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Hunan Beef Recipe

What Is The Difference Between Hunan Beef And Other Beef Dishes?

Hunan beef is the most popular type of beef dish found in China

The main ingredient of this dish is beef that has been marinated and then slow cooked for hours until tender.

While this method produces meat that is tender as can be, it takes quite a lot of time to cook, so you might want to consider another option if you’re looking for more convenience.

If you choose to use pre-made marinades or sauces instead of making your own, there are two different types of Hunan beef available on store shelves today – frozen and canned

You will find both kinds at grocery stores around the world.

The reason why these items exist is because they contain some form of stock or broth which gives them their rich flavor and texture when used as a base for cooking.

When choosing either one, the only real differences you should look out for are whether the item contains MSG (a common seasoning additive) and the amount of sodium per serving.

Both are pretty similar in terms of taste and consistency, but since you won’t have any control over how much salt goes into your food, we recommend avoiding anything labeled “low sodium” unless you plan on using it exclusively for savory foods like meats.

Another thing to note is that while you may see “beef” listed on the product packaging, not all of those products actually contain actual beef!

What Are The Key Ingredients In A Hunan Beef Recipe?

The main ingredient in this dish is called “Hunan” because it comes from China

The name of this restaurant is Hunan Beef House so you can imagine that the meat is cooked there

You get your choice of white or red meat.

It has marinated for 24 hours before cooking which allows the flavors to penetrate the beef

There are also some spices added during the marination process

These include star anise, cinnamon, fennel seed, clove, ginger, garlic, and black peppercorn.

You will find the following ingredients in this recipe:

  • Beef Flank Steak
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Yellow Onion
  • Fresh Garlic Cloves
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Worcester Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Chopped Cilantro

How Do You Make Hunan Beef?

The first step for this Hainan Beef Recipe starts by prepping all of your vegetables so that they don’t get mushy when cooked.

After chopping up your onion, bell peppers, garlic, and cilantro into tiny pieces, put them into separate bowls before adding olive oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, and 1/4 cup water each time.

Next, add sliced flank steak to a pan over high heat on the stovetop

Cook it until browned.

While the meat is cooking, pour 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil into another pot and place it on the stove top

When hot, throw in diced onions and cook them until tender but not mushy.

Add chopped bell peppers next and sauté those until soft and slightly charred.

Once everything has been added to the pan, toss together everything in one bowl before pouring the mixture back onto the skillet again

Stir well and then continue to cook over high heat until the liquid reduces down and coats the bottom of the skillet.

Finally, season the beef dish with salt and pepper as needed before serving.

What Is The History Of Hunan Beef?

Hunan beef, or Huanbei, was developed in the central city of Changsha during the late 1800s by a group of Cantonese immigrants who came from Guangdong province.

The dish’s name comes from its creator, Chen Guofu, whose family originated from Hunan province

The original recipe calls for ground beef but today it’s more common to use flank steak because it has less fat than other cuts

And that makes this dish healthier!

The first restaurants opened in Shanghai in 1913, and they were very popular until World War II when Japan invaded China

Many people fled their homes and went into hiding.

When the war ended, many returned home hungry for food

So restaurants started up again, and one of the most famous ones was called “Hui Beef Restaurant.” Today there are still a few Hui Beef restaurants around town, but you can also find it at Panda Express.

In addition to serving traditional dishes like Hunan beef, these restaurants have become known as an excellent place to get authentic Chinese cuisine

They serve everything from seafood to egg rolls, and some even offer dim sum on Sundays

If you want to try out the best Hunan beef recipe online, here’s how you can order takeout!

Where Did Hunan Beef Originate?

Hunan beef was originally developed by a chef in China’s Hunan province who wanted to perfect his version of American barbecue

While he had never been there before, this chef knew that the best barbecued meat came from Texas.

When the chef returned home after a trip to America, he discovered that Americans were not as impressed with his Hunan beef as they should have been

The reason for this was simple – the original Hunan beef was too dry and lacked flavor.

To rectify these issues, the chef added more liquid into his dish, but it still wasn’t good enough

So, at last, he decided to add some soy sauce to give his dish its distinctive flavor

After trying out different amounts of soy sauce until he found the right amount, the chef finally perfected his Hunan beef recipe.

