Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pepper Steak

When we hear Pepper Steak, we usually think of Steak au Poivre, a juicy filet mignon generously seasoned with cracked peppercorns, pan-fried and dressed in a brandy and cream reduction.   Equally as delicious but “oh! so different!” is the Cantonese stir-fried version of sliced beef and bell peppers in a pungent black bean and garlic sauce.  This dish goes great with a fruity Zinfandel!

Pepper Steak

1 – 1 ¼ lbs flank steak or other tender beef steak
1  Tbls. cornstarch
2  tsp. soy sauce
1 ¼ Tbls. Chinese cooking wine or cooking sherry
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2  Tbls. light olive or vegetable oil
3  slices fresh ginger root
2-3  cloves garlic, smashed and rough cut
1 ½ Tbls. black bean and garlic sauce


1  medium yellow onion
2-3 bell peppers (green is traditional but any combination works)

Vegetable oil
Sesame seed oil (optional)

Gravy Slurry

1   Tbls. Cornstarch
1   tsp. soy sauce
1   Tbls. oyster sauce (optional)
½   cup chicken broth or water

 Start the rice cooking if serving with steamed rice.

Prepare the beef:  Remove excess fat and any membrane on the beef.  Cut steak into lengthwise strips about 2” wide.  Cut each strip a generous 1/4” thick across the grain at a 45 degree angle with the top of the knife slanting toward your fingers that are holding the steak as you slice. Put sliced beef into a medium bowl, add marinade ingredients and mix together.  Set aside, remixing occasionally.

Cut the vegetables: halve bell peppers and remove seeds and ribs.  Cut into 1 ¼” inch chunks.  Peel onion and also cut into 1 ¼” squares.  Mix together in a bowl; set aside.
Prepare the gravy slurry: Combine all slurry ingredients; mix well and set aside.  Cornstarch dissolves easily and settles quickly.  Be sure to remix before using.
Stir-fried dishes cook up fast, so have the components mise en place. When the rice is cooked, over high heat, cover the bottom of a large skillet with cooking oil.  When the oil is shimmering, add the vegetables and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of chicken broth or water, cover, reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 2-3 minutes until vegetables are tender crisp.  Remove from heat, pour the vegetables back into the original bowl and cover with the skillet lid to keep warm.

Clean out skillet if necessary.  Over high heat, cover the bottom of the skillet generously with oil. Re-stir beef and when oil is shimmering, spread the beef covering the bottom of the skillet, creating a single layer.  Cook for about a minute until the underside is brown on the edges.  Turn the beef to cook the other side, about 30-45 seconds.  Add the vegetables, mix well.  Pour in the gravy slurry and continue to mix and cook. The gravy should turn translucent when the cornstarch is cooked.  If the sauce is too thick, add water 2-3 tablespoons at a time to thin.  If the gravy is too thin, cook a little longer, stirring to mix.
Remove from heat and finish with a circle of sesame oil if desired.

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