January 25

Sweet Beef Stir Fry

I love stir fry and basically any sort of meal that combines a meat with vegetables in one cohesive sauce over a starch of some sort. I’m also a big fan of rice and noodles. So it only makes sense that a meal like this is often consumed in our household.

Actually, that’s a wee lie. We don’t eat a whole lot of homemade stir fry. Mainly because it’s an art I’ve been attempting to perfect over the years. My past idea of stir fry was basically cooking some kind of meat in a hot skillet, adding a bit of soy sauce and pepper, and wondering why it didn’t taste like heaven. When you don’t cook with these ingredients on a regular basis, or know how to properly use them when you do cook with them, you’ll have a bit of a mess on your hands. A tasteless mess. In the last, oh, I don’t know, six months (?), I’ve been working to become something of a stir fry goddess in the kitchen. Not that I ever have anyone to cook for other than The Fellow™ and me, but it’s still fun to challenge myself. Plus, using the basic ingredients for a good sauce in other forms for other meals is a good way of seeing what each thing does as an end result. I like experimenting. I’m getting closer to gold.

“Whoa, whoa, wait. Challenge?” you may ask, as if it’s difficult to make a tasty stir fry. While the answer is no, it’s not difficult to make a stir fry, I want to make the be all, end all of stir frys. I am successful when it comes to a lot of different facets of cooking and the more I make this sort of dish, the more confident I have become. I feel less like I need to have a big bottle of Yoshida’s in my fridge to slop all over a poorly cooked piece of meat, or to drown undercooked vegetables and rice (not that I’ve ever bought the stuff), and something simple like a sweet + a salty + an acidic + other fun flavor blasts can make carrots and broccoli magical.

In using beef and chicken, I’ve found that marinading the protein of choice adds flavor by leaps and bounds, versus throwing bare meat into the pan to splash in some freshly made sauce. Shrimp, not so much. Don’t be alarmed if your beef turns near-black after it has sat in the marinade for more than a few hours. Another thing of note – in case you didn’t know – make sure to have some sort of acid in the marinade/sauce. I chose rice wine vinegar, but lime or lemon juice works just as well and impart a completely different taste.

Sweet Beef Stir Fry

Sweet Beef Stir Fry


1 pound skirt or flank steak
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
fresh ground pepper and salt to taste
4 Tablespoons butter
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 cup leeks, diced
1 1/2 cups haricot vert or snap peas
sesame seeds


1. Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, rice wine, garlic, and ginger together in a medium sized bowl. Cut raw steak into bite size pieces and stick in the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to soak for up to a day.

2. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat (you can add a little sesame oil if desired) . Toss in garlic and leeks and saute until leeks start to become tender and turn brown. Add in haricot vert/snap peas and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add in carrots and broccoli. Cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove vegetables from the skillet and toss the steak and sauce into the hot skillet. Cook until desired doneness (medium is always good). Sauce should thicken a little. Return the cooked vegetables to the pan and stir together, making sure to coat them with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with sesame seeds. If you find the sauce is too sweet, add a little more pepper and soy sauce.

4. Serve over rice or noodles.