The RV Chronicles — Chinese Beef & Snow Peas

When it comes to eating for the first time in a restaurant, I’m unflinching in my ordering routine.

In Tex-Mex joints, the tamales and enchiladas get my first nod.  In a home style or Southern place, I order chicken fried steak. I christen Italian restaurants with a plate of eggplant parmigiana. As a rookie at any Chinese dive, I go for the hot & sour soup and either General Tso’s Chicken, or lately — beef & snow peas (often both).

My philosophy is simple: If an ethnic/regional restaurant can’t get these simple (trite) dishes right, there’s no reason to ever again offer my patronage.

Now, if I might take a shot across the bows of thousands of cooks and ‘chefs’ out there who have supposedly come up with a way to make ‘better than take-out’ beef and snow peas on the stove top?  Ignore them.

Why is my version better than take-out? In this recipe, you’ll use ingredients that you’ve selected — nothing that has a Material Data Safety Sheet on file with OSHA.  And, just as importantly, you’ll use a technique used in Chinese eateries around the Western Hemisphere.

That technique is called velveting.  I learned it from Chef Martin Yan in a cooking class at Macy’s some years ago.

Velveting is simply tossing seasoned meat in egg white and cornstarch, then par-frying. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, until you realize that there are thousands of folks who employ the method every day — and make us think we’re eating a prime cut of meat.

Try it. Just once. You’ll agree that it takes a hell of a lot more than slicing a half-frozen piece of meat against the grain to be ‘better than take-out.’

If I can produce this over a camp stove outside an RV, I’m sure your kitchen version will be much better … And better than the stuff at the local Chinese dive.

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Chinese Beef & Snow Peas

Chinese Beef & Snow Peas — This one really is better than takeout.

Chinese Beef & Snow Peas — This one really is better than takeout.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chinese Beef & Snow Peas
Chinese Beef & Snow Peas — These rival any restaurant version out there.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
  • 1½ lbs - Sirloin tip or Chuck steak, sliced thinly against the grain
  • 4 TB - Soy sauce, divided
  • 2 TB - Dry Sherry
  • 1 - Egg white, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup - Cornstarch
  • ¼ cup - Beef stock
  • 1 TB - Brown sugar
  • 1 tsp - Chile paste (Sambal oelek)* (more for additional heat)
  • ½ inch nub - Ginger, minced
  • 8 oz - Snow peas, trimmed
  • 1 cup - Fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 - Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 TB - Vegetable oil
  • Toasted sesame oil for finishing
  1. In a large bowl, add 2 TB soy sauce and sherry to meat and combine well.
  2. Mix egg white and cornstarch; add to beef mixture and toss to coat well.
  3. Set aside for about 10 minutes (or in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes)
  4. Preheat to high about a half-inch of vegetable oil in a wok or deep frying pan. -or- Preheat your deep fryer to a high setting.
  5. While the oil is preheating, mix beef stock, 2 TB soy sauce and brown sugar; set aside.
  6. When oil is heated, fry beef strips for about 1 minute; remove and place on paper plate.
  7. Discard all but about 2 TB of the oil (or use a separate pan to make the stir fry); set heat to medium-high.
  8. To the hot oil, add garlic and chile paste; cook until fragrant – about 30 seconds.
  9. Add mushrooms and snow peas and stir fry until peas are brightly colored and crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
  10. Add beef stock mixture to the pan; then add the beef, tossing to coat.
  11. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring regularly. (The cornstarch on the beef will thicken the sauce.)
  12. Remove from heat and drizzle with 1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil.
  13. Serve with rice.



  1. Love it man! I can’t wait to try velveting. I make a lot of stir fry myself and have my own little secrets for taste (some of which I see you also know) but I’ve never tried velveting. Can’t wait to put this trick to use. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nice – never heard of velveting. Beef looks fantastic!

    • adamjholland says:

      Thanks, Shea. It’s one of those tricks that you need in your arsenal. Nothing — except the slew of pumpkin recipes this time of year — irritates me more than someone pitching their against-the-grain sliced stuff as ‘better than takeout.’ Give it a shot, Shea. And, I heard you did well at the cooking contest in Florida this past week. (Yes, I know a judge or two.) Hopefully you’ll be sharing your success with your readers.

  3. I like your theory of ordering in ethnic restaurants. I think I’ll adopt it. Macy’s had a cooking class? And lastly I just read about velveting a couple of months ago and have wanted to try it. It was a chicken recipe, but I believe I’ll try your beef first. Thanks Adam.

    • adamjholland says:

      Lea Ann – That class was at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ way back when — in Macys ‘basement.’ ~ Velveting works wonders with beef and chicken and I’ve talked about both right here in these pages (General Tso’s Chicken, Beef & Broccoli, and Orange Chicken (a really good recipe, by the way). In fact, velveting tends to have a better effect on chicken than it does beef, because chicken is harder to tenderize.

  4. Velveting? Well, whatever it is – it sure looks delicious! But then, you always make delicious dishes!

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