Best Stir-fry: Pepper Beef and Mangetout


To master the art of stir frying is the way to cooking great tasting and healthy food in a hurry.

The key, as in all cooking, is in the preparation. If everything is ready to add before you begin, the food will be on the plate in minutes. Don’t bother and you’ll be a stressed out wreck before you can even pick up your chop sticks!

To get started, this is definitely one of my favourites. It’s a version of a dish that is popular in Chinese restaurants in the West. The bonus is that you really can’t cook as tasty a dish as this so simply. And this recipe is extra versatile because it’s possible to substitute any fresh vegetable for the mangetout, aka snow peas.

To get the best out of these ingredients you really should put the effort in to find some authentic Shaoxing rice wine. It is one of the most famous varieties of huangjiu, or traditional Chinese wine, and is available in most good sized supermarkets. If you find this impossible, then you can use a dry sherry instead.

Stir-fried Pepper Beef and Mangetout can be served with either plain steamed rice, or noodles (I like Fine Egg Noodles).

This recipe serves four people.


450g beef steak, sliced

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine

2 teaspoons sesame oil

½  teaspoon salt

¼  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons cornflour

100g red or green pepper

3 tablespoons groundnut oil

225g trimmed mangetout

150ml chicken stock

2 tablespoons oyster sauce


  1. The beef needs to be cut into slices that are thin and about 5cms in length. Then these should be tossed in a bowl with light soy sauce, along with Shaoxing rice wine, the sesame oil, pepper, salt, and the cornflour. When this has been mixed well it should be left to marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the pepper into strips again about 5cms in length.
  3. Heat your wok (a large frying pan can suffice) until it is very hot.
  4. Add the oil until it’s hot and slightly smoking.
  5. With a slotted spoon, remove the beef from the marinade, and add it to the smoking pan and stir-fry for three minutes.
  6. Remove the beef slices, which should still be succulent, drain and reserve the oil.
  7. Wipe the wok clean, and reheat it.
  8. Return 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan and add the pepper and mangetout when it is very hot.
  9. Stir-fry for two minutes. Then add the oyster sauce and the stock. Bring it all to a boil.
  10. Add the beef back to the pan and give it a good stir.
  11. Turn on to a warm serving plate and serve at once.