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Delicious Vegan Beef and Broccoli is savory, satisfying, and family friendly. Skip the takeout and make this delectable yet healthy dish in less than 30 minutes.
Hey Internet, want some Chinese Takeout? I always do. Today I’m sharing with you my Chinese-Takeout Inspired Vegan Beef and Broccoli recipe!
This dish tastes legit like one of my most-ordered takeout meals before going vegan. Since then, I haven’t really been able to find really good vegan Chinese Takeout (except maybe at Grasshopper Restaurant in Allston, MA, but I unfortunately live nowhere near it).
If you’ve ever had Chinese takeout Beef and Broccoli, you know what flavor I’m referring to. It’s salty, savory, garlicky–it’s hard to describe, but it’s delicious.
It’s also super easy to make, and more healthy than its more traditional counterpart. I used tofu in this recipe to keep it gluten-free, but any meat substitute can be used, such as my easy seitan or store-bought meat alternatives.
A quick note: the timing of this recipe is not a mistake. There’s a cool tradition in Judaism to go out to eat at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas day.
Since I never actually want to go anywhere (I’m a hermit in winter), I made my Chinese at home, and ate it along with some vegan veggie lo mein and vegan chicken teriyaki with brussels sprouts. It was fun having a variety of dishes to eat from (and save leftovers for the next day) just like when ordering takeout, except this didn’t leave me with excessive thirst and a stomach ache the next day.
ENOUGH, GIVE ME THE RECIPE! Haha, just a joke, but let’s talk about what you’ll need!
What You'll Need
So unless you’re using seitan or another meat alternative, you’ll need some tofu.
Extra firm tofu (sometimes labeled ‘super’ firm tofu) is the firmest and driest.
If you use firm tofu, try pressing it to get excess water out so that it can become chewy in the oven or air fryer as well as absorb the delicious saucy flavors in this dish. I love this E-Z Tofu Press for pressing my tofu, but you can also rig something between 2 cutting boards or plates and a heavy book or weight.
For broccoli, there’s not much I can explain. I chop up the whole thing of broccoli, including the stems and the leaves. The leaves are really good for you, and so are the stems, which I find to be incredibly delicious. If you find them bitter, try peeling them first.
I normally prefer to use coconut aminos over soy sauce because it’s lower in sodium, but it has a sweeter and lighter flavor that’s not super appropriate for the flavor profile of the ‘Beef’ and Broccoli sauce. If you prefer it though, by all means.
So for this recipe, I recommend either reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari, which is gluten-free soy sauce. I used reduced sodium tamari.
If you use regular sodium soy sauce, I would either dilute it with a little water or just use less, as it could get pretty salty pretty quickly!
There’s another sauce to talk about: Mirin. Mirin is a subtly sweet, non-alcoholic rice wine that’s also somewhat tangy. It adds a little something-something to this recipe and I highly recommend it.
Look for Mirin at local Asian grocery stores, in the international section of your grocery store, or online. You can also use Chinese cooking wine or a little rice vinegar and sugar (1 tsp rice vinegar + 1/2 tsp sugar + 1 1/2 tsp water = 1 tbsp mirin).
One more essential ingredient here is Chinese 5-spice. This five spice blend is made up of spices believed to restore and keep balance in the body.
Although regions may vary, the most common blend is of Star Anise, Cinnamon, Fennel Seed, Sichuan peppercorns, and Cloves. You can buy Chinese 5-spice from an Asian grocery store, the spice section of your grocery store, or online. You can also blend it yourself.
To thicken the sauce, you’ll need either arrowroot powder or cornstarch (I recommend using an organic non-GMO cornstarch). You may also be able to use tapioca starch, but I haven’t tested the recipe with this substitution.
Finally, to round out the flavors, I’ve added garlic, ginger, chili powder (can add any spicy element, or omit), and (surprise, surprise) nutritional yeast. The amount of nutritional yeast in this recipe is just enough to add to the salty and umami flavor (without adding a lot more sodium), but not enough to make it taste cheesy
How to Make Vegan Beef and Broccoli
To get crispy, chewy, meaty tofu, I either first air fry it or bake it. I tossed the tofu cubes in 1 tablespoon of the tamari + 1 tablespoon of water (mixed) before cooking them.
I prefer to use an air fryer to cut the cooking time in half. If using this method, I would air fry the tofu at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius) for 20 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through.
If oven baking, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius) and bake your tofu for about 35-40 minutes, flipping halfway through.
I highly recommend using silicone baking mats on your pans as opposed to parchment paper because they really aid the tofu in becoming crispy and chewy, and they are reusable thus helping the earth and saving you money.
While the tofu is cooking, you can make your rice. I like this dish best served over fluffy white rice, but you could use brown rice, quinoa, or anything else you like.
I would recommend waiting until the tofu is about 10 minutes from done before starting the sauce and the broccoli.
Start your sauce by sauteing your minced garlic and ginger in a large pot over medium high heat. Add little splashes of water when it starts to stick, and saute for 2 minutes.
Whisk the arrowroot powder or cornstarch and half a cup of water together until the powder has dissolved. Then add the rest of the sauce ingredients except for the other 1.5 cups of water.
Add the sauce ingredients to the pot and stir constantly for about 30 seconds or until the sauce becomes very thick. Turn the heat down to medium.
Now add the 1.5 cups of water, stir it in well, add your broccoli and mix it around so all the broccoli is coated with the sauce.
Cover and cook it over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
Now take the tofu out of the air fryer or oven and carefully add it to the broccoli and sauce mixture. Stir it around gently so as to incorporate everything without breaking the tofu.
Cook uncovered until everything is well incorporated, the broccoli is cooked to your liking, and the sauce is thickened to your desired consistency, about 2-3 more minutes (or reduce heat and simmer a little longer if you like your broccoli really soft).
Serve the vegan beef and broccoli over your rice or grain of choice, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and enjoy!
Other Chinese Takeout Inspired Recipes
I love vegan Chinese takeout inspired food. While this food is definitely not authentic Chinese food, more like American Chinese restaurant food, many people including myself grew up loving some of these dishes and I decided it was definitely worthwhile to veganize and share my favorites.
Vegan Teriyaki Chicken with optional Brussels sprouts
Vegan Veggie Lo Mein (only takes 15 minutes!)
Vegan Teriyaki Cauliflower Wings (more like Chinese takeout and American fusion, oops)
As always, I hope you love this recipe–I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too.
This Vegan Beef and Broccoli is:
- And a little spicy (add or lower spice as desired)!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!