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Stir Fried Beef with Bitter Melon {苦瓜炒牛肉}

by Shirley

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Stir Fried Beef with Bitter Melon {苦瓜炒牛肉}

Stir Fried Beef with Bitter Melon is a well-liked traditional Cantonese food. It features juicy and flavorful beef slices stir-fried with bitter melon slices, and wrapped in a delicious semi-sweet garlicky bean sauce.

Keep reading to learn all the tips and tricks on how to make tender and yummy beef stir fry; how to make bitter melon not utterly bitter, as well as how to make a delicious Beef Stir Fry sauce.

Stir Fried Beef with Bitter Melon {苦瓜炒牛肉}
Stir fried Beef with Bitter Melon

How to prepare and tenderize beef for delicious Stir fried Beef?

No doubt it is much trickier to stir fry beef compared to pork or chicken. This is because beef meat can easily toughened up during the cooking. If you have been searching for solutions on how to tenderize beef, search no more. I’m so glad you have come to the right place. I’m going to share my tested proved end-to-end solutions, from cutting the beef to searing the beef. Follow these practical old-fashioned tips, you will have no problem making a juicy and flavorful stir fried beef with all kinds of vegetables.

What kind of Beef Cut is best for Stir Fry?

Chuck or Top Round works very well, as long as you remove the gristles if there are a lot of them. Beef Chuck or Beef Top Round contain a certain level of fat, which makes a juicy Beef Stir Fry. Flank Steak works too, but usually they are harder to get and more expensive compared to the other two options.

how to prepare and tenderize beef for cooking?
how to prepare and tenderize beef for cooking?

Prepare and Tenderize Beef for Stir Fry Step-by-Step Guide:

Read here for more details.

How to Reduce Bitterness of Bitter Melon?

Bitter Melon is a superfood gourd that provides loads of nutrients and health benefits. However, depending on the varieties, Bitter Melon can taste utterly bitter. If you are searching for solutions to reduce the sharp bitterness of bitter melon, search no more. I am going to share with you my tested and proved old-fashioned techniques that will reduce sharp bitterness significantly.

Reduce Bitterness of Bitter Melon Step-by-Step Tutorial:

  • Cut open the bitter melon and remove the seeds and pith thoroughly
  • Marinate the Bitter Melon with salt for 10 – 30 minutes
  • Rinse off the salt and scrub inside Bitter Melon to remove the bitter juice induced by the salt
  • Blanch bitter melon with white vinegar

Read here for more details.

how to reduce bitterness of bitter melon

How to make a tasty Stir Fry sauce for Stir Fried Beef?

It is important that you have already marinated beef slices with Shaoxing wine, naturally aged soy sauce (or dark soy sauce) and a bit of Zhenjiang vinegar.

For a delicious Beef Stir Fry sauce, mix light soy sauce, minced garlic, freshly ground black pepper, turbinado sugar, a teaspoonful of Douchi together, along with some water.

Beef Stir Fry Sauce

A compact food processor is a must-have kitchen gadget that does a wonderful job mincing garlic for all kinds of delicious food featuring minced garlic. Beef and Broccoli, Mongolian Beef, Di San Xian {Stir Fried Eggplant with garlic sauce}, Yu Xiang Qie Zi {Stir fried Eggplant with spicy garlic sauce}, Kelp Salad, you name it.

Minced Garlic Using a Compact Food Processor
Minced Garlic Using a Compact Food Processor

What is Douchi {豆豉}?

If you haven’t had Douchi before, you might wonder: What do they taste like? How are they incorporated into cooking? Last but not least, are they good for me?

  • Douchi (豆豉) is an ancient Chinese condiment made of soybeans or black beans after being fermented in specific ways.
  • They taste like extremely concentrated soy sauce, almost like soy sauce packed in a bean.
  • Dating back to as early as 165 B.C., Douchi has been helping Chinese people cook food items such as vegetables, meat, and seafood.
  • Douchi is healthy food considering fermented soybeans contain beneficial bacterial that helps digestive health. However, since Dou chi is exceptionally salty, a small amount goes a long way.
Douchi {Ancient Chinese Condiment}
Douchi {Ancient Chinese Condiment}

Best sequencing steps when cooking a Stir Fried Beef with Bitter Melon

Stir Fried Beef with Bitter Melon is a somewhat complex stir fry dish as both beef and bitter melon need to be prepared properly before cooking. Marinating beef and bitter melon both take time. It also takes time to boil a stockpot of water. I have tried many ways and settled on the below work flow, which seems to the most streamlined method and takes about 40 minutes to cook this dish perfectly just as it should be every time.

