Crispy chilli beef

Chinese food, but not as you know it. This crispy beef is a bit tricky, but well worth the effort.

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For the crispy chilli beef

For the beef marinade

For the pickled carrot

For the five-spice salt

For the sauce

For the batter


  1. Put the beef in the freezer for around 1½ hours until it is about 70% frozen.

  2. For the marinade, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl with 50ml/2fl oz water.

  3. Using a sharp knife, cut the partially frozen beef into 7cmx5mm/2¾x⅛in batons. Add the beef batons to the marinade, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.

  4. For the pickled carrot, place the carrot in a sterilized airtight container. Heat up all the remaining ingredients in a non-reactive pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Pour over the carrot strips and leave to cool. Seal the container. (It will keep for several months if stored in a cool, dry place.)

  5. For the Chinese five-spice salt, mix the powder and salt and combine thoroughly.

  6. For the sauce, combine all the ingredients and 400ml/14fl oz water in a pan and cook until the mixture has reduced to the consistency of honey.

  7. For the batter, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, then whisk in enough sparkling water until you have a light batter

  8. When the beef is ready, heat the vegetable oil in a deep-fat fryer to 180C. Alternatively, heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based frying pan until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped into it. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.).

  9. Remove the beef from the marinade, coat the beef in cornflour and plunge the batons individually into the batter before deep-frying until crispy (the fried batter coating should have miniature holes throughout instead of being a solid shell). Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

  10. Add the beef to the sauce, season with a pinch of chilli flakes, Chinese five-spice salt and sesame seeds. Top with some pickled carrots, garnish with viola flowers, if using, and serve immediately.

Recipe Tips

This recipe makes more pickled carrot than you will need, but it keeps well and can be used in other recipes or as a topping for salads and sandwiches.