Roped, Saddled and Tamed

Here I am… still awake at 7 in the morning and have nothing to post.  I am empty handed…

I had a whole week to think about what I was going to post today.  But all of my ideas lead me nowhere.  I managed to write a 1500 word easy on one subject: divorce, which took  me several hours.  I cited examples using several couples we knew – including family and friends who have gotten divorce, but it didn’t feel right.  So in the end, I decided to stash it somewhere –  for my eyes only.

Sometimes… writing comes easy when I write from the heart.  But there are times when my mind wants to run.  It wants to do whatever it wants to do, other than what it needs to do.   It acts like a wild horse that needs to be roped, saddled and tamed…

So I decided to just post something… something I have cooked hundreds of times before and one of my husband’s favorite Chinese food – Hot Pepper Beef.  I have made many improvements since I first cooked this dish and posted the recipe over three years ago.  So I thought I’d be nice to share it with you…

As with most Chinese dishes… there are certain things you’d have to do to get the same results that Chinese restaurants do.  They use specific techniques like blanching marinated meats in hot oil… and stir frying at a very high heat.

I’ve adopted some of those techniques in this recipe.  It is a bit time consuming to do, especially if I am doubling the recipe… but my husband loves Hot Pepper Beef so I cook this for him at least once every two weeks…  It’s better to prepare this dish if you have an extra time to spare… maybe on Friday nights…

NOTE:  If you do not or cannot eat hot and spicy foods… simply omit all the hot peppers from the marinade and the sauce.

New and Improved Hot Pepper Beef


  • 2 pounds top sirloin steaks
  • Marinade – see below
  • 1 large red or yellow onion – cut into bite sizes
  • 1 large green bell pepper – seeds removed and cut into bite size pieces
  • Sauce – see below

Step 1: Marinating the Beef

  • 2 pounds top sirloin steaks – sliced thinly into 1 x 2 inch strips
  • Marinade:
  • 3 TBSPs. medium dry sherry or rice wine (I use white wine if I don’t have sherry or rice wine in stock)
  • 3 TBSPs. Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground hot pepper – use according to your ‘heat’ tolerance
  • ¼ tsp. msg (optional)
  • 3 TBSPs. Cornstarch + 3 TBSPs. Water
  • 4 cups vegetable oil for blanching

Wash the steaks and squeeze off excess liquid.  Slice them into 1 x 2 inch thick strips.  Place in a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine medium dry sherry, soy sauce, salt, baking soda, ground black and hot pepper and msg.  In yet another small bowl, combine cornstarch and water and stir until smooth.  Add cornstarch mixture to the  marinade mixture.

Pour marinade over the beef, and mix until beef absorbs most of the marinade.

Marinade beef overnight in the refrigerator or 30 minutes at room temperature.

Step 2:  Blanching the Beef

Heat the wok and add the cooking oil.  Heat oil until  until it reaches 300°F. (I always use a candy thermometer to be sure…)

Drizzle two tablespoons of vegetable oil – not hot oil – over the steaks and toss to loosen or separate them. Divide the steaks into 4 portions…

Blanch steaks in the heated oil, one portion at a time, for about 5 – 7 minutes or until steaks turn brown but not burned.

Remove steaks with a slotted spoon or skimmer and drain on paper towels. (I use a skimmer with a bamboo handle which I bought at an Oriental store for less $10.)

Be sure to bring the oil back up to 300°F before continuing with the next batch.

Finish blanching the rest of the steaks following the same process.

Remove all, but 2 tablespoons oil from the wok.

Step 3: Making the Sauce

  • 6 garlic cloves – peeled and minced
  • 1 inch piece ginger – peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 – 10 fresh or dried hot peppers
  • 3 stalks green onions – chopped
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 TBSPs. brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP. dry sherry or white wine
  • 1 tsp. ground hot pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 TBSP. Cornstarch + 1 TBSP. water

Combine soy sauce, water, sugar, sherry, hot pepper, and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisk until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved.

Using the same wok… heat two tablespoons oil and sauté the garlic, ginger and hot peppers, and green onions for a few minutes or until garlic turns light golden brown and hot peppers dark red.

Stir the sauce and pour over the sautéed garlic, ginger, hot pepper and green onions.  Bring the sauce to boil over medium high heat, while stirring constantly.

Reduce heat to medium and add the blanched beef into the sauce. Stir until beef are coated well with the sauce. Reduce heat and simmer steaks for 5  minutes.

Stir in the onions and bell peppers.  Stir until combined well with the beef and coated with the sauce.

Remove wok from the heat and serve.

Serve hot pepper beef with rice or egg noodles.  (Cook egg noodles as directed on the package.)

Tess’ Kitchen Secrets:

#1:  Marinate the beef overnight – in the refrigerator.  Marinating tenderizes the meat.

#2: Baking soda and msg are good tenderizers

#3: Blanching the marinated beef at 300°F until brown or caramel in color

#3: I grind my own hot peppers.  I buy dried hot peppers from Asian stores; which usually comes in a plastic bag.  First I put them in a blender to grind them coarsely and to break up whole pieces.  Second, I grind them again using a Cuisinart Coffee Grinder into a finer powder.  My Cuisinart Coffee Grinder is only used for grinding spices.

The beef should look like these after they have been blanched in hot oil.

Hot Pepper Beef – the finished product.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking!


6 thoughts on “Roped, Saddled and Tamed

  1. We made this recipe last week & it was awesome. You know me so we left out the hot pepper but the dish was perfect.

    Thnx Tess 🙂

  2. Hey….That beef looks really good Tess. And I even learn something today. I never knew baking soda could be used as a tenderizer. I agree with you Tess. Sometimes we think we are so focus, and know the next step, and how to proceed, only to find ours minds wandering way off topic. Maybe someday you’ll find a way to tie in your previous posting that you stashed away. Willie is so lucky to have such a great cook around 🙂

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