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Pepper Steak W/Sweet Mini Peppers

Pepper Steak with a drizzle of sriracha!!!

Pepper Steak with a drizzle of sriracha!!!

Pepper steak is a Chinese-American dish featuring strips of steak heavily seasoned with pepper.


It is believed to have its origins in the cuisine of Fujian Province in China, where it was originally made with pork. This dish can be served as an appetizer or entree with rice or noodles or on its own. Chinese-American restaurants often have a version of pepper steak on their menus and this dish can be made at home very easily. In addition to being consumed hot, it can be eaten cold.

For this version I am using sweet mini peppers.

For this version I am using sweet mini peppers.

This dish typically includes cuts of beef sauteed with bell peppers and seasoned with pepper, ginger, and soy sauce. Cornstarch may be added to thicken the sauce. Some cooks add onions for additional flavor and the dish can also include water chestnuts and other additions. Lots of pepper is added to make the dish strong and spicy and the dish can include a blend of different kinds of pepper. The spiciness can be increased by adding more peppers, if desired. 

Szechwan peppercorns

Szechwan peppercorns

People have been making various versions of this dish in the United States since at least the 1940s. The seasoning used in pepper steak tends to be stronger and heavier than the seasoning in traditional Chinese dishes. Chinese-American food in general often has more bold, aggressive flavors, reflecting American tastes in food. The sauce can also be very soupy, designed for absorption by noodles or rice served alongside the pepper steak.


Cooks interested in making pepper steak at home can use a variety of thin strips of steak often flank, sirloin, or round. If the steak is difficult to slice, putting it in the freezer for several hours to firm it up before slicing can be helpful.


The peppers and other inclusions should be uniformly sliced so the dish will cook evenly, and it is advisable to avoid overloading the dish with extra vegetables, to allow the flavor of the steak to dominate.


To prepare pepper steak, you should brown the meat in the wok/skillet before setting the meat aside, and cook the vegetables. As the vegetables soften, the meat can be added back to the pan, along with additional pepper and other spices can be added to taste. If the sauce is too thin, cornstarch can be added to thicken it as desired. Pepper steak should be served hot or refrigerated immediately.



For the marinade:

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger or grated with a micro-plane
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1/2 tsp. coarsely-ground black pepper


Pepper Steak Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb. thinly sliced flank steak or sirloin, cut diagonally across the grain into thin strips

12 mini sweet peppers, thinly sliced (or 2 regular-sized bell peppers a green and red into thinly slices)
1 small onion sliced into strips
2 Tbsp. olive oil


Slice steak into 1/4 inch strips against the grain


Add all marinade ingredients to a large bowl or ziplock bag, and stir to combine. Add the sliced steak, and toss in the marinade. Cover/seal and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.


Depending on size of wok or skillet you may have to cook the steak in batches.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sweet peppers and onions, and saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate.


Remove steak from the marinade with a slotted spoon (reserving the marinade) and saute about 2-3 minutes until browned, stirring occasionally.


Transfer steak to plate with the veggies.


Add the reserved marinade to the skillet and bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes to remove any food borne bacteria.(if you are uncomfortable with this step, then go ahead and skip it all together)


Add the steak, veggies and onion back to the wok or skillet, and stir to combine. Cook for an additional minute, then remove from heat.


Serve immediately over rice, noodles or quinoa. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds if desired, or more fresh cracked black pepper. 


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About Dish With Clarissa

Clarissa Ellis grew up learning to cook with her mom. In a time where traditional home-cooked food was going out of style, Clarissa learned to love and make those simple 'comfort foods' and family favorites. As she grew - and her mom got busier with long work hours, Clarissa supported her mom by taking over most of the cooking duties around the home. By the time Clarissa started high school - she had absorbed her mother's approach to traditional, homestyle Italian dishes; and thanks to So Cal's great weather year round... a love of cooking on the grill. Fast forward 30 years and Clarissa has never stopped cooking. She continued to explore food, learning more from So Cal's amazing cultural variety, trying things out on her family and her friends... and always learning. Never content to merely cook a good meal, Clarissa developed the habit of talking sharing her ideas with family, friends and coworkers. After a lifetime of learning and experimenting, Clarissa's love affair with traditional Italian cooking, and 'comfort foods' has grown into a robust, creative and cross-cultural approach to cooking that still manages to remain 'accessible' to the rest of us. Now Clarissa brings her experience and her approach online through her blog - giving all of us a chance give ourselves, our friends and our family the benefits of a lifetime of passion and joy in cooking simply great meals.

4 responses »

  1. Those who can’t do gluten can use tamari for the soy sauce and those who wish to avoid the corn starch that is GMO in the States can use kuzu. =) Love the intelligence here.



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