I have a minor obsession with this basil beef; it is an absolutely perfect weeknight meal. Not only will it make you eschew takeout menus for years to come, but you’ll also be able to make it in 15 minutes flat with only 10 ingredients. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is.
For me, this dish has that incredibly comforting, all-is-right-with-the-world quality that can make me feel better after a long day. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I only need to be in the kitchen for a few minutes before I’m parking myself on the couch with a big bowl of rice and saucy beef, basil, and vegetables.
The night before, I will usually put the beef in the fridge to defrost while I’m out at work the next day. Then, when I come home, all I need to do is take a few minutes to slice up the beef and a few veggies, and then another few minutes to cook it. I’ll heat up some of the rice I made earlier in the week, and voilà! Dinner. Demolished.
Almost all the ingredients in this recipe can be found at any grocery store (or already in your pantry). The only one you might have trouble finding is fish sauce, which is often used in Southeast Asian cooking. The ingredient is optional, but I think it adds amazing flavor and authenticity to the dish. For the star herb, you can use whatever basil you can get your hands on — Thai basil and Italian basil will both work.
Quick and Easy Basil Beef
1 pound flank steak or sirloin steak, sliced thinly against the grain
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 teaspoons cornstarch
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup fresh Thai or Italian basil leaves, packed
Steamed rice, for serving
Toss the sliced beef with 2 teaspoons oil and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Heat your wok over high heat, and add 2 tablespoons of oil. Sear the beef until just browned (but still a little rare), remove from the wok, and set aside.
Add the garlic, red bell pepper, and onions to the wok and stir-fry until tender. Toss the beef back in, along with the soy sauce, fish sauce (if using), and sugar. Stir-fry for another few seconds, and then fold in the basil until it’s just wilted. Serve with steamed rice.