Because of this, Hunan beef has become one of the most popular dishes on restaurant menus across China today.

The name “Hunan beef” comes from where this dish originated, which is the city of Changsha in southern Hunan province

Because of this, Hunan beef also became known as “Changsha beef” or “Southern Hunan beef.”

(Note: In English, the word “beef” can be translated as any kind of red meat.)

Who Created Hunan Beef?

The story of Hunan beef is one that has been passed down through generations in China.

It’s said to be the secret weapon used by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek during his war against Japan

The generalissimo was so fond of this dish that he would serve it for breakfast every morning before leading an attack on Japanese soldiers.

Hunan beef was originally cooked over a campfire, but now you can find it at restaurants all around the world

In America, it’s often found as part of a Chinese restaurant menu or sold frozen from supermarkets.

Today we’re going to show you how to cook your own version of Hunan beef.

How Popular Is Hunan Beef?

Hunan beef has been around since the 1940s when it was first served in China, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that it became more widely known.

It took time for people outside of China to realize this dish had such an impact on them

Since then, many chefs have tried their hand at creating new variations of the classic dish

These include adding different vegetables like broccoli or asparagus, using other cuts of meat instead of flank, and even cooking it differently by grilling the pieces.

In America, it’s not uncommon to see restaurants serving Hunan beef as well as its various spinoffs

In fact, there are so many varieties available today that you can easily find one that suits your taste.

You might be wondering how popular Hunan beef actually is among Americans

Well, according to the National Restaurant Association, it ranks second only to California cuisine in popularity! But what does that really mean? Here’s everything you need to know about this iconic Chinese dish.

What Are Some Common Side Dishes To Serve With Hunan Beef?

The most commonly served side dishes in China include vegetables like spinach or bok choy, as well as rice, noodles, and other grain

In this section of our guide we will discuss what types of side dishes you can find when eating Hunan beef.


Chinese people often eat green leafy vegetables, especially spinach

If you have the opportunity to try Hunan beef at your next meal, it’s likely that they will also offer you some fresh greens

Spinach is typically steamed or sautéed in garlic butter until wilted, then dressed with sesame oil

Some people add white wine while others don’t use any alcohol at all

The key here is to not overcook it so much that it becomes mushy.


You may see broccoli on more than one occasion if you enjoy Hunan beef

Broccoli is usually blanched before cooking to remove its bitterness

When cooked, it should be crisp but still maintain a bright color

To prepare broccoli, cut off the ends of each stalk and peel away the tough outer skin

Then chop into bite size pieces and cook in boiling water for 3 minutes

Drain and set aside.


If you love carrots, you might find them on the menu quite frequently

Carrot is often prepared by peeling and chopping it into cubes or slices

You can either steam it whole or slice it lengthwise before adding it to a pan of hot oil

Once the carrot has been sliced, you will need to drain the excess liquid and allow it to cool down before serving it

Other methods of preparation include roasting it in salt, grilling it over an open flame, or frying it in a wok.

Green Beans

Green beans are another vegetable that appears regularly in many Asian recipes

They are a great option because they can be eaten raw or lightly boiled

They do require careful attention since their texture changes from firm to tender depending on how long you boil them

For example, if you undercook them, they become crunchy instead of soft

As a result, they tend to disappear after only a few bites.

To prepare green beans, first trim off the stem end and cut off the string along the inside of the bean

Cut the stem end in half and place it face up on a cutting board

Using a knife, carefully slice through the center of each pod to create 2 halves

Place these pods on a microwave safe plate and cover with plastic wrap

Microwave for 5 seconds per pod to soften it slightly

Remove the plastic wrap and let the pods sit for 1 minute.

Next, rinse them thoroughly under running water to get rid of any remaining seeds

Let them dry completely before using

If you prefer, you can soak them overnight in a bowl filled with cold water

After soaking, drain them and proceed with the recipe above.

Shiitake Mushrooms

When you order Hunan beef, there is a good chance that you will receive mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are among the most popular varieties in China

They come in both dried and fresh forms

Fresh shiitakes must be soaked in warm water for 15 minutes or longer prior to cooking

Dried ones can be used immediately without prepping.

