Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry

4.75 from 24 votes
4 hours 45 minutes
Jump To Recipe

Here’s a quick and tasty weeknight or date night dinner that can be pulled together quickly. Best of all, Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry can be made with ingredients found in any grocery store!

Go all out and serve with Beer Batter Shishito Pepper Tempura with Spicy Garlic Dipping Sauce as an appetizer and Chocolate Avocado Mousse for dessert.

Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry in cast iron wok on bright blue background.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper:

We live too far away from restaurants to enjoy the convenience of take-out or home delivery when life happens.  If we’re in the mood for Asian food, it’s a good 20-minute drive and often not something we feel like doing on a moment’s notice — especially after a long day.

A well-stocked pantry is how we pull off an authentic Asian-inspired meal when the craving hits like this Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir Fry. Check out the list of basic Asian pantry ingredients in Chef Tips and Tricks below.

Besides being delicious, Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry is versatile, too! Try snow peas, broccoli or green beans instead of asparagus and add color with carrots and sweet bell peppers.

Close-up photo of Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry.

How to Make Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this beef stir-fry recipe along with how to prep. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Beef: I used the tail of a beef tenderloin. You can also use flank steak, skirt steak, or sirloin. I don’t recommend round steak as it’s not a very tender cut, even when sliced across the grain.
  • Asparagus: The asparagus found late in the spring and summer is thicker than what you get earlier in the season, making it perfect for this recipe. Thicker asparagus will hold up better to stir-frying and will stay crisp.
  • Sesame Oil: Look for dark or “toasted” sesame oil which is available in the international foods aisle. It’s a seasoning rather than an oil to cook with. Regular sesame oil (light in color) is a cooking oil with a fairly high smoke point and is found in the cooking oils section.
  • Beef Broth / Stock: A lower sodium beef broth or stock is always ideal because the other ingredients are high in sodium.
  • Soy Sauce: I use Kikkoman lower-sodium soy sauce.
  • Oyster Sauce: Oyster sauce is a combination of caramelized oyster juices (a byproduct of cooking oysters in water for a long period of time), salt, sugar and sometimes soy sauce then thickened with cornstarch. It adds an amazing “umami” element to the stir-fry.
  • Sesame Oil: Here, too, use dark or “toasted” sesame oil available in the international foods aisle rather than light, which is cooking oil.
  • Rice Vinegar: Rice vinegar is very mild. It’s sometimes referred to as rice wine vinegar and is available seasoned and unseasoned. Seasoned rice vinegar has salt and sugar added. I always prefer to use unseasoned so I can adjust the salt/sodium and sugar levels myself.
  • Ginger: Whenever I purchase fresh ginger, I purchase more than what I will actually need.  I peel it, coarsely chop it, then place it in a mini food processor with some water to create a purée.  I use what I need for the dish I’m making, then freeze the remainder in small portions in either snack-size zip-top bags or mall plastic containers. Ginger sold in jars or tubes will work in a pinch.  However, it often contains ingredients besides ginger.
  • Chili Garlic Sauce: If you don’t have it, substitute Sriracha.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients for the beef stir-fry.
  • MAKE AHEAD:  Prep and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.  The marinade and stir-fry sauce can be combined and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
  • Toss the beef with soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, ginger and garlic then refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours if using flank, skirt or sirloin.
  • Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so before browning. Cold meat won’t brown as nicely.
Beef being tossed with tongs in glass bowl.
  • Combine the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce.
Sauce for Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry in glass bowl.
  • Heat the oil and stir-fry the asparagus for 1-2 minutes or until it turns bright green.
Asparagus being cooked in cast iron wok.
  • Add the scallion and give it a quick stir.
Asparagus and scallions in cast iron wok.
  • Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and push them to one side to make room for the beef.
  • Refresh the oil and brown the beef in batches being careful not to crowd the beef. If you crowd the beef, it steams rather than browns. Transfer the beef to the bowl, but don’t place it over the vegetables. The heat from the beef will cause the vegetables to continue cooking.
Beef being browned in cast iron wok.
  • When all the beef has been browned, pour the sauce into the wok and bring to a boil.
  • Cook until the sauce begins to thicken.
Sauce for Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry in cast iron wok.
  • Transfer the beef and the vegetables to the sauce and heat through.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds and serve!
Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry being stirred with wooden spoon.

Deliciousness done! Serve the Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry with rice and garnish with sesame seeds. This would also be great tossed with or served over noodles.

Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry with bowl of rice and small bowls of scallions and sesame seeds.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • Whenever we are in the mood for a good steak, I buy a whole tenderloin on sale and have the butcher trim. Whole beef tenderloin is a much better price per pound than buying individual steaks. From one whole tenderloin, we normally get three steak dinners for the two of us, the tail end for recipes like this and approximately two pounds of ground trimmings for the best burger ever!
  • Some of the essential ingredients to keep on hand so you can always pull off an Asian-inspired meal include:
    • Soy sauce or tamari
    • Toasted sesame oil
    • Rice vinegar
    • Oyster sauce
    • Sesame seeds
    • Fish sauce
    • Hoisin sauce
    • Black bean sauce
    • Mirin
    • Dry sherry, white wine or Shao-xing cooking wine
    • Chili garlic sauce
    • Sriracha
  • To make slicing the beef easier, place the cut in the freezer for about an hour. Then, thinly slice it against the grain as shown.  Slicing against the grain will yield a more tender result.
How to slice a flank steak agains the grain.

