oil: always store sesame oil in the refrigerator once opened; it will stay fresh longer and won’t become rancid.
Broccoli and beef is also the perfect meal for a quick weeknight dinner. Start to finish, it’s ready in half an hour, including all the prep work. So bust out that late 90s Pandora playlist and do a happy dance ?. If you’re using pre-cut, frozen broccoli florets (not chopped broccoli, please), then you’ve already taken another shortcut and shaved off 5 minutes. Speaking of broccoli, my munchkins are broccoli lovers. They wanted to know if I could make a dish of just the sauce and broccoli next time. What would that be called; broccoli and broccoli?
I used thinly sliced beef chuck because that’s what I had on hand but thinly sliced flank steak, sliced against the grain, is ideal. When I say against the grain, I mean, take a look at the way the muscles run in the steak, usually lengthwise. Slice widthwise, into about 1/4-inch strips. It helps to freeze the steak for 2o minutes beforehand. Please don’t slice a fully frozen steak; you’ll end up damaging your knives and possibly yourself. So take my word for it and JUST. DON’T. TRY. IT. Because I care about you, my dear, wonderful internet friend, I will give you that wisdom on the house.
- 1 lb thinly sliced beef (preferably flank steak)
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp plus additional, 1 tsp sesame oil divided
- 2 –3 cups fresh or frozen cut broccoli florets
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 inch grated ginger (1–2 tsp)
- 1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
- 1–2 green onions, chopped (optional)
- 4 cups cooked white rice or noodles (optional)
- MAKE THE SAUCE: combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 cup water, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic in a medium bowl and whisk together. Add 3 tbsp of sauce to meat and set aside. Mix 1 cup cold water with cornstarch and stir into remaining sauce. Set aside.
- COOK THE BEEF: In a wok or heavy bottomed pan, heat 1 tbsp sesame oil on high heat. AWhen the oil is almost smoking, add onion and cook for 1 minute. Add beef and stir to combine. Cook for 5-8 mins until meat is seared on all sides and onion is caramelized. Add broccoli and saute until broccoli is tender but still crisp, about 5-8 minutes. Add sauce and cornstarch mixture and toss to coat. The sauce will thicken quickly. If it is drying out, add 1/4 cup water at a time, until sauce reaches desired consistency. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- GARNISH and SERVE: top with chopped green onion and sesame seeds, if desired. Serve with white rice or noodles, if desired.