Try this Beef and Cashew Stir Fry recipe for an easy, tasty, budget-friendly weeknight dinner ready in minutes.
This beef and cashew nut stir fry recipe has everything you can want in a weeknight dinner. It's quick and easy to get on the table. It is packed with veggies and has both sweet and tangy flavours. We use beef mince, so it is cost-effective, but I also really enjoy the texture of frying the mince in the sesame oil with cornflour, it caramelizes and gives a great crust to the beef. The cashews add a creamy and crunchy feel and are the perfect vehicle for the sticky and sweet sauce. The pickled cucumbers and carrots cut through the sweetness with a tart and tangy flavour and add to our vegetable count for the day. Serve it all on jasmine rice (or long grain rice) with edamame beans, topped with spring onions (scallions) for a healthy and easy dinner with layers of texture and flavour.
What do you need to make this Beef and Cashew Stir Fry?
For the pickled vegetables
- Baby cucumbers (often called qukes) or Lebanese cucumbers.
- Rice wine vinegar
- Soy sauce
- Brown sugar
For the Beef and Cashew mixture
- Beef mince - I used beef mince which gives a crumbly texture that soaks up all the flavours of the sauce, but you can also use beef strips, beef pieces or thin slices of beef if you prefer. You will just want to cook it all for a lot shorter period of time - just one minute each side.
- Cornflour (cornstarch) to soak up the sauce and help it cling to the beef mince. It also gives a nice crust and texture to the mince.
- Green onions (scallions or spring onions), fresh ginger and garlic for aromatics.
- Garlic powder.
- Kecap manis - sweet soy sauce. I like to use ABC brand. If you are gluten-free you can also swap this for a mixture of tamari and brown sugar.
- Cashew nuts - these are of course optional, but they really add a delicious texture to the dish. You can swap out for peanuts, or omit if you are allergic to nuts.
- Jasmine rice or long-grain rice
- Edamame beans - I use frozen beans, and then run under warm water to defrost them. Mix them through the rice.
How to make Beef and Cashew Stir Fry?
We will start by first slicing up some cucumber and carrots finely and adding them to a bowl which contains rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and brown sugar. This will be our pickling liquid and will give the vegetables a tangy pickled flavour. We'll also use it later to add liquid to our mince sauce. Once you've mixed it together, set it aside to pickle.
Next, we'll prepare our aromatics, which involves peeling and mincing garlic, peeling and finely grating ginger, trimming green onions and slicing finely, and measuring out edamame beans. When slicing the green onions separate them into whites (including a bit of light green), and then darker greens. We'll use the lighter green and whites in the beef mince, and the darker greens as a topping. Slice the green onions as finely as you can on an angle to create a fine garnish. Also, when you peel ginger, it's very easy to peel it with a spoon, because the skin on ginger actually comes off really easily when you "scrape" it off. If you try to peel it off with a vegetable peeler you will be peeling into the hard flesh of the ginger and it will be difficult for it to come off.
Once you've prepared your vegetables, it's time to cook. Heat a wok or large frying pan on high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of sesame oil to the pan and then add the beef in handfuls, spreading out evenly over the hot pan. Do not stir it immediately, instead add the garlic powder, green onions, ginger, garlic, and cornflour to the pan. This will allow the beef to get a sear. If you stir it too quickly the beef will cool the pan and too much liquid will escape from the beef.
Break it up with your mixing spoon, stir-frying as you go in the hot wok or frying pan, for about 3-4 minutes, then add cashews and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) to the pan. Mix through until cashew nuts gain some colour.
The last step is to drain the pickles over the frying pan or wok, so that the pickle juice drains into the pan. Cook for a further minute and this will quickly thicken in the heat and make the stir fry saucy instead of dry.
Serve a large bowl of beef and cashew stir fry on rice and edamame with pickled veggies on the side and remaining spring onions.
How to make your stir-fry beef tender and not overcooked?
When cooking beef there are a few things you wan to do to make sure it is tender and not overcooked.
Firstly, if you have time, try to bring the beef to room temperature before you add it to the pan. This will mean it cooks more evenly.
Secondly, add beef in handfuls at a time in a single layer and this is the same if you are using beef mince, like this recipe calls for, or if you use beef strips. This allows the beef to sear, so you get colour and flavour to your beef.
Once you've seared on one side, flip it and sear on the other, and then either reduce the heat or remove the beef from the pan.
The enemy of tender beef is stewed beef. We've all had the experience when you add too much beef to a pan and start mixing it straight away. All of a sudden your beef is bathing in water that you didn't know was there, and is turning an off-putting grey colour. This happens when your beef cools the pan too quickly and releases water. You want to avoid this at all costs, which is why I always suggest adding meat a handful at a time.
When making this stir fry, try to balance getting some colour on the beef with not overcooking it. Allow it to cook undisturbed for a minute or two before turning it.
- For gluten-free diets, swap soy sauce for tamari. Swap sweet soy sauce for tamari and brown sugar.
Optional Add-ins in this Cashew and Beef Stir-fry
There are many ways you can personalise this stir fry, here are some of my suggestions.
- Add different vegetables like red capsicum, thin wedges of brown onion, choy sum leaves, fresh broccoli stems, green beans, snow peas, green capsicum or mushrooms to the stir fry.
- You can use different sauces in the beef stir fry, like hoisin sauce, dark soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce or vegetarian oyster sauce.
- Oil - instead of sesame oil you can use peanut oil or vegetable oil.
- Toppings - you can also top with coriander, sesame seeds, black pepper, or chilli flakes.
- For a lighter option serve on brown rice or cauliflower rice.
- For kids, serve them rice, beef, edamame and cucumber separately.
- Reserve cucumber and carrots from the pickling liquid so you can serve them plain.
- Remove cashews if your child is too small to eat nuts.
You will need a frying pan, a stovetop, a microwave.
More Stir Fry recipes
Easy Beef and Cashew Stir Fry Recipe with Pickled Veggies
- Frying pan
- 150 g baby cucumber
- 1 carrot
- ½ cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 1 cup frozen edamame beans
- ½ bunch green onion
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 500 g beef mince
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- ½ cup cashews raw
- ⅓ cup kecap manis
- 450 g microwave rice
- Thinly slice baby cucumbers. Peel and thinly slice carrot into half moons. In a bowl mix rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and brown sugar. Set aside your child's plain vegetables then add the rest to the liquid to pickle.150 g baby cucumber, 1 carrot, ½ cup rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoon light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Peel and mince garlic. Peel and finely grate ginger. Measure out edamame and pour hot water over it to defrost. Finely slice green onions, separating into whites and greens.3 clove garlic, 2 tablespoon fresh ginger, 1 cup frozen edamame beans, ½ bunch green onion
- Heat a large frying pan on high. Add oil, beef (broken up into handfuls), whites of the green onions, garlic, ginger, garlic powder and cornflour. Leave for a minute to caramelise, then cook, breaking up until browned (about 5 mins).3 clove garlic, 2 tablespoon fresh ginger, ½ bunch green onion, 2 tablespoon sesame oil, 500 g beef mince, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon cornflour
- Add cashew nuts and kecap manis, and continue to cook until everything is well coated. Drain pickled vegetables over the pan so the pickling liquid goes into the pan, and simmer until it thickens into a sauce. Meanwhile, microwave the rice.½ cup cashews, ⅓ cup kecap manis, 450 g microwave rice
- Serve your child rice, edamame, cucumber and carrot, and beef separately. Remove cashews for small kids. Serve adults rice with edamame topped with beef and cashew mixture, pickled veg and green onions.