Chinese Onion Pepper Steak

I recently discovered a new favorite dish – Chinese Onion Pepper Steak. This flavorful and savory dish is a popular choice in Chinese cuisine, and for good reason. The combination of tender steak, sautéed onions, and crisp bell peppers make for a mouthwatering meal that is sure to satisfy any craving.

A sizzling wok cooks strips of tender beef with onions, peppers, and aromatic Chinese spices

One of the things I love most about Chinese Onion Pepper Steak is its versatility. It can be served over rice or noodles, making it a great option for a quick and easy weeknight dinner or a more elaborate meal for entertaining guests. Plus, the dish is packed with protein and vegetables, making it a healthier choice than some other takeout options.

Origins and Cultural Significance

A sizzling wok cooks Chinese onion pepper steak, surrounded by traditional Chinese spices and ingredients, evoking the rich cultural significance of the dish

Historical Background

As a popular dish in Chinese cuisine, Onion Pepper Steak has a long and rich history. The dish is believed to have originated in the northern region of China, where beef was a common ingredient in traditional dishes. The use of onions and peppers in the dish became popular during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when these vegetables were introduced to China from the Americas.

The dish gained widespread popularity in the United States during the 20th century, where it became a staple in Chinese-American restaurants. Today, it remains a popular dish in both China and the United States.

Regional Variations

While Onion Pepper Steak is a popular dish throughout China, there are regional variations that reflect the different culinary traditions of the country. In the northern region of China, the dish is often made with green peppers and onions, while in the southern region, red and green peppers are used. But in Sichuan province, the dish is often made with spicy peppers, reflecting the region’s love of spicy food.

There are also variations in the preparation of the dish. Some recipes call for the beef to be marinated in soy sauce and rice wine, while others call for the use of cornstarch to create a crispy coating on the beef.

Overall, Onion Pepper Steak is a beloved dish in Chinese cuisine, reflecting the rich culinary traditions of the country and the many regional variations that make it unique.

Ingredients and Substitutions

A wok sizzles with strips of beef, onions, and peppers. Soy sauce, garlic, and ginger sit nearby for the Chinese onion pepper steak

Primary Ingredients

To make Chinese Onion Pepper Steak, the primary ingredients you will need are:

  • Flank steak: This cut of beef is lean and flavorful, making it a great choice for this dish. You can also use sirloin or ribeye if you prefer.
  • Onions: Yellow onions work best in this recipe, but you can also use white or red onions if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Bell peppers: Green, red, or yellow bell peppers will all work well in this dish.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic adds a lot of flavor to this recipe, but you can also use garlic powder if you prefer.
  • Soy sauce: This is a key ingredient in many Chinese recipes, and it adds a salty, umami flavor to the dish.
  • Oyster sauce: This is a thick, savory sauce that adds depth of flavor to the dish.
  • Cornstarch: This is used to thicken the sauce and give it a glossy appearance.

Alternative Ingredients

If you don’t have all the primary ingredients on hand, or if you want to make some substitutions, here are some options:

  • Beef: You can use other cuts of beef, such as sirloin or ribeye, instead of flank steak.
  • Onions: If you don’t have yellow onions, you can use white or red onions instead.
  • Bell peppers: You can use any color of bell pepper that you have on hand, or you can substitute other vegetables, such as zucchini or mushrooms.
  • Garlic: If you don’t have fresh garlic, you can use garlic powder instead.
  • Soy sauce: If you don’t have soy sauce, you can use tamari or coconut aminos instead.
  • Oyster sauce: If you don’t have oyster sauce, you can use hoisin sauce or soy sauce instead.
  • Cornstarch: If you don’t have cornstarch, you can use arrowroot powder or potato starch instead.

Remember, these substitutions may change the flavor and texture of the dish, so use your best judgment when making substitutions.

Preparation Techniques

Sizzling onions and peppers stir-fried with tender slices of marinated steak in a savory Chinese sauce

Marinating the Steak

To ensure a flavorful and tender steak, marinating is an essential step. I recommend marinating the steak for at least 30 minutes before cooking. To make the marinade, mix together soy sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, and garlic. Then, place the steak in the marinade and let it sit in the refrigerator.

Stir-Frying Method

Stir-frying is a popular cooking method in Chinese cuisine that involves cooking ingredients quickly over high heat. To stir-fry the onion pepper steak, heat oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the marinated steak and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until browned. Then, add sliced onions and bell peppers and continue stir-frying for another 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are tender but still crisp. Finally, add a mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and water to the wok and stir-fry for an additional minute until the sauce thickens and coats the steak and vegetables evenly.

