Chinese Chilli Poached Beef (水煮牛肉 – Shuǐ zhǔ niúròu)


This traditional Sichuan technique translates as water-boiled. It employs thin slices of meat or fish that are shortly cooked in water or broth and are then placed on a bed of various vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, spinach, bean sprouts, or celery.

The dish is then doused in a fiery sauce made with fried chilis and Sichuan peppercorns, and lastly, it is finished off with generous amounts of sizzling oil. Shuizhu-style dishes are characterized by their pungent, spicy flavor, while the main ingredients stay fresh and tender.

Chinese Chilli Poached Beef (水煮牛肉 – Shuǐ zhǔ niúròu)

Recipe by Chinese Cooking DemystifiedCourse: MainCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Medium


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This traditional Sichuan technique translates as water-boiled. It employs thin slices of meat or fish that are shortly cooked in water or broth and are then placed on a bed of various vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, spinach, bean sprouts, or celery.


  • Ingredients to prep the beef and veg:
  • Beef loin, 500g.

  • Water, 120g.

  • Meat tenderizer powder 12g.

  • 1 Egg,

  • Salt, 1 tsp.

  • Cornstarch 1 tbsp

  • Soyabean Sprouts, 300g

  • Salt, ½ tsp. To season the soyabean sprouts while stir-frying.

  • Chicken boullion powder, 1 tsp.

  • Ingredients for the ‘soup’ and the chili-flavored oil.
  • Chili bean paste , 2/3 cup.

  • Garlic, 1 head.

  • Ginger, ~1 inch.

  • White-part-of-the-green onion, ~3.

  • 750mL Water mixed with 1 tsp stock concentrate and ¼ tsp of MSG.

  • Slurry of ½ tbsp. cornstarch mixed with a little water. After we cook the beef in the ‘soup’, we’ll thicken it with some cornstarch.

  • Oil, 500 mL.

  • Cut dried chilis, 100g.

  • Sichuan peppercorn, 1 tbsp.

  • Chopped Cilantro. For garnish


  • Cut, deseed, and soak your dried chilis. These should be soaked in water for at least thirty minutes before using.
  • Slice the beef loin and massage in the meat tenderizer powder. The beef should be cut really thin… thicker slices of beef will end up being rather tough after boiling. To help it along, tossing it in the freezer for about twenty minutes’ll make it easier to slice.
  • Slap the 120g of water into the beef, working a bit at a time until it’s completely saturated. It’s a little difficult to describe the ‘slapping’ technique, so take a look at 1:11 in the video for a visual. Add a little bit of water at a time (let’s say… 30g?) and slap it into the beef until it’s completely saturated – you’ll know it’s saturated if you can squeeze the beef and it’ll drip water. The final amount of water added will depend on your cut and quality of beef – if you have something tougher like leg, it’ll take almost double the water. Just use the 120g at a guidepost – this isn’t an exact science, simply get it to the point of saturation.
  • Marinate the beef with one egg, 1 tsp of salt, and 1 tbsp of cornstarch. Let that marinate for about 20-30 minutes. Quick note that the cornstarch quantity in the narration for the video was a little off – we used 1 tbsp of cornstarch, not 2 tsp.
  • Blanch, then fry the beansprouts. Set at the bottom of the serving bowl. Follow the standard fried veg technique of blanching then stir-frying the beansprouts – blanch the beansprouts in boiling water for about 20 seconds, rinse to stop the cooking process, then stir-fry for about a minute over medium-high heat. While they’re stir-frying, season the beansprouts with a half teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of chicken bouillon powder.
  • Make the ‘soup’ based by first frying the chili bean paste, the garlic, ginger, and green onion whites. Then add water, stock concentrate, and MSG and bring to a boil. Fry the chili bean paste for roughly two minutes at medium heat, then toss in the aromatics. Fry that til it smells real nice (~1 minute), then add in the water, stock concentrate, and MSG. Again, if you’re one of those people that’s violently opposed to MSG, just don’t add it. Get that to a rolling boil.
  • Boil the beef in the ‘soup’ mixture til done, then lay it over the beansprouts in the serving bowl. Ok, so the idea for this boil is sort of similar to cooking meat at hotpot – you want it boiled for just long enough to be done and not a second longer. Obviously, the exact timing’ll depend on how heavy your boil is. For reference, for us this was about 90 seconds. Once it’s finished, lay the cooked beef over the sprouts in the serving bowl.
  • Thicken the soup mixture with your slurry of cornstarch and water, then ladle the soup over the beef and sprouts, and add in the remainder of the garlic. Add in the slurry, bring back to a boil. Then ladle the soup over the beans and sprouts in the serving bowl until it’s covering the beef – you’ll probably have a little extra, just toss it. Sprinkle the remaining minced garlic (~a half bulb) over the mixture.
  • Fry the Sichuan peppercorns and dried chilis in 160C oil. Get that 500mL of oil up to about 160 centigrade, then add in the Sichuan peppercorns. Let that fry for about a minute, then add in the chilis. Quick note that it’s really best practice to drain the chilis in a strainer before adding them to your hot oil – doing what we did for the video is probably like a ‘top five dumbest cooking thing that could’ve gone terribly wrong but thankfully didn’t’. Let the chilis fry for roughly three minutes in the oil.
  • Add the chilis and oil over top of everything in the serving bowl. This should yield a nice satisfying sizzle if done immediately.
  • Pull some of the beef to the top of the bowl and garnish with some cilantro to make everything all pretty.

Recipe Video


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