Scallion Beef Stir Fry (葱爆牛肉)

5 from 6 votes
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Scallion Beef Stir Fry (葱爆牛肉) - The beef is tender, moist, and caramelized as it cooks in a sweet savory sauce. It takes only 15 minutes to prep and cook! |

Scallion beef stir-fry creates the most scrumptious flavor in minimal time. The beef is caramelized and cooked in a sweet savory sauce. The leeks add great texture and plenty of nutrition. Can you imagine that this only takes 15 minutes to prep and cook?

Time has been passing extremely quickly lately. After a week of preparation for the wedding, Thomas and I got married last weekend! I know I did a poor job of keeping you updated with our ceremony. Our photos will be ready at the beginning of September. I promise I will share the stories of our big day, along with some photos, as soon as possible!

Getting Married |

After the wedding, Thomas and I were exhausted and mentally drained. We have been eating comfort food outside, without cooking at all for the past few days. Yesterday, I finally returned to the kitchen to cook lunch. I wanted a really quick meal, so I chose to make this dish.

This recipe is actually an adaptation of the traditional Chinese scallion lamb (葱爆羊肉, cong bao yang rou). You won’t find scallion beef stir fry in a Chinese restaurant, as beef is not a staple for most Chinese families. It’s very pricy and the average beef quality is quite low in China. We do not usually cook with beef in stir fried dishes, since it requires a tender cut.

After moving to Austin, I found beef prices so low and the quality wonderful, even when it comes to cheap cuts. We got these short ribs at Costco. They came in 7-ounce (200-gram) chunks. Not very fatty, but well marbled. We froze them in separate Ziplock bags, and when we need to roast some beef to top a salad, or cook a beef stir fry, we simply pull out a bag to thaw.

Scallion Beef Stir Fry Cooking Process |

When I was planning to cook this classic scallion lamb, I went for the beef short ribs instead. The flavor of the dish turned out slightly different, but I enjoyed it a lot.

The beef steak slices are nicely caramelized, tender, and moist, with a rich sweet-savory flavor. The leeks add vibrant color, crisp texture, and plenty of nutrition. The best part is, you only need 15 minutes to do all the prep and cooking. You can stir-fry all the way through, in one skillet, without taking the beef out in the middle. Pour the beef and leeks onto some steamed rice, and you’ll have a great meal ready!

Scallion Beef Stir Fry (葱爆牛肉) - The beef is tender, moist, and caramelized as it cooks in a sweet savory sauce. It takes only 15 minutes to prep and cook! |

Meal Plan

For dinner, I like to add a simple salad or a veggie dish as a side. But for a quick lunch, I feel totally comfortable serving the scallion beef with some steamed rice as a one-dish meal.

Quick lunch: Steamed Rice / boiled noodles + Scallion Beef Stir-fry

Healthy dinner: Steamed Brown Rice + Scallion Beef Stir-fry + Spinach salad

Traditional Chinese meal for 4: Steamed Rice + Scallion Beef Stir-fry + Braised Chicken with Mushrooms (Cook ahead of time) / Mapo Tofu + Spicy Cabbage Stir-Fry + Hot and Sour Soup

That’s all for today! Hope you enjoy 🙂

Scallion Beef Stir Fry (葱爆牛肉) - The beef is tender, moist, and caramelized as it cooks in a sweet savory sauce. It takes only 15 minutes to prep and cook! |

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Scallion Beef Stir Fry (葱爆牛肉)

5 from 6 votes
Scallion beef stir-fry creates the most scrumptious flavor in minimal time. The beef is caramelized and cooked in a sweet savory sauce. The leeks add great texture and plenty of nutrition. Can you imagine that this only takes 15 minutes to prep and cook?
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2


Marinated beef

  • 14 ounces (400 grams) short ribs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch


  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper powder


  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 3 peppers , dried
  • 4 cloves garlic , sliced
  • 2 leeks , sliced (or Chinese scallions)


  • Cut beef against the grain into slices 1/8 inch (4 millimeters) thick.
  • Add beef, salt, 2 teaspoons water, and cornstarch into a bowl. Mix well.
  • Remove and discard the tough leaves of the leeks. Chop leeks into large pieces.
  • Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet (or a wok) over medium high heat until hot. Add chili pepper. Cook until the chili pepper turns dark brown.
  • Add garlic and spread beef over skillet. Let cook for 20 seconds without stirring. Cook and stir until both sides are slightly charred, 1 minute.
  • Mix the sauce again to dissolve the cornstarch. Swirl starch mixture over the beef. Stir and cook until the sauce thickens, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Add leeks and turn off heat. Stir for another 30 seconds so that the leek mixes well with the sauce.
  • Transfer everything to a plate. Serve warm with rice.


Serving: 338g, Calories: 650kcal, Carbohydrates: 30.2g, Protein: 59.6g, Fat: 31.7g, Saturated Fat: 9.1g, Cholesterol: 181mg, Sodium: 967mg, Potassium: 935mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 14.6g, Vitamin A: 1600IU, Vitamin C: 17.3mg, Calcium: 100mg, Iron: 6.1mg
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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.


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