Homemade Chinese Beef and Broccoli in a light ginger garlic sauce with crispy beef is even better than takeout!
No, you aren’t on the wrong blog. This is still What Jew Wanna Eat! But you may be familiar with the longstanding Jewish tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas. When I started this blog, I decided to make homemade Chinese food each year, and 10 years later this tradition still stands! Sometimes I put twists on recipes, like Egg Drop Matzo Ball Soup and Pastrami Fried Rice with Pickled Cabbage. But today, it’s my husband’s amazing homemade Beef and Broccoli!
Why do Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas?
Good question! Like many Jewish questions, there isn’t just one answer. The tradition started in the early 1900s. Some say it is because Chinese restaurants were one of the only things open on Christian holidays like Christmas. Similarly, while Jews were not welcome everywhere, they were welcome to dine in Chinese restaurants with open arms. Especially with the proximity of the Lower East Side to Chinatown in New York.
Others say the lack of dairy in Chinese recipes made it popular amongst Jews. And still, others say that the sauces and small diced recipes often hid pork and shellfish, and some kosher keeping Jewish said, well, out of sight out of mind. Or something like that.
Either way, I love this tradition and we grew up getting Chinese food and a movie every year! We also volunteered on Christmas, usually in a soup kitchen. With these traditions, I never felt like I was missing out on Christmas. You can have your eggnog.
Everyone always comments that my husband is lucky to be married to someone who loves to cook, but I am the lucky one! My husband makes super delicious and authentic Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese food, which is especially amazing since we can’t find this kind of cuisine so easily in Puerto Rico. His Beef and Broccoli is one of my favorites! The sauce is surprisingly light, and the beef is soft with a crispy exterior. We love the added texture. He has perfected the recipe over the years, and we eat it often.
I took a break in photographing to watch the sunset.
I’ll apologize for the dark photos. We eat this dish for dinner, so I tried to photograph it as my husband was cooking but the sunset beat us! Foiled again.
Chinese Beef and Broccoli
- 1 pound beef (in Puerto Rico we use churrasco which is a skirt steak. You can also use tenderloin or tri tip.), sliced against the grain into 2" x 1/2" strips.
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, sliced thin
- ½ tsp meat tenderizer (or substitute baking soda with 1/4 tsp salt)
- 1 tbsp dark sesame oil
- 1 pound broccoli, with the stems trimmed into batons and florets sliced off
- 8 oz (1 can) bamboo shoots
- 3 oz carrots sliced into 1 1/2 inch strips
- 1 cup canola oil or other high smoke oil
- ½ cup potato starch
- 2 tbsp minced ginger
- ½ cup minced garlic
- 3 tbsp oyster sauce (Amazon sells kosher oyster sauce)
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp potato starch
- 1 tbsp dark sesame oil
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
Make the beef marinade.
- Place the sliced beef, ginger, meat tenderizer and sesame oil in a large ziplock bag and toss to combine. Marinate for at least 20 minutes or up to 2 hours. The meat tenderizer creates the soft texture Chinese food meat is known for, but you can substitute 1/2 tsp aking soda plus 1/4 tsp salt instead.
- When your beef is ready, heat a dry wok (or large saute pan) over high heat. Add the trimmed broccoli stems and cook for a minute. Then add the broccoli florets and cook for a few minutes. Add the bamboo and carrots and cook until they start to char.
- Once the vegetables start to char, add 1 tablspoon canola or other high smokepoint oil and cook until the vegetables are charred and cook through, about 7-8 minutes.
- Remove the vegetables from the pan.
- Add the 1/2 cup of potato starch to the bag of meat and shake it up to coat. Set up a cooling rack by the stovetop.
- Heat up 1 cup of canola oil in the wok over high heat. Fry the beef in batches with the ginger pieces. and place on the rack to cook when they are done.
Let's get saucy.
- Remove all the oil from the wok except 2 tablespoons and let cool. Add in the 2 tablespoons minced ginger and 1/2 cup minced garlic and sweat over low heat.
- Add in the oyster sauce, brown sugar and black pepper and adjust to taste.
- Add the 1/2 teaspoon potato starch to 1 cup water to make a slurry. Add it to the sauce while stirring vigorously until the sauce is thick. Then add in 1 tablespoon sesame oil. You should have a thick, shiny, slightly sticky sauce.
- Increase the heat to high heat and add the vegetables back in and coat in the sauce. Then add half the beef in- we add it last so it stays crispy- just to coat. Save half the beef for the top if you like for extra crispy pieces.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and serve with rice of you like.