No need for take-out with unknown fats and sodium, when you can easily make a better tasting, fresh, better for you, version of a Quick Low-Fat Beef Broccoli Stir-Fry at home? A little less sweet, a little bit spicy, and on the table in about less than 30 minutes.
The Making of Quick Low-Fat Beef Broccoli Stir-Fry
Chinese take-out is great, isn't it? A convenient quick dinner of excessive calories, fat, and sodium. At a price, you don't really want to pay. Neither from your wallet nor your health.
Yep, it's great.
I actually do love Chinese food - well, as I know Chinese food to be. Not as maybe a Chinese Chinese person knows and loves Chinese food. Having been raised on American Chinese take-out, I am familiar with the tastes, look, and feel of typical American Chinese dining. And, overall, when it comes to healthy choices, Beef Broccoli Stir-Fry is considered one of your better options when eating Chinese take-out.
Of course, it depends on where you go...
Comparing Chinese Beef Broccoli Stir-Fry from Take-out
According to cspinet.org the average Beef Broccoli stir-fry from your average Chinese restaurant has over 900 calories, with about 3200 mg of sodium. Even with an average of 9g of fat, the calories and sodium are excessive.
- Pf Chang's - a popular Chinese Bistro's Beef Broccoli Stir-Fry has 669 calories, 35g fat, and 3260mg sodium - that's 136% of your daily recommended amount of sodium. So while you save in the calorie section of the deal (I'm thinking less meat, more broccoli) you lose big time in fat and sodium.
- Panda Express - While you might not consider this "Chinese" food at all, at least is making an effort with their portion of Beef Broccoli coming in at only 150 calories and 520mg of sodium.
But one of the biggest problems I have, when trying to get take-out Chinese, is getting take-out Chinese that's good. I find, especially around my town, that the food is expensive and one-dimensional in flavor. Sure I can taste the sauce, but where is the broccoli?
This recipe for Quick Low-Fat Beef Broccoli Stir Fry is certainly not one-dimensional, it's full of flavor.
Colorful, vibrant flavor.
But take-out is so convenient
So you argue, Chinese take-out is still...convenient.
And I can't argue with you there.
But wait, I will.
What is convenient?
You just pick it up and bring it home. Open the cartons, and you know that there is now more than one carton, because you didn't just order Beef Broccoli, you ordered a couple of other dishes - ya know - variety. So you can have those left-overs for lunch. Even if it's a lunch of high fat, high sodium foods. I mean, you can't throw it out.
Is 15 minutes too much time to spend preparing fresh food, that's better for you?
Yes, you will have to clean the stove, I admit that, but unless you eat right out of the carton, the rest of the dishes should be about the same.
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THE STIR-FRY
- Lean beef-Use a steak such as a boneless top sirloin, flank, or New York Strip.
- Broccoli-Fresh is best, but if you want to use frozen, just make sure it's completely thawed and patted dry.
- Fresh garlic and ginger-The dry stuff just won't cut it.
- Low-sodium soy- Always. To keep it gluten-free, use gluten-free soy.
- Dry sherry or saki
- White wine or white vermouth-I like to use vermouth as it always tastes the same, white wine can vary widely in flavor depending on how it was made. An added benefit, vermouth is generally cheaper.
- Garlic chili sauce- found in the Asian section of most supermarkets.
- Sweet chili sauce- optional but adds a nice roundness of flavor.
- Toasted sesame oil- Keep this in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness.
- Rice wine vinegar- I haven't found much difference in using seasoned or non, so whatever you have is fine.
- Special Equipment - a Wok is nice, but a deep-sided heavy skillet will work as well.
OPTIONS AND VARIATIONS
- Red pepper flakes help add some heat. If you don't want extra heat, don't add them.
- A tablespoon or more of Hoison sauce to add a bit of sweetness, if you like it sweeter.
- Red bell pepper, cut into a large dice.
- Carrots, julienne, and blanch to soften slightly.
- Bean sprouts, also known as mung beans, add these at the last possible minutes.
- Water chestnuts, sliced. Add a nice earthy crunch.
- Mushrooms, sliced and added along with the broccoli.
Things to keep in mind when making this Quick Low-Fat Beef Brocolli Stir-Fry recipe
- Mis en Place - have all of your ingredients ready before you start cooking.
- It's easier to slice meat thinly when it's partially frozen, a sharp knife also helps.
- Do par-cook and shock your broccoli so it retains a beautiful green color and does not get overcooked. If you use thawed-frozen broccoli, skip this step.
- Make sure your skillet or wok is super hot before you start so you sear your meat, not boil it.
- Only use low-sodium soy or low-sodium gluten-free soy sauces. YOU do NOT need the extra sodium full sodium soy gives you. When you look at the nutritional information, this is still rather high in sodium with 1278mg - using full-on soy would make that number 2460. And full-on - full sodium soy adds no more flavor, only more salt. So why?
USING WINE IN COOKING
I always use white vermouth in place of white wines. White vermouth is not only more consistent in its flavor, but it's also cheap. You can get a bottle of vermouth for about $4.00. A wine sold at that price is not something you necessarily want to consume...and let's not cook with anything we wouldn't drink. And that means NO COOKING WINE! If it says cooking wine on the label, throw it out right now, this second! If you don't drink alcohol, no problem. The alcohol cooks off and vermouth keeps for about forever in your refrigerator...so save it for the next time you need it.
Once your stir-fry is ready, serve it over some steamed rice. Making fresh rice takes about 20 minutes, but there are many instant and frozen kinds of rice out there anymore, you can have the rice done in 5 minutes. Or try my Twice-Cooked Brown Rice recipe. Takes a bit longer but you get the benefit of brown rice.
And of course, it's all better with the optional sesame seeds, Chinese noodles, some thinly sliced green onion tops.
So do take this recipe as a starting point, and feel free to make it your own. If you do, let me know what you did and how you liked it in the comments.
Want more easy Chinese-style dinners? Try these...
Quick Low-Fat Beef Broccoli Stir-Fry
- For the Meat
- ½ pound lean boneless top round steak or flank steak, cut diagonally across the grain into thin strips
- 3 large cloves garlic finely minced (about 1 ½ teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dry Sherry or Sake
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- A dash or two of red pepper flakes optional
- For the Sauce
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons white vermouth or dry white wine
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce optional
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- For the Rest
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil such as grapeseed oil, divided
- 1 small red bell pepper seeded and diced into a large dice
- 2 cups fresh broccoli flowerets in bite-sized pieces
- 2 cups hot cooked rice for serving (optional)
- Sesame seeds Chinese noodles, thinly sliced green onion, for garnish, if desired
- In a bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients, add the meat, toss well, and set aside while you prepare the sauce and vegetables.
- Mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
- Bring a small amount of lightly salted water to a boil in a skillet, or your wok, add the broccoli, stir in the water until they just turn bright green, about 1 minute. Remove immediately to an ice bath. (This quick blanch ensures the broccoli retains its bright green color ). Heat half the oil in a wok or large skillet, when hot, add the meat along with the marinade and stir-fry for two minutes or until the meat is just beginning to cook. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the remaining oil along with the bell pepper and cook for 1 minute or until crisp-tender, then add the broccoli, cook 1 minute more until hot and crisp-tender. Return the meat to the pan; add the sauce ingredients, stir fry quickly until the sauce thickens slightly and all the ingredients are coated. Serve over rice with optional toppers.