This delicious Asian-inspired stir fry recipe is filled with crunchy vegetables, tender beef and a flavorful sauce. It is much healthier than the Chinese food takeout Moo Shu beef and also has a low carb option in the recipe.
Why this recipe is just so good....
- This homemade version of Moo Shu Beef is a one pot recipe. It is a quick weeknight meal with dinner ready in about 30 minutes. It helps to take a shortcut and use packaged coleslaw; save yourself some chopping.
- It is also a healthier option for dinner. You can use a variation of sides using low carb tortillas or cauliflower rice. The sauce is so delicious, I usually double the ingredients. Truthfully, the sauce is the star of the show, so I could eat the beef and vegetables by themselves.
- If you love quick stir fry meals, try my Hot and Spicy Beef or Pepper Steak.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
You will need these ingredients to make Mu shu Beef:
- This recipe uses flank beef steak but you can use boneless top sirloin or skirt steak.
- We are using a pre-made, bagged coleslaw mix that has both red and white cabbage. If you prefer, buy a small head of either cabbage and slice thinly. It will shrink down as it cooks.
- There is a bit of heat from the chili bean paste but it is not overly spicy. You can also use chili garlic sauce. If you prefer no heat at all, just use more hoisin sauce. If you are keeping carbs low, read the labels, the amount of sugar used varies by brand.
- Feel free to use whatever mushrooms you prefer. We like the baby bellas but there are many varieties such as Shiitake or Oyster mushrooms that would be delicious as well.
How to make Moo Shu Beef
- . Slice beef, across the grain, into thin strips, about 2 inches long.
- Combine the marinade ingredients and place half in a large bowl or zipper plastic bag with the sliced beef. Save the other half for cooking the beef.
- Chop scallions. Wipe off mushrooms with damp cloth and thinly slice. If not using bagged coleslaw mix, thinly slice cabbage.
- Heat ½ tablespoon oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Fry drained beef until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove the beef to bowl.
- Heat remaining oil and fry the cabbage, scallions and mushrooms until softened but still has a bit of crisp to the cabbage. If you prefer your vegetables fully softened, cook a few minutes longer. Add the beef back to pan and the reserved marinade. Bring to boil and stir to combine with beef and vegetables.
- You can also add some beef, chicken or vegetable stock to make more sauce.
- Serve over white or brown rice, cauliflower rice, tortillas or traditional pancakes. Garnish with fresh chopped green onions. Or garnish with sesame seeds and bamboo shoots.
According to This one vs that, Hunan beef is a much hotter dish due to the addition of chili peppers and garlic in the recipe. It is usually marinated for a few hours or even overnight.
Moo Shu beef is a variation of the traditional dish Moo Shu pork. The stir fry is only briefly marinated. The main ingredient is cabbage. Moo shu sauce is traditionally made with ginger, garlic, scallions, soy sauce and rice cooking wine.
Moo shu is named after a blossom from the Osmanthus tree, which is yellow.
According to Wikipedia, Moo Shu beef or pork are traditionally eaten with Mandarin pancakes, called Mu shi. But the American version may use tortilla or burito wraps. You can also serve the dish with rice.
Our recipe offers both of those choices and we prefer a lower carb version using low carb tortillas and cauliflower rice. You could also serve the Moo Shu Beef in lettuce cups for another low carb option.
There are three key factors to tenderize the beef:
-Slice across the grain. When you look down at the meat, you will see lines of fiber going across it, turn the cutting board and then slice the meat so you are cutting against the grain.
-Use a marinade with vinegar and/or citrus juice. The right balance of acid in the marinade will not only flavor but also help break down the fibers in the meat and increase the tenderness.
-Don't overcook the beef. Since you are slicing it thinly, it should cook quickly in your pan. It doesn't need to get very browned.
Moo Shu Beef has a savory "umami" flavor in that it is richly seasoned, slightly salty from the soy sauce and hoisin sauce. It is not as sweet as teriyaki beef, but also tangy from the rice vinegar. Moo Shu also has some heat in the sauce from chili oil and ginger.
- If you like to prepare ahead or meal prep, the beef can be sliced the day before and just cover and refrigerate. The veggies can be sliced ahead too, just store them separate from the beef.
- If you are using a smaller pan, fry the beef in two batches. If you overcrowd the beef, it will steam instead of fry.
- If you are able to invest in a wok, I highly recommend using one. They heat evenly and are large enough so all the food stays in the pan while stir frying. (less cleanup!) Mine is 14" and was under $50.00 from Amazon.
- Make sure to use a neutral oil with a high smoke point such as canola, peanut, vegetable or grapeseed. They don't have a strong flavor and won't overwhelm the flavors in the recipe.
Here are some more quick stir fry recipes you will love!
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This delicious Chinese-inspired Moo Shu Beef is a delicious stir fry recipe. It is filled with crunchy vegetables, tender beef and a flavorful sauce. It is much healthier than the takeout version and also has a low carb option in the recipe.
Moo Shu Sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoisen sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish or oyster sauce
- 3 teaspoons garlic paste or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste or ground ginger
- ¼ cup granulated sugar or substitute *
- 1 tablespoon bean paste with chili oil *
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- ⅓ cup soy sauce, light or low sodium
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil such as canola, divided in half
- 1 package (14 ounces) coleslaw mix.
- 1 pound mushrooms ( I used baby bellas) *
- 6 green onions, chopped (save one for garnish)
- 1 pound lean flank or sirloin steak, sliced into strips *
- 2-3 teaspoons cornstarch or Arrowroot powder,* optional for thickening sauce
- Optional additions: water chestnuts, bamboo shoots or sesame seeds
Combine marinade ingredients/sauce
- Mix sugar, bean paste, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, vinegar, fish and hoisin sauce. Divide in half. Save half for cooking the beef.
2. Slice beef, across the grain, into thin strips, about 2 inches long.
3. Place in plastic bag or container and pour half of marinade over. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drain beef before frying.
4. Chop scallions. Wipe off mushrooms with damp cloth and thinly slice. If not using bagged coleslaw mix, thinly slice cabbage.
5. Heat ½ tablespoon oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Fry drained beef until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove the beef to bowl.
6. Heat remaining oil and fry the cabbage, scallions and mushrooms until softened but still has a bit of crisp to the cabbage. If you prefer your vegetables fully softened, cook a few minutes longer. Add the beef back to pan and the reserved sauce. Bring to boil and stir to combine with beef and vegetables.
7. You can also add some beef, chicken or vegetable stock to make more sauce.
8. Serve over white or brown rice, cauliflower rice, tortillas or traditional pancakes. Garnish with fresh chopped green onions. Or garnish with sesame seeds and bamboo shoots.
*To substitute the chili bean paste, use ¼ - ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Taste before adding more to see if you want more heat in the sauce. Or use chili garlic sauce.
*You can use white mushrooms, crimini, shiitake or oyster.
*The meat is easier to slice if it is slightly frozen.
*For the lower carb version: Use sugar substitute in the recipe. Nutrition calculated with Monkfruit sweetener. I did not thicken my sauce with the cornstarch or Arrowroot, but if you want, save 3 tablespoons of the marinade, mix with thickener of choice, pressing out any lumps. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the fry pan when you are adding the reserved marinade. Stir to combine and it will thicken as it heats.
* I used the Mission brand taco size tortillas. They have 4 net carbs per tortilla.
*Store covered leftovers in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in refrigerator and reheat on stovetop on low-medium heat or in the microwave.
Keywords: Stir fry, healthy meal, low carb dinner, healthy take-out