Last week, I had a hankering for Pepper Steak. I don’t know why, I just know that I did. I’ve never made Pepper Steak before, but I’ve never let that bother me.
Pepper Steak is often on offer at Chinese restaurants. I’m positive that what I made is not the least bit authentic (please, anyone of you who are of Chinese descent, don’t hate me!), but it was yummy and has earned a repeat spot on our menu.
Pepper Steak traditionally calls for green bell peppers, although you could use any color pepper you wanted. I generally tend to use green bell peppers for almost anything calling for bell pepper because they are a more affordable price than their riper, sweeter red and yellow counterparts.
As Wikipedia tells us:
Bell pepper, also known as sweet pepper or capsicum, is a cultivar group of the species Capsicum annuum (chili pepper). Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, and orange. The fruit is also frequently consumed in its unripe form, when the fruit is still green. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as “sweet peppers.”
Any variety of bell pepper — green, red, or yellow — is mild (no heat to it at all), and the varieties can pretty much be used interchangeably in recipes.
Seeing as I’d never made this before, I reviewed my cookbooks and Google recipes for inspiration. I rounded the meal out with egg drop soup; an easy version of brown-fried rice made with eggs, green onion, and a handful of peas; and store-bought veggie egg rolls.
I healthied the dish up by
- using reduced-sodium soy sauce;
- cooking in a non-stick skillet, thereby reducing the amount of oil needed; and
- trimming the heck out of the sirloin steak.
You could also use reduced-sodium beef broth.
Some of the recipes I came across suggested finishing the dish off with slices of seeded tomato; others didn’t. While the sliced tomato most definitely does not seem to be an authentic Asian touch, I had some tomato that needed to be used, so I included it — and it certainly made the dish look festive! (I saved the tomato flesh and whizzed it up in my wee food processor to be used in some meatloaf.)
However you make it — with tomato or without — it smells so yummy that I bet you’ll be more than tempted at one point to start singing the “Dr. Pepper: I’m a Pepper” song 😉 (Go on, take 61 seconds out of your life to enjoy this commercial — you know you want you!)
Pepper Steak (Makes 6 servings)
- 1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak
- 2 large or 3 small bell peppers (suggest green, but red or yellow would work, also), seeded and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 medium onion, sliced (I cut into 8ths, then cut each 8th in half and separate the onion pieces)
- Minced garlic to taste
- Ginger (grated/minced fresh or powder) to taste
- Red pepper flakes to taste, if desired (adds a bit of heat)
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup beef broth
- 2 to 4 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- Couple healthy splashes of vinegar (suggest rice wine vinegar)
- 1 or 2 tablespoons (eye-ball it) honey
- 3 medium (or 4 or 5 small) tomatoes, seeded, if desired
- Oil for cooking (suggest sesame oil, but canola will work, also)
- Cut beef against grain into thin (1/4″ wide) strips, trimming away fat. NOTE: Beef will trim easiest if partially frozen.
- Toss beef with a tablespoon or so of cornstarch, a tablespoon or so of soy sauce, and ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if desired) and let it all hang out together for 15 to 45 minutes.
- For the stir fry sauce, stir together beef broth, 1 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch, splash or two of vinegar, a tablespoon or two of soy sauce, and a tablespoon or two of vinegar.
- Lightly season (or heat a small amount of oil) in a non-stick skillet and heat over medium to medium-high heat. Stir fry onion, then add in bell pepper, until onion and bell pepper are crisp-tender. Remove from skillet and reserve.
- Heat a small amount of oil in the same non-stick skillet. Stir fry seasoned beef and any accumulated juices until tender and no longer pink, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add in minced garlic to taste and stir fry for another couple of minutes.
- Stir in the stir fry sauce and the onion/pepper mixture (and any accumulated juices) and boil/simmer sauce, stirring constantly, until desired thickness is achieved. (Add in more liquid — beef broth or water — if too thick; add in a bit more cornstarch mixed in with liquid if too thin.)
- Remove from heat. Transfer to serving platter, if desired. Top with sliced tomato, if desired. Serve with rice.
- Refrigerate leftovers.