Another cumin beef recipe (孜然牛肉)

The first cumin beef recipe I posted called for thin slices of beef to be twice-cooked; first, briefly fried in about an inch of oil then drained and stir-fried with other ingredients. This recipe uses bite-sized chunks rather than slices, and relies only on stir-frying. That makes this version quicker and a bit lighter, but still just as tasty.

Cumin beef (孜然牛肉, zīrán níuròu)

Cumin beef (孜然牛肉, zīrán níuròu)

Other than cutting things up into small pieces, the only preparatory step that takes any effort is to gently toast some cumin seeds and  grind them into a powder. Toast whole cumin seeds un your dry wok until they just begin to turn golden.

Toasted cumin seeds

Toasted cumin seeds

Then grind the seeds with a suribachi or mortar and pestle until they form a coarse powder.

The heat in this dish comes from fresh Thai chiles. Slice them diagonally and remove the loose seeds.

Thai chiles, sliced and seeded

Thai chiles, sliced and seeded

Everything else is simple and straightforward.


  1. 1/4 lb beef (such as chuck, roundsteak, or flank steak), cut into bite-sized pieces; marinated for 30 minutes in 2 tsp Shaoxing rice wine, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, and 1 tsp potato flour
  2. 2 cloves garlic, minced; 4 small Thai chiles (or to taste), sliced with loose seeds removed
  3. 1 small red bell pepper, cut in slices to match the size of the beef pieces


  • Heat your wok until barely smoking. Then add 1 Tbsp peanut oil and swirl it around. Add the beef (#1) and stir-fry for about 1-2 minutes until cooked through and beginning to brown.
  • Add the garlic and chiles (#2) and stir-fry for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Then add the red pepper (#3); stir-fry until the pepper is heated through, about a minute.
  • Garnish with chopped scallions and serve with rice and contrasting dishes.

Variations: This recipe is drier than most of TastyAsia’s meat recipes. If you’d like more sauce, finish the dish by adding 2 Tbsp stock or broth of your choice, mixed with 1 tsp potato flour, to your wok and stir thoroughly before removing from the heat. Don’t think you need to though; this dish is authentic and delicious just as it is.

This entry was posted in Beef, Meat, Recipes, Stir-fry and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Another cumin beef recipe (孜然牛肉)

  1. Looks great! Thanks for the recipe.

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