Beef and Ginger Stir-Fry

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I made this seemingly simple meal a few weeks ago, but mixed up the beef packages so instead of using one pound of skirt steak, I used two pounds of flank steak meant for the Bulgogi. The good news is that my Bulgogi turned out amazing with just one pound of skirt steak. I’ll never use flank steak for that recipe. The bad news is that my stir-fry turned into stir-steamed. The taste was good, but the color and texture was not what the recipe promised. A few nights ago, I made it again, but this time with the correct amount and type of steak. I expected amazing results. Well, let’s just say this blog is a personal one where I show my wins and my losses. Sometimes you think you end up with loss, but sometimes a loss is just something new, something you didn’t expect, and not a loss at all.

First, slice up your ingredients. Pat your meat dry and slice against the grain.

Beef and Ginger Stir-Fry

Now that you’ve sliced the meat, combine sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and salt to create a marinade. Let the steak sit in that for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice up a red onion into rings using a very sharp knife. If you use a dull knife, the onion might slip and that’s how you cut yourself. If you are still a bit nervous because your knife isn’t all that sharp or you just don’t like the idea of slicing a rolling object (I get that!), cut the onion in half and cut the onion in half slices, flat side down. For me, I was brave, but mainly because I just had my butcher sharpen my knives. BTW, if you need to sharpen your knives and you don’t know how, check to see if your supermarket’s butcher will do it for you for free or a small fee. It’s completely worth it.

And before I forget, be sure you are holding that onion with a clawed grip, knuckles slightly out. Your knuckles will prevent the sharp blade from reaching your fingers.

Beef and Ginger Stir-Fry

Finally, I peeled and sliced some ginger. If you ever wondered how to peel ginger, I learned a cool trick. No need for a vegetable peeler or knife. Use the edge of a spoon and scrape the peel off. It’s as simple as that!

To thinly slice the ginger, I pulled out my trusty mandolin because I wanted very thin slices that I knew I wasn’t skilled enough to do with a knife, no mater how sharp it is. Be sure to use the guard so you don’t slice your fingers. Ouch. If you don’t have a mandolin, consider buying one. I use mine all the time to slice carrots, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, and pretty much any veggie that you want thinly sliced. The alternative is to use your knife and slice as thinly as possible. It’s not the end of the world.

Beef and Ginger Stir-Fry

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet until it’s so hot that the soil is shimmering and there are wisps of smoke. I swear I did this, but apparently it was still not hot enough. When I added the meat to the hot pan, the temperature of my pan shot down and the meat steamed instead of browned. ARGH. I think I should have used a cast iron pan instead of a skillet. It probably wouldn’t have hurt turning up the heat to counter balance the temperature change. As I was standing there, swearing to myself, wishing for a do-over, I realized I could continue to make a trucker blush with my language or just go with it. I chose the latter. There’s no point of crying over spilled milk. Or steamed steak.

After a couple minutes, add your onion, ginger, lots of pepper, and a little water.

Beef and Ginger Stir-Fry

Cook, stirring often, until the onion is barely tender and the ginger is soft.

Now the secret ingredients. Call me crazy, but I would have never thought to add BUTTER to the pan. Really. Move over 90s, this is not a low-fat meal! Remove that pan from the heat, and add 3 tablespoons of butter (that’s almost a half a stick, people!), lemon juice (for acidity), and the rest of the soy sauce. Toss until the steak is coated with melted butter. Serve over rice.

Beef and Ginger Stir-Fry

Although the beef looks nothing like the glossy picture on BA, the beef was super tender and flavorful. The onions were not caramelized, but perfectly respectable. The ginger was not seen, but definitely heard. The boys gobbled it up and asked for seconds. Maybe a loss is sometimes a win. In this case, it’s not only a win, but a new dish.

Beef and Ginger Stir-Fry

Beef and Ginger Stir-Fry

Servings 4


  • 1 pound skirt steak trimmed of fat, sliced against the grain into 1/4-inch strips, patted dry
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 1 medium red onion sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
  • 3 inch ginger peeled and sliced very thinly
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • cooked rice for serving


  • Trim the steak of any excess fat. Slice steak into 1/4-inch strips and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • In a medium bowl, combine sugar, sesame oil, 1 tsp. soy sauce, and 1 tsp. salt. Add sliced steak strips, stir to coat, and let it sit for 20 minutes.
  • Slice onions into rounds with a sharp knife, and peel and thinly slice ginger using a manxdolin or sharp knife.
  • Place a large skillet over high heat. Pour in vegetable oil and swirl to coat bottom of pan. The oil should be shimmering and you should see some wisps of smoke. If the pan is not hot enough, the meat will steam instead of getting deeply browned.
  • Add the steak to the skillet in an even layer. It’s okay to crowd it a bit. Cook, undisturbed, until brown around the edges, about 2 minutes. Turn steak over and add onion, ginger, lots of pepper, and 1/3 cup water. Cook, tossing often, until onion is just tender and ginger is softened, about 2 minutes.
  • Remove skillet from heat and add butter, lemon juice, and remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Toss until butter is melted and coats steak. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
  • Serve over cooked rice.