Recipe: Beef and Celery Stir-Fry

Recipe: Beef and Celery Stir-Fry

Christine Gallary
May 22, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

Humble celery is always seen as the backbone of soups or a foundational vegetable for braises and the like, but it's a crisp, slightly sweet vegetable that deserves a turn in the spotlight all by itself. When thinly sliced and charred in a wok, celery stands up to the savoriness of beef in this easy, saucy stir-fry that just needs a pile of regular or cauliflower rice to nestle upon.

The most time-consuming part about making a stir-fry is the prep. But once that's done, cooking clocks in at just about 10 minutes. Cooking things in the hot pan in batches ensures a more seared, deeper flavor than sautéing alone, and since I like to eat my stir-fries over rice, there's plenty of sauce that goes into the pan at the end to coat everything.

And don't forget the pretty leaves at the top of the celery stalk! They have intense flavor that brighten up all the more cooked flavors in the stir-fry, so save them for garnishing on top.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

Beef and Celery Stir-Fry

Serves 4

  • For the beef and sauce:
  • 1 pound

    flank steak, trimmed of excess fat and sinew

  • 3 tablespoons

    Shaoxing wine or dry sherry

  • 3 tablespoons

    soy sauce or tamari

  • 1 tablespoon


  • 2 teaspoons

    vegetable oil

  • 2 teaspoons

    rice vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons

    packed dark brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    toasted sesame seed oil

  • For the stir-fry:
  • 3

    medium stalks celery (about 2 cups sliced)

  • 4 teaspoons

    vegetable oil, divided

  • 2

    medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on a slight diagonal

  • 1/2

    medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 teaspoons

    peeled, minced fresh ginger

  • 2

    cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 3 tablespoons


  • Steamed white rice or brown rice, for serving

For the beef and sauce:

Cut the flank steak crosswise (with the grain) into 2- to 3-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Place the beef in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk the remaining ingredients in a small bowl until the cornstarch and sugar are fully dissolved. Transfer 2 tablespoons of this sauce mixture to the bowl of beef and toss to coat the meat; set the remaining sauce aside.

For the stir-fry:

Remove the leaves from the celery and set aside. Thinly slice the celery crosswise at a slight diagonal; set aside.

Heat a large frying pan or flat-bottomed wok over medium-high heat until a drop of water vaporizes immediately on contact. Drizzle in 1 teaspoon of the oil, then add half of the beef and spread into an even layer. Cook undisturbed until the beef begins to sear, about 1 minute. Using a metal spatula, stir-fry for 30 seconds until the beef is lightly browned, but not cooked through. Transfer to a large plate and repeat with more oil and the remaining beef.

Drizzle 1 teaspoon of oil into the pan, add the carrot and onion, and season with salt. Stir-fry until crisp-tender and browned in spots, about 2 minutes; transfer to the plate with the beef.

Drizzle the remaining 1 teaspoon oil into the pan; add the sliced celery, ginger, and garlic; and season with salt. Stir-fry until the celery is crisp-tender, about 30 seconds.

Add the water, reserved beef, carrots, and onions, and any juices and stir to combine. Whisk the sauce again to recombine and dissolve the cornstarch, then add to the pan. Stir-fry until the beef is just cooked through and the sauce thickens and is glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with the reserved celery leaves, and serve with rice.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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