This Chinese classic dish is easy to make and packed with flavor. Tender slices of beef are coated in a black pepper flavored sauce for an easy stir fry that is ready in less than 30 minutes. This is one of my favorite dishes to order at a Chinese restaurant and this recipe tastes just as good.
A few weeks ago, I shared my recipe for Chinese Pepper Steak, a Chinese-American dish that is similar to Black Pepper Beef. Both are easy stir fry dishes that feature beef and bell peppers. However, while Pepper Steak gets its name for its use of bell peppers, Black Pepper Beef gets its name from its use of ground black pepper.
Adding black pepper adds a punch of flavor. I love ordering this when we go to a Chinese restaurant, but lately I’ve been making it at home and I think this homemade version is just as tasty.
Choosing the Right Cut of Beef
While most Chinese beef stir-fry dishes use flank steak, for this dish, I recommend that a more premium cut of beef be used. Top loin steak, ribeye, or even filet mignon are all good options. These more premium cuts of beef are more tender and will let the beef be the star.
The beef here is sliced thicker than normal, so it feels like you are eating bites of steak, which is another reason why a premium cut of beef is better.
Additional Beef Tips
- When slicing the beef, make sure to slice the beef against the grain. Find which direction the muscle fibers are running through the meat and slice across them rather than parallel to them.
- The other key to keeping the beef tender is cornstarch. The beef is coated in cornstarch before it cooks. This provides the beef with a protective layer of coating to prevent it from getting tough as it cooks.
Black Pepper Steak Marinade
The sauce for this beef is very simple. It’s made of cornstarch, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine, and ground black pepper. The beef marinates in the sauce for about 15 minutes before cooking, so that the sauce flavors thoroughly soak into the beef.
Vegetables in Black Pepper Beef
Black pepper beef usually includes onions and bell peppers as well. The crispy vegetables provide a good textural contrast to the tender beef and keep the sauce from being too salty.
The peppers and onions can be sliced vertically to match the beef strips, but more commonly I see them sliced into small square pieces.
Black Pepper Beef
- 1 lb top loin steak (or ribeye) sliced into strips about 1/4 inch thick
- 1 tbsp cooking oil like olive oil
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/2 medium onion cut into small squares
- 1 green bell pepper seeds remove and cut into squares
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1/2 tbsp rice cooking wine (shaoxing wine)
- Add beef to a large bowl. Add in marinade ingredients. Toss beef until it is evenly mixed and coated in marinade ingredients. Allow beef to marinate for about 15 minutes.
- Add cooking oil to a large skillet or wok and bring to medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add in the garlic and cook until lightly browned. Add in onions and peppers. Cook until vegetables are about halfway cooked.
- Add in beef. Toss and cook with peppers and onions until beef and vegetables are completely cooked. If needed, you can add more soy sauce or salt, but I didn't need to.
- The beef slices should be thicker than typical stir fry, about 1/4 inch (or slightly more) thick.
- Make sure to slice the beef against the grain.
- Use a premium cut of beef like top loin or ribeye.
- Cornstarch is used to both keep the beef tender and to thicken the sauce.
- Cornstarch is not usually allowed in a low carb diet, but this dish uses a very small amount, so it may be okay for some low carb diets.
- Oyster sauce can be substituted with soy sauce if you don't have oyster sauce or are trying to keep this low carb. The sauce won't taste exactly the same, but it will be close.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.