Hunan-Style Beef Stir-Fry Recipe

The distinguishing characteristic of Hunan cuisine, according to recipe developer Julianne De Witt, is "bold flavors from fresh chile peppers and garlic." She says that the peppers in this Hunan-style stir fry, plus the chili oil in the sauce, give it a medium heat level, although she notes that, of course, "More chiles or oil can be added for a hotter dish." Conversely, you can also use fewer chiles and/or less oil for a milder one. Besides the peppers and garlic, she says this recipe owes much of its flavor to Shaoxing, a wine made of fermented rice (not to be confused with rice vinegar, which is a different ingredient altogether). "It adds depth and complexity," De Witt declaims, but allows, "If you can't get your hands on it, dry cooking sherry makes a good substitute."

De Witt says she likes to use flank steak in her Hunan-style beef stir-fry, explaining,m "It has a rich, meaty flavor and works well when marinated," although she suggests that sirloin and chuck steak make acceptable substitutes. She also notes that a pinch of baking soda added to the marinade helps to make the beef more tender.

Round up the ingredients for the Hunan-style beef stir-fry

The stir-fry itself is made up of steak strips, bell peppers (red and yellow), and scallions, all stir-fried in canola oil and seasoned with Thai chiles, garlic, ginger, and Shaoxing wine. You'll also need baking soda, salt, and pepper for the marinade along with cornstarch, sugar, chili oil, soy sauce, and black bean sauce to make a Hunan-style sauce.

Prepare the produce and marinate the beef

Chop the peppers (including the chiles) and the scallions, then slice up the steak against the grain. De Witt suggests freezing the steak for 15 minutes prior to slicing as she says, "That can make it easier to cut."

Pour 2 tablespoons of soy sauce over the steak strips and sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and baking soda. Rub the mixture into the meat (De Witt uses tongs for this), then let it marinate for 30 minutes. In the meantime, combine the rest of the soy sauce with the black bean sauce, cornstarch, sugar, and chili oil, then set this Hunan sauce aside for the moment.

Stir-fry the beef

Pour the oil into a wok or large frying pan and turn the stove burner to high. Let it get very hot, then add ¼ of the steak strips to the pan and sear them until both sides are browned. Repeat until all of the meat is cooked. Don't try to fry too much meat at once, though, as De Witt warns that if you overcrowd the pan, "The meat will steam rather than sear."

Add the rest of the ingredients

When the last batch of beef strips is done cooking, turn the heat down to medium and fry the ginger until it appears golden. Put the peppers (including the chiles) into the pan along with the scallions and garlic, then fry the vegetables for 2 minutes. Return the beef to the pan along with the wine and Hunan sauce. Crank the burner back up to high, then stir-fry the meaty mixture for 2 minutes or until the sauce has cooked down a bit.

De Witt suggests serving the Hunan beef with steamed rice, although noodles would make a great alternative. You can also go low-carb if you like and skip the starch altogether. Leftovers are good for 3 days in the refrigerator but can be frozen if you prefer. As De Witt advises, though, "Make sure to cool [the stir-fry] completely before storing."

Hunan-Style Beef Stir-Fry Recipe
5 from 26 ratings
This Hunan-style beef stir fry recipe features bold flavors from fresh chile peppers and garlic with Shaoxing which adds depth and complexity to the dish.
Prep Time
Cook Time
stir-fry beef with peppers
Total time: 43 minutes
  • For the Hunan sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili oil
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 2 tablespoons black bean sauce
  • For the marinade
  • 1 pound flank steak, sliced into ¼ inch strips about 2 to 3 inches long
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • For the stir fry
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 3 scallions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Thai chiles, minced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • ¼ cup Shaoxing wine
Optional Ingredients
  • Steamed rice
  1. Add cornstarch, sugar, chili oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and black bean sauce to a small bowl. Whisk to combine ingredients. Set sauce aside.
  2. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the flank steak against the grain. Add steak to a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, salt, pepper, and baking soda to the steak. Using tongs, massage the marinade into the meat. Marinate for 30 minutes.
  4. Dice the peppers and scallions. Mince the Thai chiles and garlic.
  5. Add oil to a wok and place over high heat. Sear the beef in batches on both sides until browned. Set beef aside.
  6. Reduce heat to medium. Add ginger to the wok and fry until golden.
  7. Add peppers, scallions, chilies, and garlic to wok and cook for 2 minutes.
  8. Add wine, beef, and Hunan sauce to wok and stir. Turn the heat to high. Stir fry for 2 minutes or until sauce has reduced.
  9. Hunan-style beef may be eaten with steamed rice if desired.
Calories per Serving 379
Total Fat 20.5 g
Saturated Fat 4.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 77.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 18.2 g
Dietary Fiber 3.2 g
Total Sugars 5.3 g
Sodium 1,028.3 mg
Protein 28.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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