The Washington Post

Wok-Fried Black Pepper Beef and Celery

Wok-Fried Black Pepper Beef and Celery 2.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Dec 31, 2014

In short order, shallot and garlic are caramelized, and they come together with a touch of sweetness.

Many recipes call for freshly ground black pepper, but a cook who has pepper on hand that’s already ground might reach for that instead. Here, grinding whole peppercorns is a must.

The gia vi spice blend used in this recipe calls for no special ingredients (see NOTE, below). It is especially popular in Northern Vietnamese cooking.

Serve on its own, or atop vermicelli rice noodles.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2 servings

  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/2 small shallot
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (see headnote)
  • 1/2 teaspoon gia vi (see headnote and NOTE)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces boneless rib-eye steak or sirloin steak
  • 3 medium ribs celery
  • A few tender cilantro stems with leaves, for garnish


Crush the garlic, then mince it, along with the shallot.

Whisk together half of the garlic-shallot mixture, gia vi, the pepper, sugar and 2 teaspoons of the oil in a wide, shallow baking dish.

Trim visible fat from the meat, then cut the meat into short, very thin slices, placing it in the dish as you work. Turn all the pieces over so they are evenly coated; let them sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Meanwhile, cut the celery crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.

Heat the remaining oil in a wok or deep-sided saute pan over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat the sides, then add the remaining garlic-shallot mixture; stir-fry just until fragrant, making sure the garlic does not burn. Add the beef and its marinade; stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until browned, then add the celery; stir-fry just until the celery is coated and glistening yet still crisp, and some of the pieces of meat have just begun to caramelize.

Divide between wide, shallow bowls; garnish with the cilantro. Serve right away.

NOTE: To make the gia vi spice blend, combine 1/4 teaspoon of sugar, 1/8 teaspoon of fine sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.

Rate it

Recipe Source

Adapted from "The Vietnamese Market Cookbook," by Van Tran and Anh Vu (Running Press, 2014)

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at

Avg. Rating (3)

Rate this recipe

Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 360

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 26g 40%

Saturated Fat: 6g 30%

Cholesterol: 75mg 25%

Sodium: 220mg 9%

Total Carbohydrates: 8g 3%

Dietary Fiber: 1g 4%

Sugar: 4g

Protein: 23g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

Most Read Lifestyle