Sichuan beef

This is another comforting recipe, with the ma la (麻辣) or “numbing and spicy” Sichuan flavors. It’s also simple, by which I mean it can be cooked in the time it takes to prepare your rice.

In another post I mentioned that the numbing properties of the Sichuan pepper makes for a unique taste experience: the numbing sensation lets you enjoy more red chiles without the pain of excessive heat. If you haven’t had Sichuan peppers before, please give them a try. You’ll be able to find them at any good Chinese grocery store, and they’re available online as well. I ordered a bag from JR Mushrooms & Specialties, an online retailer on, and they were excellent. Ironically, the peppers I ordered online were better than the last bag I bought at my local market, which were a bit stale. Your milage may vary.

Sichuan Beef

Sichuan Beef

There are two main technical tips for this dish. First, keep the wok blazing hot until the beef is brown. This will sear the meat and keep the juices inside. If the wok starts to cool down, moisture will sweat out from the meat and make a gravy, which is not necessarily bad, but for this dish, it’s better to keep the juice inside the meat. Second, turn the heat off after you stir in the sauce and then let things settle for about a minute before adding the scallions. Letting the dish cool down just a bit like this keeps the scallions from wilting.


  1. 1 lb flank steak, sliced against the grain into small, thin pieces and marinated for 25 minutes in 2 Tbsp light soy sauce, 2 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine, and 1 tsp corn starch
  2. 3 cloves garlic and 1/2″ ginger, both minced finely
  3. 1/2 red onion, cut in to small wedges
  4. 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns (husks only) and 4-5 dried red chiles, snipped into 1/3″ pieces (seeds discarded)
  5. 2 Tbsp dark soy sauce, 1/4 cup chicken stock, 1 tsp corn starch, mixed together well
  6. 5 scallions, green parts only, sliced into 1/3″ diagonal lengths


  • Heat your wok until barely smoking. Then add 1 Tbsp peanut oil and swirl it around. Then add the beef mixture (#1) and let it cook undisturbed for about 1 minute until browned on one side. Then add the garlic and ginger (#2) and stir-fry everything for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the red onion (#3) and stir-fry for about a minute.
  • Then add the Sichuan pepper pepper and dried red chiles (#4), and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
  • Pour in the sauce (#5) and stir on medium/low heat for a minute or two until everything is combined and heated through.
  • Turn off the heat. After everything stops bubbling, add the green onions (#6) and stir once. (Adding the scallions after the heat is off keeps them from wilting.)

Variations: Use Chinese leeks instead of scallions, but add them during the final stir-fry while everything is still hot. Add 1 cup loosely packed cilantro with the scallions. Add blanched, slivered carrots with the onions (#3).

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