Beef and Walnuts

  • Active Time 20m
  • Total Time 40m

Serves 4

The Song dynasty, especially the era of the southern Song (AD 1126-1279), is known as China's Golden Age. With increased wealth from overseas trade, suddenly during this time there was a new, middle-class elite who began to be interested and indulge in good food in a way seen before only amongst the wealthy.
This new middle class in the South created and developed their own culinary style distinct from the imperial legacy and adopted a more hybrid style utilizing the natural resources around them. The result was a simpler, better-balanced style of cooking that has continued to this day. Beef was still not greatly used, but specific cuts were used in simple dishes like the one below.
From his travels in China, Marco Polo records nuts of every description: pine nuts, almonds, chestnuts, fox nuts and walnuts (which were introduced from Persia [Iran] in the early medieval centuries).
Beef and walnuts is a dish that reflects the flowering of a cuisine that still holds a strong place in the culinary repertoire of the southerners.


  • 8 ounces beef sirloin (fillet steaks), cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • For the Beef Seasoning:
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine (available at Chinese stores) or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water

  • 4 ounces walnuts
  • 2 cups peanut oil, for deep-frying
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 4 thin slices fresh ginger
  • 2 stalks scallions, cut into 1 1/4-inch lengths
  • For the Seasonings:
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Dash of white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Family Chicken Broth

Companion recipe: Family Chicken Broth


Combine the beef and beef seasoning ingredients. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Cook the walnuts in boiling water for about 6 minutes; drain. Spread the walnuts out to dry.

Pour the peanut oil into a preheated wok and heat until it is just smoking. Turn the heat to low, add the walnuts, and stir slowly. Continue frying the walnuts over low heat until golden brown and crisp. Remove, drain and place on paper towels. Leave the oil in the wok.

Cut grooves along the carrot's length at about 1/2-inch intervals. Cut the carrot crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

Heat the oil in the wok until moderately hot. Deep-fry the beef for 1 minute. Remove with a slopped spoon and set aside. Pour off the oil, leaving 1 tablespoon of oil behind. Sauté the carrot flowers, ginger and the scallions. Add the walnuts and toss all together for 1 minute. Return the beef to the wok to "marry" with the other ingredients. Stir in the seasonings over high heat.

Serve with steamed rice.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Russell. All rights reserved.

RecID 2593

nutrition information per serving

421 calories; 36g total fat; 38mg cholesterol; 341mg sodium; 10g carbohydrates; 3g fiber; 18g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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