Kung Pao Beef is a Chinese stir fry dish that is made with tender beef, vivid veggies, crunchy peanuts, and a sweet and savoury sauce. This recipe is the ideal healthy alternative for the takeaway food . If you are a fan of spicy Chinese food, then kung pao beef is a good choice for you.
What is Kung Pao Beef?
The Kung Pao Beef sauce has a strong flavour that is spicy, slightly sweet, and sour. It is made with soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. It has a smooth and slightly thick texture.
Kung Pao Beef is an authentic popular Chinese stir fry dish that is loaded with Asian flavours. People sometimes mix between Kung Pao Beef and Mongolian beef. In my opinion, they are totally different as Mongolian beef is not spicy at all, and unlike Kung Pao Beef, it isn’t made with veggies.
Why this recipe works?
- It is customizable
- It can stay fresh in the fridge for 4-5 days.
- Suitable for meal prep
- Freezes so well
- A good alternative for the takeaway
What's in Kung Pao Beef?
- Cooking Oil: Use any oil you have; cooking oil or olive oil.
- Flank Steak: You can put the steak in the freezer for an hour before slicing it, so that it will firm up and allow you to slice it thinly.
- Onion: freshly chopped
- Garlic: use three minced cloves of garlic.
- Corn Starch: To coat the beef and give it a smooth texture, and also to thicken the sauce.
- Peanuts: The best option is roasted unsalted peanuts; you can replace them with cashews.
- Green and Red Bell Peppers: You can replace them with any veggies you like, such as carrots, celery, or zucchini.
- Red Chillies: This recipe calls for dried red chillies; however, you can use fresh if you like. Cut them into halves (use more or less to change the heat level to your preference). You can replace it with ½ tablespoon sriracha sauce or ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper.
- Seasoning: salt and pepper for taste
For the Sauce:
- Soy Sauce: The best option is a low-sodium soy sauce to make sure the dish will not be salty.
- Granulated Sugar: You can replace it with honey if you like.
- Corn Starch: It helps in thickening the sauce
- Sesame Oil: It adds a nice flavour to this recipe.
- Water: To dissolve the corn starch
How to make Kung Pao Beef?
Preparing the Beef: Slice the beef into thin strips, then mix with corn starch, salt, and ground black pepper. Make sure all the meat slices are covered well with the corn starch mixture.
Cooking the Steak: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then put the steak slices in a single layer. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until they become golden brown.
Transfer the meat to a bowl, cover it, and set it aside.
Preparing the Veggies: In the same skillet, add red and green bell peppers and onions. Cook on medium to low heat for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
Return the meat back to the skillet with the veggies, add the red chillies and the peanuts, stir.
Making the Sauce: Mix all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl then pour over the steak. Bring it to a boil and simmer until the sauce is thickened then turn off the heat.
- If you can't find flank steak, that is fine; you can use another meat such as sirloin. It will work fine.
- This recipe works for other kinds of meat as well, such as chicken (Kung Pao Chicken), turkey, scallop, or shrimp.
- The red chillies are the source of heat in this recipe. I recommend adjusting the heat level of this recipe according to your preferences. If you follow this recipe, you will find it has moderate heat; however, if you want to reduce the heat more, you can de-seed the red chillies prior to cooking. If you want it spicier, that is easy; just add more red chilli.
- You can add any vegetables you like to this dish, such as peas, celery, zucchini, corn, or mushrooms.
- You can substitute bell pepper with celery, peas, or green bean (anything you have).
- If you don't like to use the red chilli, you can replace it with ½ tbsp of sriracha sauce.
- You can add 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce to the Kung Pao Beef sauce ingredients for extra flavour.
- You can garnish the Kung Pao Beef with some chopped spring onion if you like (optional).
How to roast the peanuts?
Put the peanuts in a single layer on a baking sheet, then bake at 180C for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure to watch them so they don’t become burnt.
How to store, freeze, and reheat Kung Pao Beef?
Storing: This dish will stay fresh for 4-5 days in the fridge; just put it in a well-sealed container.
Freezing: Put it in a freezer-safe container and freeze for 2-3 months.
Reheating: Let it thaw at room temperature, then microwave for 2 minutes or bring it to a simmer over low heat.
Is there a substitution for roasted peanuts?
Roasted peanuts are an amazing addition to this recipe; try not to skip it as long as it doesn't do any harm to you. However, if you have to replace it with something, you can use cashews instead.
Can I make this dish vegetarian?
Yes, you can if you replaced the steak with mushrooms.
Is Kung Pao Beef healthy?
Stir fry dishes are much healthier than deep fry dishes. This dish is not deep-fried; you only use a little amount of oil in making it (2 tablespoons). It is made with meat and veggies and you can increase the amount of veggies to your liking.
Kung Pao Beef usually serves on top of white or fried rice. However, you can serve it with bread, pasta, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, or salad.
More Dinner Recipes:
More Meat Dishes
Kung Pao Beef
- Preparing the Beef: Slice the beef into thin strips, then mix with corn starch, salt, and ground black pepper. Make sure all the meat slices are covered well with the corn starch mixture.
- Cooking the Steak: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then put the steak slices in a single layer. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until they become golden brown.
- Transfer the meat to a bowl, cover it, and set it aside.
- Preparing the Veggies: In the same skillet, add red and green bell peppers and onions. Cook on medium to low heat for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
- Return the meat back to the skillet with the veggies, add the red chillies, stir.
- Making the Sauce: Mix all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl then pour over the steak. Bring it to a boil and simmer until the sauce is thickened then turn off the heat.
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