First is to gather ingredients and fill a 4 Qt of stockpot with water and let it boil. Second is to remove seeds and pith of bitter melon and sprinkle with salt. Third is to cut beef and then soak them in the cold water.

By now, the water is about to reach a boil. Rinse, scrub and cut the bitter melon. Once the water reaches a boil, blanch the bitter melon slices with white vinegar and set aside. All these steps take about 15 minutes.

Next is to marinate the beef. The beef has been being soaked in the cold water. Rinse them a few times and gently squeeze the extra water out of the beef and then prepare the beef accordingly. While beef is being marinated, prepare the stir fry sauce in a bowl, as well as cut ginger slices and green onion into small pieces. All these steps take about 10 minutes.

Last but not least is the actual cooking. Turn the heat to medium and heat a hard anodized fry pan for 2 minutes. The rest is straightforward, brown the beef and then stir-fry together with the bitter melon. All these steps take about 15 minutes.

Stir Fried Beef with Bitter Melon {苦瓜炒牛肉}

Stir Fried Beef with Bitter Melon {苦瓜炒牛肉}

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Stir Fried Beef with Bitter Melon is a well-liked traditional Cantonese food. It features juicy and flavorful beef slices stir-fried with bitter melon slices, and wrapped in a delicious semi-sweet garlicky fermented bean sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of beef, chuck or top round or flank steak
  • 1 lb of bitter melon, about 2-3 bitter melon

For Preparing Bitter Melon:

  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan Pink salt, plus 3/4 tsp for marinating for a total of 1 tsp
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

For Marinating the Beef:

  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tbsp naturally aged Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Zhenjiang vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp arrowroot flour
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

For Browning the Beef:

  • 1 1/2 tpsp canola oi
  • 1 small piece of ginger, about 12 g, thin sliced
  • 1 stalk of green onion, chopped

For Beef Stir Fry sauce:

  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tbsp sugar, turbinado sugar is preferred
  • 1/2 tbsp arrowroot flour
  • 1 tsp Douchi
  • 1/4 cup of water

Instructions

Prepare Bitter Melon:

  1. Fill a 4-Qt stockpot with about 75% water and bring it to a boil, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. While waiting on the water, prepare the bitter melon. Wash and rinse bitter melon well. Trim both ends off, and then cut Bitter Melon vertically and remove the seeds and pith thoroughly using hands with the help of a small spoon.
    Remove the pith of bitter melon
  3. Sprinkle salt, either Himalayan Pink Salt or sea salt, over the open Bitter Melon chamber. Rub the salt into the Bitter Melon alongside the chamber. Let it rest for about 10 to 30 minutes while you are preparing for other ingredients.
    Marinate Bitter Melon with Salt

Go to next section "Prepare and Tenderize Beef" to cut and soak the beef while you are waiting on Bitter Melon marinating.

  1. Place the Bitter Melon in a large wash basin filled with cold water, and have a good scrub inside the Bitter Melon chamber. Change the water a few times and reinse well.
  2. Cut the bitter melon into thin slices, either using knife or a Mandoline slicer.
    Cut Bitter Melon into thin slices using a Mandoline Slicer
  3. When the water reaches a boil, add 1/4 cup white vinegar along with the bitter melon slices and wait for it to reach boil again.
    Blanch bitter melon slices
  4. Remove the Bitter Melon from the pot using a skimmer and place into a stainless steel colander. Rinse under the running cold water for about 30 seconds till they fully cool down. Set aside.
  5. continue "Preapre and Tenderize Beef" steps.

Prepare and Tenderize the Beef:

  1. While waiting for bitter melon to be marinated with salt, cut the steak into thin slices across the grain. Lay a few slices flat at a time and cut again to make bite-size thin slices.
    Cut Beef across the grain into thin slices
    Cut beef into bite size slices to prepare and tenderize beef
  2. Soak the beef slices in cold water, let it rest for about 10 minutes.
    Soak beef in cold water to prepare and tenderize beef

While waiting, go back to prepare bitter melon.

