Asian 5-Spice Sesame Beef & Sugar Snap Peas

Asian 5-Spice Beef Sugar Snap Pea Stirfry

I love Chinese food. Especially when it’s raining outside and there’s nothing else to do but cozy up under the covers and watch a movie or two like I did last weekend. I was craving some stir fry that day but instead of ordering the usual from my favorite place on 3rd Avenue, I decided to whip up my own dish with some steak, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts and scallions that I had on hand. I thought I would spice it up a little bit with a 5-spice powder I found in my pantry that I have to admit, have never used.

5-spice powder has a slightly sweet and spicy flavor to it that should be used very sparingly, as it is quite potent! It’s a mixture of cinnamon, anise, fennel, ginger, clove and licorice root and the smell actually reminds me of those little German holiday cookies flavored with anise and covered in powdered sugar that my Mom is obsessed with. You really only need a sprinkle of it in the steak marinade so it doesn’t overwhelm the stir fry dish with its intense flavoring. You might even want to try 5-spice on duck, spare ribs or pork as it complements these meats quite well when prepared as an Asian Barbecued Char Siu dish.

Super easy to make and super tasty to eat.. it definitely hit the spot for my lazy, rainy Sunday when I would have rather ordered an egg roll and some Won Ton soup and analyzed my fortune or learned a new word in Chinese. And yes, the leftovers tasted even better the next day.


1 lb. Angus Steak, sliced thin
1/4 c. Soy Sauce
1 1/2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Cornstarch
1/2 tbsp Sesame Seeds
1/2 tsp Five Spice Powder
1 can of water chestnuts, diced
4-6 oz. Sugar Snap Peas, Ends Trimmed
3 Scallions, sliced
1 1/2 tbsp Sesame Oil
Crushed Red Pepper
Brown or White Rice, cooked


Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch, sesame seeds and five spice powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the sliced steak and let marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes up to an hour.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a heavy cast iron or nonstick skillet or wok over high heat. Add sugar snap peas and cook, stirring often for about 1 minute. Remove peas and set aside. Add water chestnuts and cook for another few minutes and remove from pan, adding to reserved sugar snap peas.

Add the additional 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the pan and allow pan to heat up again to high. Add half of the steak and scallions, reserving marinade in bowl, and cook for about 1 minute (don’t stir to allow a nice golden browning of the steak). Turn the meat over and cook for about another 30 seconds (don’t overcook as you don’t want the steak to get tough). Remove steak and scallions from the pan and reserve on a plate to the side.

Let the pan heat to high again, and then add the rest of the uncooked steak and scallions. Cook for another minute and turn steak over, adding the first batch of steak and scallions, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, and reserved marinade to the pan. Stir everything together over high heat for about 30 seconds, then turn off the heat. Let sit in the pan for another minute so the sauce has a chance to thicken a little.

Serve the stir fry mixture over the rice, sprinkling some crushed red pepper and additional sesame seeds for garnish.

Serves 4.

Other Stir Fry recipes you may enjoy:
Spicy Beef Stir Fry
Stir-fried Beef with Broccoli and Ginger
Ginger Beef Stir Fry


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