How to make Crispy Chilli Beef, fried beef strips coated in a luscious spicy, sweet and tangy sauce.
How to Fry Beef for Crispy Chilli Beef?
No medium rare beef here, we are frying the beef to a crisp!
With this, you can essentially use any beef cut of choice – this would probably be the cheapest cut that you have. The typical cut to use for stir fries would be flank. Here I’m using chuck, that is meant more for stews. It is usually tough and requires the long cook times of stewing to really break down the tough muscles.
To get tender, crispy beef, slice the beef as thinly as possible, and against the grain. It’s as simple as that. If you see visible muscle or fat sticking out, I would recommend cutting it off.
In this recipe, you would also notice that I pan-fried or shallow-fried the beef slices. If you want to deep fry this, or course you can. I just don’t want to use so much oil just for this. Not practical! The total cook time to fry the beef slices till crispy and charred was about 7-8 minutes. If shallow-frying, make sure to flip the beef to the other side for an even cook. I used tongs for this, but I’ll be honest – at my laziest I would just use my spatula to stir fry the beef slices until (most of) the beef has turned over.
How to get Tender Beef?
There are a few methods to get beef that is tender, instead of tough and chewy.
Slice it as thinly as possible and against the grain.
I mentioned this earlier and this is my go-to! I find this the most foolproof method and it works with pretty much all cuts of beef. This method also allows to remove any muscle fibres that will cause sinewy, tough chews.
Give it a baking soda treatment
This method will you velvety soft beef strips – this is how Chinese restaurants do it. All you do is slice your beef, and add a teaspoon (maybe less) of baking soda. Massage it into the beef and let it hang out for about 15-20 minutes. Then rinse it all off, and you should get tender beef. This is very tricky though, and not predictable. Baking soda can make your beef bitter, and leave an unpleasant aftertaste in your mouth. Using too much baking soda, leaving it on for too long, not rinsing it enough, all can lead to this bitterness. At the same time, not using enough baking soda and leaving it on not long enough will not get you the tender beef you want.
Beat with a meat mallet or pestle
This is quite straightforward. Use a meat mallet or a pestle to pound the beef slices to tenderness. I find this can get messy, and I just don’t like how mangled my food gets – but that’s just me.
Three Sauces to Make the Perfect Crispy Chilli Beef Sauce
Three sauces here are used to make up this one sweet, sticky, tangy and spicy sauce.
The sauces are:
- Chilli Sauce: Any of your favourite chilli sauce here will work, including sriracha! I love Sambal Oelek here, because it has a nice vinegar-y tang to it already. If you want a milder spice, I recommend Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce.
- Tomato Ketchup: The same tomato ketchup you dip your fries in.
- Dark Sweet Soy Sauce: This is Kicap Manis, but you can also use Chinese Dark Soy Sauce.
These three sauces are all you need to create the delicious sauce. The resulting sauce should be sweet and tangy. For efficiency, you can premix these sauces beforehand and add it all in one go.
For extra tang, I added vinegar. I’ve tried this recipe with all sorts of vinegar – white vinegar, rice vinegar and apple cider vinegar – they all came out beautiful!
Some recipes I’ve seen add sugar as well – I do not, as I think this is sweet enough with just the sauces. Besides, I prefer the savoury tang than the sweetness. If you like it sweeter than this, then feel free to add a tablespoon of sugar.
While I usually prefer a saucy dish, this time round I much prefer having just enough sauce to coat the fried beef. This is a dish that is great when served with rice, but I have to admit – I can munch on this by itself all day long!
Vegetables To Use for Chilli Beef
I used capsicums and red chillies here; not only does the flavour complement the dish, the colours really pop.
Other vegetables you can use in the dish include carrots, cauliflower and broccoli.
What to Serve this With?
With some rice of course! I like to cook up a side dish of fried eggs and vegetable stir fry to complete the meal. Between you and me though, I’ve even just snacked on this by itself – it’s so addictively more-ish!
More recipes like this:
Crispy Chilli BeefCourse: Recipes
350g Beef, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Pepper
1/4 tsp Sugar
3 tbsps Cornstarch, or enough to coat
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Ginger, grated
1 Onion, sliced
1 Red Chillli, sliced
2 tbsps Sambal Oelek or Sriracha (adjust to spice tolerance)
2 tbsps Tomato Ketchup
2 tbsps Dark Soy Sauce or Kicap Manis
1 tsp Vinegar
- Frying the Beef
- Add egg, salt, pepper and sugar to the beef and massage it in. Next add cornstarch and gently combine with the beef to get an even, sticky coat throughout.
- Add oil to pan and heat over medium to high. Once hot, add the coated beef slices. Do not overcrowd pan, and separate the slices with tongs or spatula.
- Allow the beef slices to cook fully and get crispy.
- Remove cooked fried beef from the pan and keep to one side.
- Making the Sauce
- To the same pan, remove some of the oil until you’re left with about 1-2 tbsps oil. Turn on heat and allow pan to get hot again over medium heat.
- Once hot, add onions, garlic, ginger and red chillies. Saute until fragrant.
- Toss in capsicums next, and give it a quick stir fry.
- Add the sauces next: sambal oelek, tomato ketchup, dark sweet soy sauce and vinegar. Stir to combine, and allow the sauce mix to come to a boil.
- Once it boils, add back the fried beef. Toss to coat and serve!