  1. Rinse the beef slices 2-3 times. Remove the beef slices from the water. Gently squeeze the beef to get rid of the extra water and then place them into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add baking soda into the mixing bowl, toss and mix well using bamboo spatulas. Set aside for 10 minutes.
    Mix beef with baking soda to prepare and tenderize beef
  3. Add Shaoxing wine, naturally aged soy sauce , Zhenjiang Vinegar and arrowroot flour per "For Marinating the Beef". Toss and mix well. Add 2 tbsp canola oil, toss and mix well. Set aside.
    Prepare and tenderize beef - Marinating Beef
  4. Add everything under the "For Beef Stir Fry sauce" into a small bowl and mix well. A mini food processor is very handy to mince the garlic.
    Minced Garlic Using a Compact Food Processor
  5. Wash and rinse ginger and green onion. Slice the ginger and cut green onion into small pieces.

Stir Fry Beef with Bitter Melon:

  1. Turn the heat to medium-high, and heat a 12-inch hard anodized fry-pan for 2 minutes. Add 1 tbsp cooking oil, along with half of the sliced ginger and chopped green onion, stir fry for about 10 seconds or till fragrant.
  2. Add about half of the marinated beef slices onto the pan. Try to lay them flat on the pan and cook for about 1 minute, and then flip and cook for another 1 minute. Following that, continuously fold and stir fry for another 2 minutes or till beef is seared and cooked properly. Remove the cooked beef from the pan using a slotted turner, place on a plate and set aside.
    Sear Marinated Beef Slices for Beef Stir Fry
  3. Add 1/2 tbsp canola oil and the remaining ginger and most of the remaining green onion into the fry-pan and then add the remaining marinated beef slices. Save some green onion for the garnishing.
  4. Repeat Step #2 to sear the other half of beef.
  5. Add the first half seared beef back to the pan and then add the blanched bitter melon slices.
    Seared Beef and Blanched Bitter Melon in the Pan for Stir Fry
  6. Quickly remix the stry fry sauce since the arrowrrot flour may have settled to the bottom, and pour in a circula montion over the beef and bitter melon, and then quickly fold and mix using a slotted turner until the sauce thickens. Use a silicone mini spatula to scrape the sauce bowl if needed.
    Freshly made Stir Fried Beef with Bitter Melon in the pan
  7. All done! Garnish with the rest of the green onion. Enjoy a super delicious Beef with Bitter Melon Stir Fry.
    Stir Fried Beef with Bitter Melon {苦瓜炒牛肉}

Notes

  • The instruction is organized by the topic. See below for an optimized work flow and cook this dish in 40 minutes:
  • First is to gather ingredients and fill a 4 Qt of stockpot with water and let it boil. Second is to remove seeds and pith of bitter melon and sprinkle with salt. Third is to cut beef and then soak them in the cold water. By now, the water is about to reach a boil. Rinse, scrub and cut the bitter melon. Once the water reaches a boil, blanch the bitter melon slices with white vinegar and set aside. All these steps take about 15 minutes.
  • Next is to marinate the beef. While beef is being marinated, prepare the stir fry sauce in a bowl, as well as cut ginger slices and green onion into small pieces. All these steps take about 10 minutes.
  • Last but not least is to turn the heat to medium-high and heat a hard anodized fry pan for 2 minutes. The rest is straightforward, brown the beef and then stir-fry together with the bitter melon. All these steps take about 15 minutes.
  • If you like crunchy bitter melon slices, then you can remove the bitter melon from the stockpot as soon as they reach a boil. If like softer bitter melon, then turn the heat to simmer and cook for 2 minutes before removing from the stockpot.
  • Regular Soy Sauce or Jiang You {酱油} in Chinese is naturally and traditionally brewed soy sacue. You can use dark soy sauce to substitute.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 461Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 148mgSodium: 1100mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 5gSugar: 12gProtein: 52g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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2 comments

GAIL C TONELLI April 19, 2021 - 10:21 am

Sounds delicious. What if I don’t have that kind of wine or vinegar?? Can I substitute?

Reply
Shirley April 19, 2021 - 10:39 am

Thank you! Both products are available on Amazon. I will add the links to the recommended products today. Not sure where do you live, if you have a Chinese, Korean or Asian Grocery store nearby, you can get both from there as well.

Reply

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