Stir-fried Beef with Tianjin Preserved Vegetables and Leeks

A quick post this as my quest continues to find new ways of using lesser known cuts of meat to prepare weekday family meals, Chinese style.
Bavette of beef was one of the cuts I discovered at the Butchery Demonstration given by James Whelan Butchers in Avoca Food Market, Monkstown. It comes from the flank or belly muscle of the cow and I first used it to make Hunan Style Crispy Beef. I was blown away by how well this relatively cheap cut responds to fast stir-frying with minimal marinading and I wondered if it was a fluke.
So in order to test the theory that almost any Chinese recipe requiring fillet or sirloin beef can be made with bavette, I decided to adapt a recipe from Ken Hom for stir-fried fillet beef with Sichuan preserved vegetables which features in Exploring China – A Culinary Adventure. I haven’t yet found Sichuan preserved vegetable in Dublin but I have used Tianjin preserved vegetable – dong cai – as a substitute. This salted mustard green is sold in squat earthenware jars and is readily available in Asian food markets and some speciality stores. It keeps for ages so a jar goes a long way. The 600g jar costs €1.75 in the Asia Market in Drury St., Dublin.

Watch out for this Tianjin preserved vegetable

I have used it before in the vegetarian version of fried green beans and I love its crunchy texture. It is very salty and it should be rinsed well and squeezed dry before use. I also had a leek left over from the weekend when I cooked Short Beef Ribs Chinese style. And so the dish below was born.
Stir-fried Beef with Tianjin Preserved Vegetables, Leeks and Noodles
Monday night Stir-fried Beef with Noodles

Serves 2 – 4


  • 500 g bavette of beef cut across the grain into thin slices about 6 cm long
  • 3 tsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tsp Shaoxing cooking wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tsp cornflour
  • About 5 tbs of Tianjin preserved vegetables
  • 3 tbs chicken stock or water
  • 3 tsp Chinkiang vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 2 – 3 nests of noodles (I used Blue Dragon wholewheat noodles)
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • A chunk of ginger – about 6 cm – peeled and finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, bashed, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 heaped tsp of Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 large leek, finely sliced
  • White pepper
  • 2 tsps sesame oil


  1. Place the beef slices in a bowl, add the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil and cornflour, mix with your hand and marinade for 20 minutes.
  2. Rinse the Tianjin preserved vegetable well under cold running water, squeeze dry and shred.
  3. Mix the chicken stock (or water), vinegar and sugar in a small bowl.
  4. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add the noodles and a pinch of salt, boil for 3 minutes and drain well in a colander.
  5. Heat a large wok over high heat, add a swirl of oil and when it is smoking add the beef and stir-fry for 2 minutes until lightly browned. Drain at once into a colander over a bowl and set to one side.
  6. Wipe out the wok and reheat over high heat adding a good swirl of oil.
  7. When hot stir-fry the ginger for a few seconds, then the garlic followed by the Sichuan peppercorns to release the aromas.
  8. Add the leeks and then the Tianjin preserved vegetable and stir-fry quickly until the leeks are crisping at the edges.
  9. Add the mix of stock, vinegar and sugar and quickly return the beef to the wok to re-heat and mix well.
  10. Season with white pepper and at the last minute add the drained noodles and stir well to mix and heat through (chopsticks are useful for this).
  11. Tip onto a platter and drizzle with a little sesame oil before serving immediately.

Noodle dishes aren’t necessarily the prettiest dishes but what this meal lacks in presentation it more than makes up for in flavour. Great value and taste, a real winter heart warmer and proof, if needed, that bavette is a versatile cut of beef. 500g of the bavette cost just under €8 and the noodles a €1 so, including store cupboard ingredients, a dinner for 4 for about €10.