Szechuan Beef Recipe

Szechuan Spicy Beef
Getty Images/Sarah Bossert
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 3 to 4 servings
Ratings (21)

In this Szechuan recipe, the beef is dry fried, making it chewy and crispy.

If you like, you can replace one of the carrots with 1/2 cup of celery that has been strung and cut julienne-style.

Feel free to make the dish hotter by adding more chili paste or sauce if desired. 

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound beef (flank or sirloin steak is good)
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 scallions (white parts only)
  • 1 tablespoon sweet bean sauce (or substitute  hoisin sauce)
  • 3 teaspoons chili paste or chili sauce
  • 7 1/2 tablespoons oil for stir-frying (or as needed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ​roasted Szechuan peppercorns

How to Make It

  1. Cut the beef julienne style, across the grain, into thin slices less than 1/4-inch thick and 2 1/2 to 3 inches long.
  2. Wash, peel and julienne the carrots into thin strips about 1/8-inch thick and 2 1/2 to 3 inches long. Mince the ginger. Cut the scallion into lengths about 2 1/2 inches long, and then into thin shreds.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the bean sauce and chili paste or chili sauce. Set aside.
  4. Heat the wok on medium-high heat for at least 30 seconds. (The wok is ready when you can feel the heat when holding the palm of your hand 2 to 3 inches above the wok's surface.)
  1. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the heated wok by drizzling it down the sides. When the oil is hot, add the julienned carrots. Stir fry for 2 minutes, stirring in the salt. (Do not brown the carrots.) Remove from the wok.
  2. Heat remaining 6 tablespoons of oil in the wok over medium-high to high heat. When the oil is hot, add the beef.
  3. Stir fry for approximately 10 minutes, until the beef is crispy and dark brown and chewy (you will hear the beef sizzle as it dries out). Splash the beef with the rice wine or dry sherry during the later stages of cooking.
  4. Push the beef up to the sides and drain all but 2 tablespoons from the wok. Add the bean sauce and chili paste or sauce mixture. Stir fry for a few seconds, then add the ginger and scallions. Stir fry for a few seconds, until aromatic, then return the carrots to the wok.
  5. Stir in the sugar and the roasted Szechuan peppercorns. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Serve hot.

Dry Frying Technique

In many Asian recipes, a technique known as dry frying is used. This means to cook an item in a large amount of hot oil to dry out the interior moisture to concentrate the flavor.

After the initial drying stage, the food item is briefly stir fried with other seasonings and ingredients. The dried item soaks up all the flavors of the sauce to make a superior dish.