cumin beef

spices and aromatics

Another recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, and this one is really a keeper. We were introduced to cumin lamb and beef at our old favorite (and much missed) Chinese restaurant Szechuan Bistro, and ordered it nearly every time we went there, but never tried to make it ourselves. Since the Greenwood arsonist burned the place down, we haven’t been able to get it anywhere locally. Now, well…I may not be able to reproduce their spicy green beans with tofu as yet, but at least I can have cumin beef. Any time I want!


Part of why this was so successful was the beef. The recipe suggested sirloin, so I hunted out a package from the freezer, from our half-cow from Skagit Angus. All of the beef we’ve gotten from them has been spectacular, but this was particularly excellent – chewy but very very tender, with a full beef flavor and a nice amount of fat marbled throughout. One of the best tasting pieces of meat I’ve ever had. Dumping a lot of cumin and hot chiles on it didn’t hurt it at all, though.

We served this on Japanese-style white rice, with a lot of stir-fried kale on the side to cut the richness of the meat. I also used some of the leftover beef to make a sandwich with roasted peppers, which I can also recommend highly. God,  I’m making myself hungry.

Cumin Beef

adapted from the Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop


  • 1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 1 pound sirloin, cut into thin slices
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 hot green chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp dried chile flakes
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • sesame oil

Combine the beef in a bowl with the marinade ingredients and mix well.

Original recipe instruction: heat 2 cups of peanut oil in a wok to 275°. Add the beef and stir gently. As soon as the pieces have separated, removed them from othe oil and drain well. Set aside. Pour out all but a few spoonfuls of the oil.

What I did: put a wok over high heat and add 1/4 cup of peanut oil. Add the beef in batches, stirfrying briefly until it begins to color and the pieces separate. Remove from the wok and set aside. Add a spoonful or two of fresh oil to the pan.

Then: Bring the wok back up to high heat and add the ginger, garlic, chiles, chile flakes and cumin. Fry briefly until fragrant, then add all the beef back in and stir well. When it’s cooked as much as you want (I left my beef a little rare), add the scallions, pour in a bit of sesame oil and serve with rice.


2 thoughts on “cumin beef

    1. I was impressed at how straightforward it was to make, but so delicious! I’m a huge fan of cumin, though, so maybe I’m easily pleased.

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