October 21, 2013

Recipe: Chinese Beef-less Broccoli Stir-fry

 Last week I was craving Chinese take-out like nobody's business. I was not, however, craving the stomach ache I am often plagued with after consuming its glorious, greasy goodness. I've made a couple "homemade take-out" dishes before (namely Vegan Pad Thai and Kung Pao Tofu) and been really happy with them, so I decided to give another classic take-out dish a go - Beef with Broccoli.

Beef with Broccoli is a stir-fry dish common in Chinese restaurants in the States. It's simple and flavorful - seared strips of beef and tender-crisp broccoli florets are stir-fried in a glossy dark sauce and served over rice. To make a vegan version, I replaced the beef with slices of portobello mushroom caps, which have a juicy, "meaty" chew when seared in a nice hot pan. The sauce is a crazy-simple concoction of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar (standing in for harder-to-find Chinese Black Vinegar) thickened with a traditional cornstarch slurry. A bit of garlic and ginger bring the dish together with their pungent, spicy kick.

The dish takes all of 15 minutes, giving you just enough time to cook up a small pot of white rice or quinoa to serve alongside it. Faster than ordering take-out, just as tasty, and WAY better for you. Weeknight dinner win, yes?

Chinese Beef-less Broccoli Stir-fry
Serves 2-3

2 large portobello mushroom caps
1/2 pound broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons high-heat cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger (I use a microplane)

For the Sauce:
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

To prepare the mushrooms, pop off the stems and scoop out the gills with a spoon. Slice each mushroom cap in half, then slice each half into 1/2-inch wide strips (see photo above for reference). Set aside for the moment. To make the sauce, add cornstarch and water to a small bowl, stirring to dissolve cornstarch before adding soy sauce, vinegar, and pepper. Stir to combine, then set aside.

Bring a large pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Once hot, add the broccoli and water, cover immediately, and steam for 3 minutes (broccoli will be bright green but crisp). Transfer broccoli to a colander and return empty pan to heat.

Add oil to pan and swirl to coat. When oil is shimmering, add sliced mushrooms in an even layer (trying not to overlap) and cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, until mushrooms have nicely seared. Flip slices, then cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, tossing occassionally, until mushrooms are deeply golden on all sides and tender. Just before the mushrooms are done, add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant (30-60 seconds). Return the broccoli to the pan, followed by the sauce. Sauce will thicken almost immediately, so quickly toss to coat the mushrooms and broccoli and promptly remove from heat. Serve with rice or quinoa.


  1. Hubby loved the shrooms. I would have liked more sauce.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks for the feedback! I'm definitely a light-on-the-sauce gal, so feel free to double the sauce recipe to suit your tastes. :) I'm glad your husband enjoyed it!