Scallion Beef Stir Fry (葱爆牛肉)

4.88 from 8 votes
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Scallion beef stir-fry features juicy beef cooked with tender Chinese scallion in a scrumptious brown sauce that’s savory and sweet. It’s a super quick dish for a busy weekday night and you can serve it with steamed rice for a complete, delicious and healthy meal. {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Scallion beef stir fry in a pan

This scallion beef recipe is slightly adapted from scallion lamb stir-fry (葱爆羊肉, cong bao yang rou), a classic northern Chinese dish. You probably won’t find scallion beef in a Chinese restaurant, as beef is not a staple in most of China. But since beef is a more available protein in the US, I wanted to share this classic recipe with you using beef. 

Scallion beef is made with sliced beef and Chinese scallions in a savory brown sauce. The beef is cooked with high heat until browned and still juicy. It’s then brought together with scallions, a simple sauce and a ton of aromatics. It’s the best type of dish to serve over steamed rice for a quick and satisfying meal.

Northern Chinese style scallion beef stir fry over rice

Ingredients

What is Chinese scallion (大葱)

Growing up in Beijing, the most common type of scallion is the very long and thick type (See the picture below. I placed some regular green onions on the side for scale.). It is called Da Cong (大葱), or directly translated means big scallion. We use it every day instead of the delicate green onions (known as scallions in the US), which are more expensive and do not stand up to heat as well. 

Chinese leek and how to cut it for stir fry

You can see that the Chinese scallion is much bigger, with a very long white part. The texture of the Chinese scallion is very similar to that of green onion, except the white part and green part are slightly thicker and coarser. 

Chinese scallions resemble leeks, but I think the texture of leeks is much drier. Also, leeks have a shorter white stem, and the green part is much thicker.

For the scallion beef stir fry, the best option is to use Chinese scallions for a much better texture. However, you can use regular scallions or leeks as an alternative. If using regular scallions, you will need about 6 to 8 of them and you should slice them into 2” (5 cm) long pieces. For leeks, you can use 1 to 2 of them, depending on the size. You should also cook the leeks a bit longer so they will turn soft.

What type of beef cut to use

My favorite beef cut for stir frying is flank steak. You can use skirt steak as well. If you want to use a cheaper cut such as chuck or brisket, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the marinade and marinate the beef for 20 to 30 minutes. The baking soda will tenderize the beef and keep a great texture during the cooking process.

Mise en place

When you’re ready to cook, your table should have:

  1. Marinated beef
  2. Dried chili pepper, sliced garlic (you can group them together because they are added in the same step)
  3. Sliced Chinese scallions
  4. Mixed sauce
Ingredients for Scallion beef stir fry
Cong Bao Niu Rou

How to make scallion beef stir fry

Cooking scallion beef is super fast once you’ve done the prep:

  1. Spread out the beef in a hot pan to sear it
  2. To make sure the beef is cooked perfectly, it’s best to cook it until medium rare then remove it from the pan
  3. Saute the chili pepper and garlic to release the aroma
  4. Add the Chinese scallions and cook until it just starts to soften
  5. Add back the beef and pour in the sauce
  6. Cook until the sauce has thickened

That’s it! Then you can serve this juicy beef and tender scallions over steamed rice for dinner!

How to cook scallion beef stir fry step by step

Other delicious dinner ideas 

Scallion beef stir fry close up
Scallion Beef Stir Fry (葱爆牛肉)
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Scallion beef stir-fry features juicy beef cooked with tender Chinese scallion in a scrumptious brown sauce that’s savory and sweet. It’s a super quick dish for a busy weekday night and you can serve it with steamed rice for a complete, delicious and healthy meal. {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Scallion Beef Stir Fry (葱爆牛肉)

4.88 from 8 votes
Scallion beef stir-fry features juicy beef cooked with tender Chinese scallion in a scrumptious brown sauce that’s savory and sweet. It’s a super quick dish for a busy weekday night and you can serve it with steamed rice for a complete, delicious and healthy meal. {Gluten-Free Adaptable}
To make this dish gluten-free, use tamari instead of soy sauce and use dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: homestyle
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Marinating ingredients

  • 1 lb (16 oz) beef flank steak , sliced into 1/4” (4 mm) thick pieces (or skirt steak, or other cut)
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (Optional, *Footnote 1)
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper powder

Stir-fry

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 3 Chinese chili peppers , dried
  • 4 cloves garlic , sliced
  • 2 Chinese scallions , tough end removed and sliced on a bias (or leeks) (*Footnote 2)

Instructions

  • Combine the beef, Shaoxing wine, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Mix well with your hands. Add the cornstarch and mix again, until all the ingredients are evenly coated.
  • Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the beef and spread it out as much as you can without overlapping (*Footnote 3). Let cook without touching for 30 seconds, or until the bottom is lightly browned. Flip and cook the other side for another 30 seconds, until the surface is cooked but the inside is still a bit pink. Transfer the beef to a plate and set aside.
  • If your pan does not have any oil left, drizzle a bit more oil into it. Add the dried chili peppers and garlic. Stir a few times until the chili pepper turns dark.
  • Add the scallions. Stir and cook for 30 seconds, until the scallions start to soften. If you are using regular leeks, you might need to cook them a bit longer.
  • Add back the beef and pour in the sauce. Stir and cook until the sauce has thickened, 1 minute or so. Immediately transfer everything to a big plate. Serve hot as a main dish.

