sichuan dry-fried beef


Posts have been a bit irregular of late, I’m afraid, due to a houseful of head colds. More time has been spent on the couch under a layer of cats than on the computer. However, here’s a recipe that I happen to have ready to go: a stirfry of beef and celery from a Sichuanese cookbook which will really knock your socks off. Chile-bean paste is a very delightful thing. Good for the sinuses.

celery strips
ginger and scallion strips

Part of the key to this recipe is cutting all the ingredients into similar long, fine slivers. Allow plenty of time for prep (especially cutting up the beef), but the cooking won’t take very long at all. Make plenty of white rice to go with it, and perhaps a side of greens – the flavor is very strong and savory.

Sichuan peppercorns
stirfrying beef

Dry Fried Beef

from Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop

  • 1 pound lean beef, cut into fine slivers
  • 4 celery stalks
  • salt
  • 1 1/2 inches fresh ginger
  • 2 scallions, white parts only
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 Tbsp sherry
  • 2 heaping spoonfuls chile bean paste
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground toasted Sichuan pepper

Remove the outer strings from the celery and cut it into thin julienne about 3 inches long, and mix it with a little salt. Set aside. Peel the ginger and cut it and the scallions into fine slivers.

Heat the oil in a wok until smoking, add the beef and stirfry constantly for about ten minutes. The beef will release its liquid and the oil will be cloudy, but as the water evaporates the oil will clear and the beef will begin to get crispy. Splash the sherry around the edges of the beef.

Turn the heat to medium, push the beef up onto one side of the wok, and add the chile bean paste to the oil in the bottom of the wok. Fry for 30 seconds, then add the ginger and scallions and mix everything up with the beef. Add the celery, soy sauce and salt to taste, and continue cooking until the celery is just done. Mix in the sesame oil, sprinkle over the Sichuan pepper, and serve with plenty of white rice.


5 thoughts on “sichuan dry-fried beef

  1. Wonderful dish, but not normally found in restaurants, though I first had it at PF Chang’s (Beef a la Sichuan). I made a variation tonight which adds a sweet red pepper to the dish which complements the spiciness.

    It doesn’t appear that you’ve cooked the beef enough, as PF Chang’s and other photos show it to be crispy – and other have described it as being like beef jerky. (It’s still good in any case.)

    Here’s a photo, though it looks like they used too much oil.

    Thanks for your post!

    1. You may be right about the beef’s texture, although we did cook it long enough for some of the pieces to get firm and crispy. I think it would be good at a wide range of textures. We’re planning to make this again soon, so we can experiment.

  2. I repeated the recipe last night, though with Jessamyn off at book club I was just cooking for one, and I tried using pork instead of beef. I also tried cooking it longer, to get more of that crispy texture. Perhaps it was the change from beef to pork, perhaps the fact that I was scaling down the quantities to cook for one, or perhaps an inadequately organized mise, but rather than ending up crispier, it ended up slightly burnt. It was still tasty, but not as tasty as our first attempt.

    1. I didn’t think pork could handle the extended cooking time to create a crispy texture. I guess it’s easy to create dried out pork chops too.

      I found a recipe I had photocopied you might enjoy with pork that appears similar to Sichuan Dry-Fried Beef. It even includes sichuan peppercorn.

      ‘Two Onion Pork Shreds’

      I believe it was in a Chinese cookbook, but I didn’t note the book title.

      I hope it turns out better for you next time.

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