Chinese Beef with Cumin

Chinese Beef with CuminChinese Beef with Cumin might sound a bit contradictory as cumin is not a typically Chinese spice but it actually is commonly used in some North Eastern regions. Remember that China is a massive country that shares land borders with many others so its influences extend far more than what you might think from looking at the local takeaway menu. That doesn’t offer a whole lot of insight into authentic Chinese cooking except to show how it has been bastardised by the West. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bastardised Chinese takeaway as much as the next person and a whole lot more than a bastardised Indian takeaway, but they are bastards! The JustEat website has more bastards than Doran (Game of Thrones reference – because of my withdrawals).

The cumin, we know, goes well with chilli but it also is delicious with the more typically Chinese shauxing and soy sauces and they make for an explosive sauce to wrap around the Chinese beef. I used trimmed sirloin but use whatever steak you like. I would keep it to typical steak cuts though as something like brisket would need low and slow cooking and would be incredibly tough if cooked this way.

This recipe is based on one by Fuchsia Dunlop who really knows her stuff. British-born, she was the first westerner to train as a chef at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine.

Chinese Beef with Cumin


  • 500g sirloin steak
  • 2tbsp shauxing wine
  • 1 pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 3tbsp water
  • 1tbsp potato flour, or plain flour
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 1 red chillies, deseed for less heat
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 30g ginger, grated
  • 4tsp cumin seeds, crushed
  • 2tsp cilli flakes
  • 4 spring onion greens, chopped
  • 3-4tbsp cooking oil
  • 2tsp toasted sesame seed oil


  1. Trim the fat from the beef and slice the steaks into narrow strips.
  2. Mix together the shauxing, salt, soy sauces, water and flour really well before you pour it over the sliced beef and allow to marinate for at least an hour.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and pour in the beef and marinade, stir-fry for a few minutes just until the beef has lightened in colour.
  4. Then transfer the beef to a bowl and set aside until later.
  5. Add another 2-3 tbsp of oil to the wok if needs be, followed by the ginger and garlic.
  6. Stir fry for 30 seconds before you add the red and green peppers and the fresh chillies.
  7. Stir fry for 2 minutes before you return the beef to the wok before you add the cumin and chilli flakes.
  8. Stir fry for another 2 minutes before you add the spring onion greens, stir, turn off the heat and stir in the sesame seeds oil.
  9. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with boiled basmati rice.
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