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Authentic Pepper Steak

Today, we are making Hangjiao Niuliu (杭椒牛柳). Hangjiao means Hangzhou pepper; it is a type of mild green pepper. Niuliu is the beef tenderloin. That is why the English name is so straightforward – pepper steak. This is a super easy but classic recipe. It takes about 15 minutes to cook.

As the name suggested, beef tenderloin is the ideal cut for this recipe. Cut it into 1/4 of an inch thick slabs. Then, slice each slab into 1/4 of an inch wide strips. Beef tenderloin is pretty expensive, so if you want to go with cheaper cuts, that is ok too, you just need to add 1/4 tsp of baking soda to the marinade to tenderize the meat.

280 grams of beef is enough to serve two people with some white rice. If you have a big family, you can double or triple the recipe.

Marinade the beef with 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 1.5 tsp of dark soy sauce, some black pepper to taste, and 1 tsp of cornstarch.

When you coat the meat with starch, it increases the chance of food sticking to the wok. Therefore, we will add a drizzle of cooking oil to cover everything so it will stick less.

Set that aside for 10 minutes. While waiting, we can prepare the peppers. Use a meat tenderizer to smash the pepper lightly. This way, it will allow the sodium and the beef flavor to infused into the peppers. Slice them with a 45-degree angle. It is actually hard to make authentic pepper steak because you can’t get Hang Zhou pepper in the USA. What I am using is this Korean long hot pepper which gives a similar taste. If you can’t handle spicy food, it is ok to use bell pepper.

Besides the chili, you will also need two cloves of garlic. Slice them thinly.

1/2 inch of ginger, slice it thinly as well.

Turn the heat to high and heat the wok until smoking hot. Add 1-2 tbsp of cooking oil. Lossen up the beef before adding it to the wok so they don’t tangle together. The wok is super-hot. You only need to stir this for a minute or two. I know that doesn’t sound like enough time to cook the meat through; that is because we will cook it furthermore. If the beef is fully cooked at this moment, it will be overcooked after we mix it with peppers.

Once all the beef is changed color, turn off the heat. Take the beef out. Be sure to tilt the wok so you can leave the oil in there.

Turn the heat back to medium-low. Toss in the garlic, ginger, and pepper. We will stir this for a few minutes. Add 3/4 tsp salt. Green peppers like that really need some salt to balance the spiciness and bring out the flavor.

Once they become a bit soft, you can introduce the beef back into the wok. Turn the heat to high. Add a few shakes of 5-spice powder or 13 spice powder. Drizzle some Chinese cooking wine from the side of the wok. The steam is going to mix all the flavors together. Keep stirring for a minute or 2. You are done.

This is a super easy but classic recipe. It takes about 15 minutes to cook. We normally serve it with white rice. The peppers are surprisingly delicious. It is slightly crunchy and absorbed the flavor of the meat – really nice. The beef is perfectly cooked – soft and tender.


  • this is really yumm , I add red & yellow bell peppers and any type of chilli available (usually fresh cayenne chilli ) and a whole red onion coarse chopped to bulk up as I dont eat much rice

    gavin on

  • Will Shishito peppers work for this recipe?

    Mike on

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