Perfect homemade Chinese-style beef in black bean sauce - it's rich and delicious - full of umami flavour.
I'm going to show you how to make the most tender velvet beef - even using a cheap cut of beef, and also how to make your own black bean sauce.
If you're short on time, I've included a shortcut, using shop-bought sauce too!
I love the savoury, rich taste of beef in black bean sauce, Although it takes a little bit more effort to make than other stir fry recipes (especially when you're making your own black bean sauce), it's actually very simple.
The sauce can be made ahead, or you can make it as part of this recipe (apart from the hour needed to soak the beans, the rest of the sauce comes together in minutes).
We're also going to use a simple hack to tenderise or 'velvet' the beef, so it's lovely and soft - just like you'd get in a Chinese restaurant.
📋 What do we need?
For the black bean sauce
(or replace with 250ml of shop-bought black bean sauce)
- The black bean sauce is made by first soaking fermented black beans (<-- affiliate link) in water for an hour.
- Then we rinse and drain the beans and give them a bit of a mush up with a fork.
- Next we fry up garlic, ginger and the black beans in a little sesame oil and neutral oil.
- Add in rice wine, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, pepper and stock and bring to the boil.
- Simmer the sauce for 5 minutes, before stirring in a little cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce.
- That sauce is now ready to use.
I've written a full post on black bean sauce if you want more info about the sauce and fermented black beans.
For the beef
- I use rump steak, sliced thinly, against the grain.
- We velvetise the beef by mixing it with 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.
- Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Rinse the beef in cold water to remove the bicarb.
- Pat dry with paper towels and use as per your recipe.
I've written a full post on how to velvet beef if you want more info about the process, how it works and why you should do it.
The rest of the stir-fry ingredients
Now the black bean sauce is made and beef is tenderised, we bring it all together with the rest of the ingredients.
- Season the tenderised beef in black pepper and a little pinch of salt (we don't need much salt as the sauce is salty enough).
- Fry the beef in a little oil. I like to use a mixture of sesame oil and neutral oil (such as avocado or rapeseed).
- Add in chunky pieces of onion and peppers and fry for a further couple of minutes.
- Add in the black bean sauce and heat through for a minute.
- Serve with rice. I like to sprinkle a few chopped spring onions (scallions) and mixed sesame seeds on top too.
📺 Watch how to make it
Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.
👩🍳PRO TIP When you're squishing up the fermented beans for the black bean sauce, leave some whole, to you get those nice black-bean speckles in the stir fry.
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Beef in black bean sauce
Black Bean Sauce:
- 4 tablespoons fermented black beans
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 tablespoon Shaoxing Chinese rice wine - or use dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons granulated or caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 180 ml ¾ cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch in USA) - mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water to form a slurry
- 400 g (14 oz) beef steak - sliced into thin strips, against the grain *see note 1
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed/avocado or other neutral oil
- 1 onion - peeled and chopped into chunky pieces
- 1 red bell pepper - deseeded and chopped into chunky pieces
- 1 green bell pepper - deseeded and chopped into chunky pieces
- Boiled rice
- Sliced spring onions - scallions
- Mixed sesame seeds
Soaking the black beans:
- Start by soaking the fermented black beans. Place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for one hour.4 tablespoons fermented black beans
Velveting the beef:
- Now velvet the beef. Place the beef in a bowl and sprinkle over the bicarbonate of soda.400 g (14 oz) beef steak, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- Rub the bicarbonate of soda into the beef so it’s thoroughly coated.
- Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Thoroughly rinse the beef in cold water, drain, then pat dry with kitchen towels. Place in a bowl, ready to use in your stir fry.
Making the black bean sauce:
- Once the beans have soaked for an hour, drain and thoroughly rinse them.
- Place the drained black beans in a bowl and give them a bit of a mash with the back of a fork. I like to mash up about three-quarters and leave the rest whole.
- Add the sesame and rapeseed oil to a small saucepan. Heat over a medium heat.1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
- Add the garlic, ginger and black beans and fry for one minute, stirring often, until fragrant.3 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- Add the rice wine, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, pepper and stock.2 tablespoon Shaoxing Chinese rice wine - or use dry sherry, 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons granulated or caster sugar, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, 180 ml ¾ cup chicken or vegetable stock
- Stir together, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, until slightly reduced.
- Stir in half the cornflour slurry to thicken the sauce. Add more if you'd like the sauce thicker, then turn off the heat.1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch in USA)
Bringing it all together:
- Toss the tenderised beef in the salt and pepper.1 pinch of salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Heat the two oils oil in a wok over a high heat.1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon rapeseed/avocado or other neutral oil
- Add the beef and fry, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, until the beef is just cooked.
- Add the onion, red and green peppers and fry for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until slightly softened.1 onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper
- Add the black bean sauce, fry, stirring often, for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce is heated through.
- Serve over boiled rice, topped with spring onions and sesame seeds.Boiled rice, Sliced spring onions, Mixed sesame seeds
If you don't want to velvet the beef, but you still want tender, juicy meat, you'll need to go with a more expensive cut of steak - such as ribeye or sirloin. Slice the steak into thin strips, against the grain, before using. Nutritional information is approximate, per serving (this recipe serves 4) - NOT INCLUDING the rice.
Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.