Tips for Making Stir-Fries:

  • When doing any stir-fry, all the ingredients should be prepped and ready to cook.
  • I do the vegetables first and remove them from the heat at the point of how we like them cooked (which is crisp-tender) then transfer them to a bowl.
  • After everything has been cooked to your preferred doneness, I bring the sauce to a boil for thickening, then add the protein and vegetables back in to be heated through.
Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry with black chopsticks.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What other proteins can I use other than beef?

This intensely flavored sauce pairs best with beef, but you could use pork. Because tofu is so neutral, you could also use tofu.

Can I make this stir-fry ahead of time?

Stir-fries are always best done fresh and served immediately because the cooking process is so quick. However, you can definitely get everything prepped and the marinade and stir-fry sauce mixed together. Refrigerate everything until needed.

What other vegetables can I use besides asparagus?

This recipe is very versatile. Try snow peas, broccoli or green beans instead of asparagus and add color with carrots and sweet bell peppers.

Close-up photo of Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry.

More easy Asian-inspired recipes you’ll love:

Get all my tasty beef recipes at Beef Recipes – From A Chef’s Kitchen

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Photo of Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry in cast iron wok on bright blue background.

Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry

4.75 from 24 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry is a quick and tasty dinner for two that can be pulled together quickly. Best of all, the ingredients are easily found in any grocery store!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 45 minutes
Course Beef
Cuisine Asian
Servings 2
Calories 875 kcal

Ingredients
  

Steak and Marinade

  • 3/4 pound beef tenderloin - or flank, skirt or sirloin steak, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce - tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry - or dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger

Sauce and Stir-Fry

  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce - or tamari or coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar - or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce - or crushed red pepper flakes or Sriracha
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil - or as needed
  • 1 bunch bunch asparagus - (approximately 1 pound) tough ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions - white and light green parts only, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds - for garnish

Instructions
 

Beef and Marinade

  • Combine beef strips, soy sauce, sherry or wine, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a bowl and toss to coat. Let stand 30 minutes.

Sauce and Stir-Fry

  • Combine broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes and cornstarch in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok, skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the scallion pieces and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to a bowl and push the vegetables to one side.
  • Add the remaining oil and brown the beef strips on both sides, working in batches. Transfer to the bowl with the vegetables but don’t place the beef over the vegetables to prevent them from overcooking.
  • Pour sauce mixture into the pan and bring to a boil. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Add beef and vegetables back to the pan to heat through. Serve immediately over rice or noodles.

Notes

To make slicing the beef easier, place the cut in the freezer for about an hour.  Then, thinly slice it against the grain as shown.  Slicing against the grain will yield a more tender result.
SUBSTITUTIONS:
  • Vary the vegetables.  Use broccoli, snow peas or green beans in place of the asparagus or use a combination.
  • If using flank, skirt or sirloin, it’s okay to leave in the marinade up to 4 hours.
MAKE AHEAD:  Prep and refrigerate up to 24 hours.  The marinade and stir-fry sauce can be combined and refrigerated up to 24 hours.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 875kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 65g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 30g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 3573mg | Potassium: 1263mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1822IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 157mg | Iron: 11mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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Recipe Rating




19 Comments

  1. 3 stars
    I used a pound of meat and I thought there was much too much sauce in the finished product. I will have to add another bunch of asparagus to eat the leftovers. Otherwise, I appreciated the attention to detail in the recipe.

    1. Thank you for your feedback. With Asian-inspired recipes, people tend to like to pair it with rice or noodles. This was photographed exactly as written.

  2. 5 stars
    Wow, this was really delicious. I used mushrooms, coarsely chopped, in addition to asparagus, and a small onion instead of scallions,. It was really good, my husband went back for seconds.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi, Sabrina, Thanks for your question. I would recommend using medium to thicker asparagus (not pencil-thin) and blanching the asparagus in salted water, then shocking it in ice water to set the color. Drain and dab off any excess water then add it to your cooled-down stirfry and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat in a 350-degree oven until heated through. You can also microwave it if you’re comfortable doing that. Thanks again and hope this works for you!

  3. 4 stars
    Overall Instructions and flavors are delicious. I would reduce the soy sauce to 1/4 cup in the sauce as I found it to be a little too salty.

    1. Hi, Tami, Thanks so very much and glad you enjoyed! Yes, Asian ingredients can be salty. Did you use a low-sodium soy sauce? That will help also but am happy you’re tweaking to your taste. Thanks again!

  4. Webpage description states refrigerate “up to” 4 hours and recipe instructions state marinate 30 minutes. Do you recommend the longer marinade? If so, can this be marinated overnight and cooked the following night?
    —Recipe Instructions~~STEAK AND MARINADE: Combine beef strips, soy sauce, sherry or wine, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a bowl and toss to coat. Let stand 30 minutes.
    —Webpage~~Toss the beef with soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so before browning.

    1. Hi, Mary, Thanks so much for your question and also, thank you for reading the instructions and write-up above the recipe. I have clarified the recipe. If using flank, skirt or sirloin, it’s okay to marinate for up to 4 hours. I would be cautious doing that with tenderloin; the other cuts can take it. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  5. I just made this and just had to tell you how DELICIOUS this was!

    I used ground ginger since I didn’t have fresh on hand and I used just a sprinkle of the pepper flakes for my toddler and let me tell you we both gobbled it up!

  6. 5 stars
    Carol – This looks amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Asian dish with asparagus before, but why not? Yum!