To prepare shiitake mushrooms, first clean them thoroughly under running water

Trim the stems and discard the caps

Slice the mushroom flesh into thin strips

Next, put the slices in a large pot and fill it halfway full with enough water

Bring it to a simmer on high heat and reduce the heat to low

Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally

Strain out the solids and reserve the stock.

Stir Fry Vegetables

A common side dish found at every Hunan beef restaurant is a simple stir fry

A typical ingredient list includes onions, eggplant, bamboo shoots, and cabbage or napa cabbage

Depending on which region you visit, you may also see red peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, or sweet potato

Stir fries are generally cooked quickly in a wok or skillet

They are best enjoyed when piping hot.


Hunan beef doesn’t always feature rice

However, it does almost always have it available

Rice is essential to any Chinese meal, as it provides a foundation upon which everything else rests

There are different types of rice that you can use to prepare your own meals

These include sticky rice, glutinous rice, short grain rice, and wild rice

All of these varieties of rice are interchangeable as long as they are all cooked according to the same method.

What Are Some Tips For Making The Perfect Hunan Beef Dish?

To make this meal at home you’ll need to start by preparing your ingredients

The meat should be cut into thin strips or cubes, while the vegetables will require larger pieces.

The next thing you want to do is marinate the meat in soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce

You also may add other seasonings such as garlic powder, onion powder, or cayenne pepper if desired.

Next, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat

Once hot, sear the meat on all sides until it turns golden brown

Remove from pan and set aside.

Now that the meat has been seared, you can move onto the vegetable portion of the preparation

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sautee the onions and bell peppers until they become tender

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Once both vegetables have turned light green, reduce the temperature of the stove and then return the meat to the skillet

Add the steamed veggies back into the pan along with the chopped garlic and balsamic vinegar

Cook everything together until the liquid evaporates and the vegetables turn slightly caramelized.

Add the seasoned meat back to the pan, remove from heat, and garnish the top of the dish with fresh cilantro.

If you like spicy food, try adding some crushed red chilies or dried chipotle chili flakes to give your meal an extra kick!

Are there any variations of Hunan beef? If so

The original version of this Huan Beef was developed by Chef Hung Jai Cheng in his restaurant The Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong

He named it after the region where he grew up.

Chefs all over China have since adapted this classic recipe into their own versions

Some chefs added more vegetables or meat while others kept the ingredients simple but still created an amazing meal

Here’s how you can create your very own variation of Hunan beef.

what are they?

I love the flavors of Hunan beef but I don’t have much time in my day to cook it often because it takes hours.

What if you could just chop up some ingredients and throw them into your wok or skillet and let that do all the work for you?

That’s exactly what this recipe does! This Huan Beef Recipe will take about 10 minutes from start to finish and can be ready in less than 30 minutes

No chopping required!

The flavor of this dish comes from the homemade Hunan Sauce which has sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and savory notes

The meat itself is lean and tender making it perfect for stir fries.

If you want to learn more about how to prepare Hunan beef recipes then check out these links below:

  • How To Make A Quick & Easy Stir Fry With Flank Steak
  • How To Cook Flank Steaks Like A Pro
  • How To Peel Garlic Without Burning Your Hands

Hunan Beef Recipe

Hunan beef is the most popular type of beef dish found in China
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Hunan Beef Recipe
Servings: 3
Calories: 385kcal


  • Pan


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound flank steak thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup celery thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 cup canned baby corn
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons chili paste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


  • In a big pan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat.
  • Season the steak with salt and pepper to taste and add it to the pan in a single layer.
  • Cook each side for 3–4 minutes, or until browned. If necessary, cook in multiple batches.
  • Place the steak on a platter after removing it from the pan. To remain warm, cover.
  • Broccoli, celery, and bell pepper should be added to the pan. Cook the vegetables for 4-5 minutes, or until they are soft. To taste, add salt and pepper to the food. Add the baby corn and stir. Cook for a further 30 seconds after adding the garlic.
  • Reintroduce the beef to the pan along with the vegetables.
  • Beef broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, honey, chili paste, and cornstarch should all be combined in a small basin.
  • Place the meat and vegetables in the sauce, then boil. Cook until sauce has thickened, about 1-2 minutes. If preferred, immediately serve over rice.



Calories: 385kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 1254mg | Potassium: 994mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1732IU | Vitamin C: 84mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 4mg
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