Toothpick Beef (牙签牛肉)

It is like a mini bbq skewer – fun to make and fun to eat. This is a spicy, garlicky finger food. The beef is perfectly cooked. Very moist and tender.

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5 from 1 vote

SZECHUAN APPETIZER - Toothpick Beef (牙签牛肉)


Main Ingredients

Ingredients for the spice mix


  • 2 cup of oil to fry
  • 1/3 cup of red dry chilies
  • 1.5 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorn
  • 3 tbsp of garlic
  • toasted sesame seeds to add at the end
  • scallion for garnish


  • In a cast iron skillet, toast 1/2 tsp of black peppercorn, 1/2 tsp of white peppercorn, 1 tsp of Sichuan peppercorn, 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds, 1 piece of star anise, 1 small piece of cinnamon. Put the spices in a blender and blend them into a fine powder. We will use 2 tsp of this spice mix in this recipe. Save the rest. You can sprinkle it on bbq or use it as an all-purpose meat seasoning.
  • Slice 500 grams of beef into 1/5 of an inch thick piece. Marinade it with 3/4 tsp of salt, 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tsp of Chinese rice wine, 3/8 tsp of baking soda, and 2 tsp of the spice mix that we made. Mix this until well combined. You really need to get into each piece of beef because the spice mix will take a while to be well-cooperated.
  • Cover it and let it sit in the fridge for 1 hour. At the same time, soak some toothpick in water for 30 minutes. We gonna fry the meat in oil. This is to help the toothpick not to get burned.
  • Besides that, I also prepared a handful of red dry chilies. Use scissors to cut it open to release the flavor. The seeds will come out. You can discard it. I decide to keep the seeds because I want this dish to be spicy. You will also need 1.5 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorn.
  • Take the beef out of the fridge. Stick each piece on to a toothpick.
  • Pour 2 cups of oil to the wok. Heat it to 380 If you don’t have a thermometer, you add test it with one piece. If you see it is bubbling a lot that means the temperature is good. Add in the toothpick beef. Only half of it - 2 reasons. Number one is that it overflows easily. Second is that it will take much longer to cook all the beef in once and the longer the beef stays in the oil, the chewier it will be. So please follow my instruction. When the beef just starts getting a slight brown on the edge, that is when you can take them out. The total frying time should be less than 2 minutes. If you fry it too long, it will give you a dry, chewy, tough result. Do the same thing to the other half of the beef. Fry for less than 2 minutes. Take them out.
  • Pour most of the oil out of the wok. You can reuse it to make egg rolls, Mongolian beef, orange chicken. Don’t waste it. I left about 2.5 tbsp of oil in the wok. We will use that to saute the chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. Keep the heat at low. Stir them for about 2 minutes. Keep an eye on the peppercorn. Do not burn them or else it will bring a bitter flavor. Add 3 tbsp of finely diced garlic. The reason we add it at this point is that we don’t want to burn the garlic. I like to add 1 tsp of sugar to balance all the tanginess. Introduce the beef back to the wok. Toss it quickly until all the spices and garlic are well distributed. Take them out.
  • Sprinkle some toasted sesame seed. Some spring onion for garnish. And you are done.



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