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.
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.
Recipe Ingredients for the Beef and Marinade:
- Beef: I used the tail of a beef tenderloin. Other cuts you can use are 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 which makes 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.
Recipe Ingredients for the Stir-Fry Sauce:
- Beef Broth / Stock: Because the other ingredients are high in sodium, a lower sodium beef broth or stock is always ideal.
- 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 a 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. To learn more about rice vinegars and how it differs from rice wine, here’s a great article from The Kitchn: What’s the Difference Between Rice Wine and Rice Vinegar.
- 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, substitute Sriracha.
- Gather and prep all the ingredients for the beef stir-fry.
- Toss the beef with soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and 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.
- Combine the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce.
- Heat the oil and stir-fry the asparagus for 1-2 minutes or until it turns bright green.
- Add the scallion and give it a quick stir.
- 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 to not 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.
- 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.
- Transfer the beef and the vegetables to the sauce and heat through.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and serve!
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.
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 basic 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
- Dry sherry, white wine or Shao-xing cooking wine
- Chili garlic sauce
- 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.
Tips for making stir-fries:
- When doing any type of 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.
Frequently Asked Questions:
This intensely flavored sauce pairs best with beef, but you could use pork. Because tofu is so neutral, you could also use tofu.
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.
This recipe is very versatile. Try snow peas, broccoli or green beans instead of asparagus and add color with carrots and sweet bell peppers.
More easy Asian-inspired recipes you’ll love:
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Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry
Steak and Marinade
- ¾ 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
- ⅓ 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 ½ 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
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.
- 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.
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.