Fuchsia Dunlop’s stir-fried beef with peppers and cumin

This recipe comes from Fuchsia Dunlop’s book Every Grain Of Rice, but I have doubled the amount of peppers used, because I like the sweet crunch of stir-fried peppers.

As Ms Dunlop writes;

Cumin is not a typical spice in mainstream Chinese cookery. I came across the original version of this sensational recipe in a restaurant in Hunan called Guchengge, and it became one of the most popular in my Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook.

This version is slightly different because of the addition of red and green peppers.


250 g trimmed beef steak (I used skirt)
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
4 tablespoons of groundnut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
2 spring onions, green parts only, finely sliced
1 teaspoon sesame oil

For the marinade

1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons light soy sauce
3/4 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons potato flour

Cut the beef into thin bite-sized slices. Stir the marinade ingredients with one and a half tablespoons of water and mix well into the meat. Trim the peppers and cut them into strips 1-2cm wide, then diagonally into lozenge-shaped slices.

Add 3 tablespoons of the oil to a seasoned wok over a high flame and swirl it around. Add the beef and stir-fry briskly to separate the slices. When the slices have separated but are still a bit pink, remove them from the wok and set aside.

Return the wok to the flame with the remaining oil. Add the ginger and garlic and allow them to sizzle for a few seconds to release their fragrances, then tip in the peppers and stir-fry until hot and fragrant. Return the beef slices to the wok, give everything a good stir, then add the cumin and dried chilli flakes. When all is sizzlingly fragrant and delicious, add the spring onions and toss briefly.

Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.

I served this with plain steamed Thai fragrant rice and a simple stir-fry of shredded Chinese leaves, julienne carrots and the white parts of some spring onions with a couple of finely chopped deseeded red chillies, some chopped garlic and ginger and a splash of oyster sauce.

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