This weeknight-friendly Gingery Broccoli Beef stir-fry recipe came to me at the just-right time. Since last November we’ve been abuzz with houseguests. I took a four-month business course, and I started to teach cooking classes. And we’ve made the most of being able to travel again to see family. I can’t get enough of this gingery broccoli beef for four reasons, and think you might, too:
It uses pantry and freezer staples I love and almost always have around, like broccoli, fresh ginger, ground beef and soy sauce or coconut aminos.
It’s a 30-minute complete meal made in one pan, rice notwithstanding, perfect for busy days, lazy days, or any time fast, delicious nutrition is the aim.
It’s a season less dish, as appropriate in May as it is in November.
Our little household loves it. That’s all the reason I need to include this in our regular rotation.
How Recipes Evolve
It's not often one sees the straight line in how recipes evolve, but this one is a perfect example. I learned this gingery broccoli and beef recipe from my friend Mandy. Mandy added oven-roasted broccoli to Michelle at Unbound Wellness's Mongolian Ground Beef. In a step toward speed and energy efficiency I stir-fry the broccoli in the same pan as the beef. I cut the broccoli stems into thin coins, and slice the florets to have have flat edges that allow a similar caramelization as roasting. Triple score: this way it takes less time, uses less electricity, and has one less pan to wash. Taking a page from traditional stir-fries, I add the sauce directly to the pan with the browned beef and broccoli. The stir-fry method seems a little more like the Chinese beef and broccoli dishes I have always loved, just using the weeknight classic ground beef.
Mandy and I have each made our adaptations from Michelle's original yet the spirit remains the same.
Don't count this recipe out for vegans. I suspect that plant-based meat crumbles or crumbled and browned tofu would be a swell swap for the ground beef in this recipe. If you give either option a try, please let the rest of us know how it goes.
If low-carb is your jam, swap the rice for cauliflower rice like Mandy does. It serves four, so my sweetheart and I each have dinner and a grab-and-go lunch with very little effort.
Don't be shy with the ginger! I uses pieces that are longer than my thumb and about twice as wide. The three-step recipe is really straightforward: Start your pot of rice first, and in about 20 minutes you'll have tasty, simple weeknight meal.
Weeknight Gingery Broccoli Beef Stir-Fry
Course: Main Dish, Quick + Easy
Season: All Season
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
Preparation: Fast + Easy, One Pot/One Pan
Total Time: 28 minutesminutes
Author: Pam Spettel
Using ground beef in a classic broccoli beef stir-fry makes a fast, easy weeknight meal with amped up ginger for extra deliciousness.
In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, broth, sugar, and cornstarch until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set this sauce mixture aside.
Slice thick broccoli stems into thin coins. Cut thinner stems and florets into 1" - 2" pieces. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When it begins to shimmer add the stems and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until they have browned brown in places but are still bright green. Add the remaining broccoli pieces and stir-fry until they are bright green and have softened but remain slightly crisp. A little brown on the crowns is delicious! Remove to a plate.
Crumble the ground beef into the skillet and break into pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook over medium high heat until no pink remains. Use a microplane or other grater and grate the ginger and garlic into the meat. Add ¾ of the slices green onions and stir. Cook, stirring often, until the beef is well browned, about 10 minutes total for this step.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the cooked broccoli back into the skillet. Add the reserved soy mixture to the meat and broccoli, stirring until the sauce slightly thickens, about 2-3 minutes.
Serve the broccoli beef mixture over rice, and garnish with the remaining green onion slices.
I had forgotten how much I adored egg foo young. The recipe, "Eggs, Edamame, Bean Sprouts" in Nigel Slater's 2020 book, Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter opened my aroma memory floodgates. I was taken back to very special meals in Chinese restaurants as a child.
That sent me searching the phenomenal "Omnivore's Cookbook," with its hundreds of classic and modern Chinese dishes by Maggie Zhu. Her traditional egg foo young versions include the brown sauce I remember. Approachable recipes and interesting family history fill her beautiful blog.
This recipe is a mash-up of tradition and change. Omnivore's Kitchen for tradition. Greenfeast for the addition of edamame. My own addition of making the brown sauce mushroomy.
Making Egg Foo Young at Home
Maggie Zhu's trick for getting the omelette, as she calls it, thick and puffy is to use a fair amount of vegetable oil in the pan. Her recipes say to use between 2 and 8 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Less oil will give you a flatter, less puffy, less traditionally Chinese omelette, she says, and she is right. I found that 6 Tablespoons in my 8" skillet is perfect for that tall, puffy egg foo young that I remember having in Chinese restaurants. The extra oil helps the Chinese omelette become well-browned, with the slightest crusty crispness that is more traditional.
If mushrooms aren't your thing like they are mine, omit them. Instead of the water, substitute dark vegetable or chicken stock. Here's my recipe for a rich brown roasted vegetable stock.
The edamame is optional, or peas or finely chopped broccoli can be a substitute. Egg foo Young doesn't require animal protein, so leave that out if you'd like. Once you get the hang of it, you'll see that egg foo young is more of a method than a prescription. It can be filled with any number of things, just like a French-style omelette.
The resulting egg foo young is amazingly easy, restaurant take-out fast, and powerfully delicious. I hope you like it.
Egg Foo Young
Course: Breakfast + Brunch, Main Dish, Quick + Easy
Season: All Season
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian
Preparation: Fast + Easy
Total Time: 30 minutesminutes
Servings: 46" egg patties
A Chinese take-out favorite made in a flash at home. Fill your egg foo young with any number of fillings to suit your mood or what you have on hand.
⅓cupedamame, peas, or finely chopped broccoli, optional
3green onions, two finely chopped and one thinly sliced on the diagonal
1cupcooked shrimp, chicken, or ham, finely chopped, optional
salt and black or white pepper to taste
Cook the Sauce
In a small saucepan, use your fingers to break the dried mushrooms into small, irregular pieces and cover them with 1¼ cups hot water. Set aside for 15 minutes. Whisk all the remaining sauce ingredients into the saucepan with the mushrooms and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the sauce simmers and thickens, about 5-6 minutes. Keep warm.
Cook the Egg Pancakes
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a fork until well combined. Add the bell pepper, bean sprouts, chopped green onions, and shrimp, chicken or ham, if using. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil* in a small skillet over medium to medium high heat. Scoop about ½ cup of the egg mixture into the skillet. Fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining egg mixture. This should make about four 6" patties.
Serve with steamed short-grained rice, spooning the mushroom sauce over the top. Garnish with sliced green onion.
This recipe is adapted from Maggie Zhu at Omnivore's Kitchen. I thank her for her delicious blog and the step-by-step guidance in learning to cook Chinese dishes. *Maggie's recipe for egg foo young says to use between 2 and 8 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Less oil will give you a flatter, less puffy traditional omelette, she says, and she is right. I found that 6 Tablespoons in my 8" kitchen is perfect for that tall, puffy egg that I remember having in Chinese restaurants.
You’re in the right place! I’m Pam Spettel, home cooking expert and guide, and I’m here to show you how to break up with cooking and hospitality anxiety, learn how to use recipes as guides rather than strict rules, and let your cooking intuition and confidence soar.
Superpower: Dreaming up recipes that work, serving them to my friends and family, and writing little stories about how cooking them well is the same as loving well.
Inspiration: Ingredients! The fresh, colorful, fragrant, local, seasonal ingredients found in the Pacific Northwest are my creative medium.
Heroes: Local food and wine producers– the people who keep me, my family, and our community nourished and happy.