A Chinese takeout favourite, beef with black bean sauce is packed with flavour, moreish and the perfect healthy weeknight dinner! For that mouthwatering juicy beef bites, make sure to marinate the beef for at least 15 minutes.
- Beef for stir-frying beef strips can be found at most major supermarkets or from your local butcher. Otherwise, any tender beef cuts will work perfectly! I used rump when shooting for this recipe, other options include sirloin (porterhouse), flanks, fillet and rib eye.
- Fermented black beans (aka salted black beans) are made of black soybeans that have been fermented in salt and thus are quite salty. It adds incredible umami (savoury) flavour to dishes. It is the key ingredient to a black bean sauce which can be added to stir-fries (like this beef with black bean sauce recipe!) and steamed dishes (like dim sum/yum cha steamed pork spare ribs with black bean sauce).
- Fermented black beans are found at Asian grocers otherwise, most major supermarkets sell black bean sauce in jars in the Asian or international isles.
- Shaoxing wine is a very common and widely used Chinese cooking wine made of fermented rice. Can be substituted with dry sherry.
- Cornstarch is added to the beef marinade which helps create a flavoursome, glossy coating around the beef. This glossy coating help keep the beef nice and juicy so it's a must!
Step by step instructions
First, you want to prepare the ingredients and have them ready, within arms reach before cooking begins. This will just make the entire stir-frying process nice and smooth! Things move quick!
Get the ingredients ready
Make sure to cut the vegetables in similar sizes as the beef strips to allow for even cooking and easy to eat.
Combine beef strips with soy sauce, shaoxing wine, brown sugar, black pepper and cornstarch. Marinate the beef for at least 15 minutes (up to 24 hours) to allow the flavours to sip into the beef. The salt content will help flavour the beef (and tenderise if marinated for at least 1 hour) and cornstarch help with locking the juices in the beef. Very important!
To make super tender beef like those at your favourite Chinese restaurant or takeout, you can add a little baking soda to the marinade. This is referred to as the 'velveting' technique.
Baking soda is not used in this recipe as a tender cut of beef is used. The velveting technique is particularly helpful when using a cheap cut of meat (those that are good for slow cooking) such as chuck to stir fry.
This is what these salty black beans look like and come in plastic packets.
Growing up, wherever possible, we'd always make our own sauces from scratch as opposed to buying premade sauces. I find premade sauces tend to be weaker in flavour and not as intense as homemade! If you can, buy these salty black beans. It's really easy to use and really affordable (this pack was around $1.50AUD).
Now stir fry
This part happens very quickly. First, you want to bring out (or awaken) the flavours of the salted black beans. Sizzle garlic, ginger and black beans with a little oil on medium heat until really fragrant.
I like to crush about half of the beans with the back of the spatula to help the flavours release, intensify and caramelise. The other half is left as whole for a pop of that black bean umami flavour when eating.
Once fragrant, add marinated beef strips and spread them out in a single layer to sizzle on high heat for 1 minute, turning once. This will caramelise and seal the beef strips. Remove beef then saute vegetables for about 2 minutes.
Add beef strips back in, some green onions, season with lots of black pepper and a little water. Stir fry for a further minute. That's it!
You'll notice salt is not used in this recipe as the fermented black beans are quite salty already. However, everyone's tastebuds are different so add a little salt if required!
The perfect accompaniment to rice.
Tips for making this perfect every time
- Marinate the beef for at least 15 minutes! Just 15 minutes will help enrich the flavours of the beef strips. The longer the better (up to 24 hours).
- Spread beef strips out to a single layer in the pan, cook undisturbed for 1 minute, turning once on high heat. This will help caramelise and seal the outer surface of the beef. Colour = flavour. Tossing and turning the beef constantly will result in moisture releasing from the beef and stop the sizzling!
- Do not overcook the vegetables. 2 minutes of stir-frying is sufficient to cook out the rawness of the vegetable and at the same time, keeping the crunch.
- Add a splash or two of water to help distribute the flavours evenly. Plus the sauce is fantastic with rice! Psst. too much water will dilute the flavours and turning the dish a little flat so don't go overboard!
- Go heavy with the black pepper and/or add some red chilli. A little bit of heat helps elevate the flavours!
Glossy, flavoursome beef with that delicious black bean sauce!
This dish is perfect with beef however the black bean sauce will taste fantastic with lamb strips and chicken as well!
Good to know (FAQs)
Garlic, ginger and onions are the foundation. Other fantastic vegetable options are red or green capsicum (bell peppers), snow peas, broccoli, carrots, baby corns or green beans.
Miso paste is a great alternative. Otherwise, fermented bean curd can be used too. However, these might also not be available if you don't have access to an Asian grocer. Best order online! If all else fails, try my other beef stir fry recipes such as this Ginger Beef and Kale and Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry!
This recipe is also fantastic for meal prepping with rice! Keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container or up to 6 months in the freezer.
Made this recipe? Let me know your thoughts or questions by dropping a note in the comments section below! I'd love to hear from you 🙂
Happy cooking and eating! - Gen
Beef with Black Bean Sauce
- 500 g / 1lb beef strips (note 1)
- 1 red capsicum (pepper) green is okay too
- 1 onion thickly sliced
- 1 tbsp fermented black beans (note 2)
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 thumb size ginger cut into matchsticks
- 1 sprig green onion cut into 5cm/2inch long
- Optional: red chilli for extra heat, finely diced
- 2 tbsp oil neutral-tasting, eg canola or sunflower
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- ½ tbsp cornstarch
- black pepper
- Combine beef strips with beef marinade, mix well. Marinate for at least 15 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- When ready to cook, add 1 tbsp of oil and ginger in a large non-stick pan or wok. Cook on medium heat for 30 seconds then add garlic and fermented black beans. Cook for a further minute, stirring continuously. (note 3)
- Add marinated beef strips into the pan, spreading beef out to a single layer. Turn the heat up to high, cook undisturbed, turning once. (note 4) Remove beef from the pan into a bowl and set aside.
- Add remaining 1 tbsp of oil, white parts of green onion, capsicum (bell peppers), onions and chilli (if using). Stir fry on high heat for 2 minutes.
- Add beef back into the pan, along with all the juices. Add green parts of green onion, green parts of green onion and ~¼ cup of water. Stir fry for 30 seconds on high heat.
- Taste, adjust for salt and pepper to taste (if required).
- Serve immediately with some freshly cooked rice!