Notes

  1. Dark soy sauce adds a beautiful dark brown color to the dish and a light caramelized taste. You can skip it if you do not have it on hand.
  2. See the blog post above for more information on Chinese scallions (or called Chinese leeks).
  3. It’s very important to use a large pan and heat it up well, so the beef will be seared properly. I used a 13” heavy carbon steel pan for this purpose. If your pan is smaller, cook it in two batches to guarantee the best result.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 274kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 25.4g, Fat: 11.9g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 71mg, Sodium: 654mg, Potassium: 404mg, Fiber: 0.6g, Sugar: 8.1g, Calcium: 22mg, Iron: 16mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

The post was published on Aug 13, 2015 and updated by Jul 29, 2022.

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Kevin | keviniscooking says:

    5 stars
    Love the simplicity of this dish and for the bit of lamb/beef information from how things are over in China. I love lamb and would try this with both. On another note, congrats again on the recent wedding, how exciting! Look forward to the pictures.

    • Maggie says:

      Thanks Kevin! I found it’s so much easier to get high quality beef than lamb here. But yeah, if I find a good source for lamb, I’ll definitely cook with it too.

  2. Lokness @ The Missing Lokness says:

    Costco is the BEST! Bryan and I love going there and get some good deals. I especially love 葱爆羊肉! Beef is much easier to get. I think it is just as delicious! I am trying this soon. Congrats once again! Can’t wait to hear more about the wedding. 😉

    • Maggie says:

      Thanks Lokness! We love shopping Costco too, and always got tons of food every time we visited. Will share the pictures as soon as I get them!

  3. 5 stars
    Oh Maggie! I am so thrilled about your marriage and I can’t WAIT to read more and see photos! Congratulations again! 🙂

    This stir fry is fabulous, I love that it is quite a classic sauce which means I always have the ingredients on hand! The beef DOES look beautifully caramelised. Thank you for sharing. Pinning! N x

    • Maggie says:

      I used way more sugar than usual but the beef turns out great! I’m becoming local way too fast! lol

  4. 5 stars
    A huge congratulations on your wedding, can’t wait to see pics. This recipe looks mouth watering. There’s nothing better than juicy tender caramelized beef and you did it perfectly.

    • Maggie says:

      Thanks Janette! The good amount of sugar helped with the caramelization and it brought out the great flavor of the beef. Glad you like this one too 🙂

  5. Susan says:

    Maggie, I love that you went riding after your wedding. My husband and I spent the first evening of our marriage at a NY Yankees game – the only baseball game I’ve ever been to. (We went because his younger son, who served as his best man, already had tickets to the game and got some for us.)

    I love the simplicity of this recipe, and am looking forward to trying it.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Susan, it was HOT that day but the horse riding was a lot of fun! I’m so glad we did it. I was afraid our ceremony was too tiny and short. But it turned out a very busy day 🙂
      Glad you like this dish. Happy cooking!

  6. Bam's Kitchen says:

    5 stars
    This is one quick dish that my boys just love! Spicy and something for the meat eaters. I know isn’t amazing how cheap things are in US compared to Asia. I just love the photo of you and Thomas on the horses and can’t wait to some photos of the wedding…Delicious looking photos, I just want to take a bite out of your screen! Sharing ad pinning, of course!

    • Maggie says:

      Yeah, lots of things are so cheap here, such as chicken and beef. I never got many chances to cook beef while I was in China, because it was really difficult to get a good cut, even you spend quite a lot of money. I’m stacking my freezer with these short ribs now. Oh and ground turkey! Never had them before and can’t live without them now! They are surprising tender and flavorful (than chicken). I use it to replace ground pork now. Hope you enjoy this dish 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    Maggie, I came here to get this recipe 🙂 I just wanted to check – I read somewhere that if a recipe just says “soy sauce” in a Chinese recipe, then I should assume it is light soy sauce? In Western and SE Asian cooking (certainly in australia), if a recipe just says “soy sauce” then it is assumed to mean ordinary soy sauce i.e. kikkoman all purpose Thanks!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Nagi, I used Kikkoman all purpose soy sauce in this recipe. You’re right, I once mentioned about I mostly use light soy sauce (before I moved to the US). But now it’s difficult to get light soy sauce sometimes, so I use the ordinary soy sauce too. I will update my pantry page. Thanks for reminding me!

  8. Sarah says:

    5 stars
    This was delicious, even though I had to make a few substitutions due to why I could get my hands on. Can’t wait to try it again with everything called for! One question: should you remove the browned peppers before adding the beef or keep them in for the duration?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Sarah, both ways work. In most Chinese cookings we leaves the chili peppers in, and pick them out while eating the dish. Depends on your preference, you could remove them before adding other ingredients.
      Happy cooking and hope your dish turns out great next time!

  9. plasterer bristol says:

    This sounds really nice recipe. Thanks for putting this up. Will be giving this a go.

    Simon

  10. Raana says:

    4 stars
    Enjoyed and loved the recipe. It was quite delicious. Sadly, our local beef is tough so I velveted it and then prepared it. It’s similar to a few other beef stir fry recipes. Having said all this I love making your recipes and find them easy to manage and beautifully explained. So a huge thank you ! And greetings from Islamabad, Pakistan 🇵🇰 😀

  11. Bill Zigrang says:

    I need a little help from our Japanese friends. ?Are the Chinese Scallions the same as edo-negi (Tokyo scallions)??

  12. Antoinette says:

    What is the sauce made up of? Kindly share. Or did i miss reading it..thank you

  13. Lisa says:

    I made this for dinner last night, and oh my goodness! This tasted JUST like takeout. It was so simple to make and packed maximum flavor in just a few minutes. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and creating a dish that is now going into my dinner rotation!

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      So happy to hear you liked it and thanks for leaving a positive review! 🙂

  14. Michelle says:

    5 stars
    So good, soooo good! The dish came together so quickly, probably took longer to cut everything up. 😂 Going to share with my friends and family. Thank you for a dish that makes ME look good. 😉

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