To achieve the perfect stir-fry, it’s important to have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go before starting to cook. This includes slicing the steak and vegetables thinly and uniformly, as well as measuring out the sauce ingredients. Additionally, it’s important to use a high heat and constantly stir the ingredients to prevent burning and ensure even cooking.

Serving and Pairing Suggestions

A sizzling hot plate of Chinese onion pepper steak with a side of steamed white rice and a garnish of fresh green onions

I recommend serving Chinese Onion Pepper Steak with steamed rice or noodles to soak up the delicious sauce. For a healthier option, you could also serve it with brown rice or quinoa.

To add some color and freshness to the dish, I suggest adding a side of stir-fried vegetables such as broccoli, snow peas, or bok choy. This will also add some extra nutrients to the meal.

If you’re looking for a beverage to pair with your Chinese Onion Pepper Steak, I recommend a light-bodied red wine such as Pinot Noir or a crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc. For non-alcoholic options, green tea or iced tea would be a great choice.

To finish off the meal, I recommend a light and refreshing dessert such as fresh fruit or sorbet. This will help cleanse the palate and leave you feeling satisfied without feeling too heavy.

Overall, Chinese Onion Pepper Steak is a versatile dish that can be paired with a variety of sides and beverages. Experiment with different combinations to find your perfect match.

Frequently Asked Questions

What ingredients are needed for a traditional Chinese onion pepper steak?

To make a traditional Chinese onion pepper steak, you will need beef steak, onions, bell peppers, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, and vegetable oil.

How can I make a Chinese onion pepper steak sauce?

To make the sauce for Chinese onion pepper steak, mix soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl. Add water and mix until smooth.

What are the steps to preparing an easy Chinese onion pepper steak?

To prepare an easy Chinese onion pepper steak, first, cut the beef into thin slices. Marinate the beef in soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, garlic, and ginger for 15 minutes. In a pan, heat vegetable oil and cook the beef until browned. Add onions and bell peppers and cook until softened. Pour in the sauce and cook until thickened.

Can Chinese onion pepper steak be made in a slow cooker, and if so, how?

Yes, Chinese onion pepper steak can be made in a slow cooker. To do so, add sliced beef, onions, bell peppers, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and cornstarch to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

Which cut of meat is most suitable for creating a tender pepper steak?

The most suitable cut of meat for creating a tender pepper steak is a flank steak or skirt steak. These cuts are lean and have a lot of flavor.

What are the nutritional considerations for Chinese pepper steak in terms of cholesterol content?

Beef is a high-cholesterol food, so it is important to consume it in moderation. To reduce the cholesterol content of Chinese pepper steak, use lean cuts of beef and limit the amount of oil used in cooking. Additionally, incorporating more vegetables into the dish can help balance out the nutrition.

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Chinese Onion Pepper Steak

  • Author: recipstep
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


This dish is a savory, stir-fried delight combining thinly sliced steak, bell peppers, and onions with a rich sauce made from soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. It’s a popular Chinese-American recipe that’s known for its balance of flavors and textures, making it a hearty and aromatic meal.


500 grams of beef steak (sirloin or flank steak works well)
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 bell peppers (one red and one green), thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of cooking oil
Sliced green onions for garnish


Begin by slicing the beef steak thinly against the grain, ensuring tender and flavorful bites.
In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, cornstarch, sugar, and sesame oil to create a marinade.
Place the sliced beef in a bowl and pour the marinade over it, ensuring each piece is well-coated. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat and add the cooking oil. Once hot, add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Add the marinated beef to the wok, spreading it out in a single layer to ensure even cooking. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the beef is browned and cooked through. Remove the beef from the wok and set aside.
In the same wok, add a bit more oil if needed, then add the sliced onions and bell peppers. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until they are tender-crisp.
Return the cooked beef to the wok and toss everything together, allowing the flavors to meld.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with sliced green onions before serving.


  • For a spicier version, add a teaspoon of chili flakes or a tablespoon of chili sauce.
  • You can substitute the oyster sauce with hoisin sauce if preferred.
  • Serve with steamed rice or noodles for a complete meal.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stir-frying
  • Cuisine: Chinese-American


  • Calories: 250 kcal
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Sodium: 500 mg
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Carbohydrates: 10 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 26 g

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