Hunan beef is a mouth-watering stir fry dish with marinated strips of beef stir fried with sliced peppers in a flavorful sauce, ideal for spicy food lovers.
Easy Hunan Beef Recipe
We're cooking up a delicious stir fry in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen tonight, my friends. As a spicy food lover, you're going to love this one.
Stir fries are great for those whose palates prefer a bit of spicy heat and flavor, as they often include lots of peppers as well as a warming mix of spices and other ingredients.
This particular stir fry is a Chinese classic from the Hunan region, which is known for its heat and flavor.
It's called Hunan Beef. You may have enjoyed this dish at your local Chinese restaurant, or from Chinese takeout. I enjoy making mine at home, as I can adjust the heat and peppers to my preference.
What is Hunan Beef?
Hunan Beef is a spicy stir fry dish from Hunan, China. The dish is prepared with strips of beef that have been marinated for flavor, then stir fried over high heat with a mix of chilies and vegetables in a hot and sour sauce.
It is a very customizable dish for the home cook, allowing you to control not only the vegetables you prefer, but also the level of spices and heat to suit your personal desired.
Is Hunan Beef Spicy?
Authentic Hunan Beef is a spicy dish because of the inclusion of a fermented chili paste called doubanjiang, as well as its liberal use of hot chilies. However, you can easily control the level of heat by adjusting the ingredient ratios, and by adding or subtracting hot peppers to suit your own preference.
This way, you can make it as mild or as spicy as you'd like.
Let's talk about how to make Hunan Beef, shall we?
Hunan Beef Ingredients
- FOR THE BEEF
- Soy Sauce.
- Sesame Oil.
- Shaoxing Rice Wine. You can use other rice wine, or use rice vinegar.
- Flank Steak. You can use other cuts of beef. I enjoy this with thin slices of ribeye.
- FOR THE HUNAN SAUCE
- Soy Sauce.
- Oyster Sauce.
- Doubanjiang. Doubanjiang is a Chinese chili bean paste made from fermented soybeans, broad beans, and hot chilies. You can sub in another chili paste, or sambal oelek.
- Shaoxing Rice Wine.
- Sesame Oil.
- Sugar. Or use honey.
- Beef Broth. Or you can use water.
- Chili Flakes.
- Corn Starch Slurry.
- FOR THE HUNAN BEEF DISH
- Corn Starch.
- Vegetable Oil.
- Chili Peppers. I'm using red bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, and dried chiles de arbol. You can use other hotter peppers, or find other dried Chinese peppers.
- Vegetables. Garlic and ginger, for flavor. You can easily use other vegetables in this classic stir fry dish.
- Salt and Black Pepper. To taste.
- For Serving. Chopped green onion, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, cooked rice or noodles.
How to Make Hunan Beef - the Recipe Method
Marinate the Beef. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine. Add the beef and stir to cover. Marinate for 30 minutes.
You can marinate the beef longer if you'd like for more flavor penetration.
Make the Hunan Beef Sauce. Whisk together the spicy sauce ingredients – soy sauce, oyster sauce, doubanjiang, rice wine, sesame oil, sugar, beef broth, chili flakes, and corn starch slurry - in a small bowl and set aside.
Coat the Beef. Add the corn starch to a large bowl with salt and pepper to taste and add the beef. Toss the beef to evenly coat each piece.
Stir Fry the Beef. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a large wok or pan to high heat. Add the coated beef slices and cook, stirring, until browned and crispy. Do this in batches if needed. Should take 2-3 minutes. Remove the beef and set aside.
Stir Fry the Peppers. Heat the remaining vegetable oil in the wok and add the peppers. Stir fry for 5-6 minutes to soften.
Garlic and Ginger. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir fry for 1 minute.
Finish It Up! Add the beef back to the pan and stir in the sauce. Stir to coat the ingredients and thicken the sauce, 1-2 minutes more.
Garnish and serve. You can enjoy it on its own, or serve with steamed rice or prepared noodles.
Boom! Done! Your Hunan Beef is ready to serve. Quick and easy recipe, isn't it? Done so fast! Look at all those peppers!
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Give your beef strips some extra marinating time for more flavor penetration. Get it going in the morning, or overnight.
- Get your wok or pan good and hot, which will cook your beef and peppers (and other vegetables) more quickly, a key technique in stir frying.
What Vegetables are in Hunan Beef?
Hunan beef focuses on the use of chili peppers, often using a variety of both fresh and dried pods to infuse the dish with flavor and a touch of heat. However, you can make your dish with any popular stir fry vegetables.
Some common vegetables used in Chinese cooking to consider include snow peas, winter radish, long beans, bok choy and cabbage.
Feel free to include any and all of your favorite vegetables, such as carrots, scallions, broccoli, baby corn, or others.
When it comes to stir fries, they are very forgiving with vegetables.
Hunan Beef Vs Szechuan Beef
While quite similar in many ways, Hunan Beef differs from Szechuan Beef in a few different ways. Szechuan Beef includes Sichuan peppercorns, which offer a tongue-numbing sensation characteristic of Sichuan cuisine.
Hunan Beef tends to use less sauce, and includes the flavors of black bean paste or doubanjiang, which is a fermented paste made from chili peppers and soy beans.
Both dishes are delicious in their focus on chilies and spiciness.
Hunan Beef will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container. To enjoy it again, gently warm it in a hot pan, or in a microwave.
You can also freeze it for 2-3 months in vacuum sealed bags or containers.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my Hunan Beef recipe. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you, and if you decided to spice it up!
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Hunan Beef Recipe
FOR THE BEEF
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or use other rice wine
- 1 pound flank steak thinly sliced (you can use other cuts – see recipe notes)
FOR THE HUNAN BEEF SAUCE
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons doubanjiang or use a chili paste, like sambal oelek
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar or use honey
- 1/2 cup beef broth or use water
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water to form a slurry
FOR THE HUNAN BEEF DISH
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
- 1 large red bell pepper sliced
- 1-2 jalapeno peppers sliced (optional, or use other hot peppers)
- 5-6 dried chiles de arbol or more, as desired - or use other dried Chinese peppers
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
- For Serving: Chopped green onion, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, cooked rice or noodles.
MARINATE THE BEEF
- In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine. Add the beef and stir to cover. Marinate for 30 minutes.
MAKE THE HUNAN BEEF SAUCE
- Whisk together the sauce ingredients – soy sauce, oyster sauce, doubanjiang, rice wine, sesame oil, sugar, beef broth, chili flakes, and corn starch slurry - in a small bowl and set aside.
MAKE THE HUNAN BEEF
- Add the corn starch to a large bowl with salt and pepper to taste and add the beef. Toss the beef to evenly coat each piece.
- Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a large wok or pan to high heat. Add the coated beef and cook, stirring, until browned and crispy. Do this in batches if needed. Should take 2-3 minutes. Remove the beef and set aside.
- Heat the remaining vegetable oil in the wok and add the peppers. Stir fry for 5-6 minutes to soften.
- Add the garlic and ginger. Stir fry for 1 minute.
- Add the beef back to the pan and stir in the sauce. Stir to coat the ingredients and thicken the sauce, 1-2 minutes more.
- Garnish and serve.
- Nutritional information estimated without rice or noodles.
- Feel free to use a variety of chili peppers for this dish. It will work with any of your favorites.
- Consider adding other vegetables, such as carrots, bok choy, scallions, broccoli, baby corn, or others.