Thai Beef Stir Fry

My husband always knows the right thing to say. His most recent compliment was that some of my best meals come about when I cook without a recipe (or very loosely follow one) and just improvise as I go. Last night's dinner happened to be one of those meals when I prepared this Thai Beef Stir Fry. I must say that although I did use a recipe very loosely as a guide, this was a dish that was better than what we have ordered at local Thai restaurants!...

I came across a recipe for Thai Chile Beef from Cook's Illustrated that looked really good. But the original recipe included some spicy ingredients that I knew may prove to be too spicy for our personal tastes. So in an effort to tame the heat a bit, I made some adjustments to the point that the recipe ended up completely different. The only portion of the original recipe that I maintained was for the marinade, but even that had one substitution and I used the marinade as the sauce for the dish as well. So if you enjoy Thai stir fries but prefer a mild heat, this is a recipe worth trying!

Thai Beef Stir Fry
inspired by Cook's Illustrated

Marinade & Sauce

2 tablespoons fish sauce
tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon Srichacha (hot Asian chili sauce, add more if desired)

1 3/4 lb flank steak, trimmed and cut into 1/4 in strips

Stir Fry
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, sliced thin
3 - 4 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
1/2 of each: red, yellow and green bell pepper, seeded and sliced in strips
1/2 cup bamboo shoots (canned, jarred or fresh)
4-5 Thai basil leaves, sliced thin (fresh Italian basil can be used)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup roughly chopped peanuts for garnish

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
Lime wedges for serving

Mix fish sauce, rice vinegar, water, brown sugar, and srichacha in a small bowl and add the beef. Toss and set aside. Allow the beef to marinate for at least 20 minutes to absorb the flavors.

Heat 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet or wok over high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until softened.

Remove the beef from the marinade and add to the hot skillet. Reserve the marinade since it will be added to the skillet later. After the beef is cooked, reduce the heat to medium, and add 2 more teaspoons of oil to the skillet.

Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring frequently until they begin to soften, about 3 - 4 minutes. Add the bamboo shoots and cook until softened, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the reserved marinade with the lime juice to the skillet and increase the heat to medium high until the sauce is thickened. Take off the heat and stir in the Thai basil leaves.

Serve over steamed rice with chopped peanuts on top and chopped cilantro, as well as lime wedges on the side.

* To make ahead/freezer meal -
Mix fish sauce, rice vinegar, water, brown sugar, and srichacha in a quart sized freezer bag and add the raw beef. Seal and freeze or chill in refrigerator. Prep stir fry vegetables and place in storage container in refrigerator. When ready to prepare, defrost completely/allow meat to come to room temperature to allow the beef to marinate and absorb the flavors. Continue to follow the directions above and finish cooking.


  1. Thanks for the freezing tip :D Anything I could make ahead of time is a winner in my book.

  2. This is something for me ! This is something for me!
    This is...

    ok, I stop.

    I definitely have to cook a huge Thai dinner before going to Poland for holiday.


  3. The tip is helpful! I always have problems when it comes to cooking like this.

  4. One of the best meals I have ever made! Huge hit with my husband. Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Your food always looks so good! I am going to try this out soon.

  6. hi jolene,
    as a former chicagoan, now living in south dakota, please help me with a few recipes. if you have a sweet and sour chicken recipe that is similar to the restaurant "garlic and chili" on lasalle and division that will help. i like "great seas" chicken wings from up north. also, there are very slim to no deli shops who can make a good sandwich. i so miss cornbeef sandwiches and best kosher hot dogs. if you can make a all around sandwich worthy of the chicago stamp i will be glad. one caveat though, i dont eat pork. and a pizza with a touch of cornmeal in the crust. please, please, please do this for me. tgank you with this endeavor.

  7. Hi Jr Nuredeen! I love Great Sea's chicken wings and for a clone, definitely check out this link:

  8. Do you cook the beef before freezing it in the marinade?

  9. This recipe is very flavorful! I really like how you mixed all the ingredients. I will give this a try when I have time to cook. Thank you for sharing!

    Beef Stir Fry

  10. I've never used Rice Vinegar so when I went to buy it I saw there are two kinds, the one with salt and sugar and the one without. Both say Rice Vinegar but I looked it up and I think the one with salt and sugar is also called Sushi Vinegar. I wondered which type you use in your recipes or does it matter that much? They were on sale so I bought both just in case :-)

  11. @Beyond Sunday Morning - I use both but tend to keep this one on hand more often so I can add salt/sugar as needed in recipes: