Stirfried Beef with Onions

I like to think of myself as a Michael Pollan vegetarian – this quote from him is my motto: “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” As you can probably tell by the recipes on this blog, I tend toward vegetarianism – not complete, and certainly not veganism (love that cheese a bit too much…). I feel healthier when I don’t eat meat, but sometimes I crave it. I also have issues with the manner in which most of our meat is treated, both before it’s slaughtered, during the process, and after it’s dead. (For an eye-opening examination of this sad topic, read Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma or, in briefer form, his “Power Steer.”)

However, I live with a family of carnivores, so our recent compromise has been to purchase sustainably raised and as humanely treated as possible meat products: eggs, fish, chicken, meat. I was thrilled to discover a new vendor at the Torrance Farmers’ Market, then – J&J Grassfed Beef sells all natural, 100% grass fed/grass finished beef. The health claims in their brochure have been substantiated elsewhere (see this somewhat academic article by scholars at CSU Chico and a simpler version at NutritionData or just Google the words “grass fed beef nutrition data”), and after purchasing their product, I can vouch for the quality and taste of the meat! If you have never tried grass fed meat (our market also features grassfed bison!) I highly recommend it – if you eat it as infrequently as we do, the higher price is worth every penny. Many ranches that raise cattle this way will also sell you a part of (or a whole!) steer, butchered to your specifications and freezer-ready. The up-front cost is high, but then you’re set for probably a year. For a provider near you, visit Local Harvest‘s site.

Here, then, is a great recipe to try with grass fed beef! J&J Beef sells stirfry meat precut – I did cut it up further – or you can use flank steak or a similar cut.


  • 1/2 lb grass fed beef, cut into thin strips across the grain, approximately 2×1/2×1/4″
  • 1 onion, approximately 1/2 lb, cut into 1/4″ half-rings
  • 2 slices fresh ginger root
  • 3 T oil
  • 1 T light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • salt to taste



  1. Combine the marinade ingredients and mix thoroughly with the beef, then let it sit for at least 1/2 h (if longer, refrigerate it).
  2. Combine the soy sauce and sugar and set aside.
  3. Drain the marinade off the meat, then mix in 1 T oil.
  4. Heat 1 T oil over high heat until it shimmers, then add the onion and stirfry quickly, no more than 1-1/2 m: the onion should remain somewhat crisp, not wilt. Remove to a plate.
  5. Heat 1 T oil over high heat until it shimmers, then “explode” the ginger until fragrant, then add the meat – it may be better to cook it in 2 batches, since you don’t crowd the wok, or the meat will steam and release too much juice. Stirfry constantly to keep slices separate until they lose their pink color.
  6. As soon as the color of the meat changes, add the soy sauce and sugar, add back the onion, and stir until everything is coated with sauce. DO NOT OVERCOOK, especially if you’re using grass fed beef, or the meat will be very tough.
  7. Adjust seasoning (you may not need to add any salt) and serve.

nutritional data:

This recipe calls for relatively large amounts of soy sauce and oil, but when eaten only on occasion and with plenty of brown rice and vegetable side dishes, it is perfectly safe for the average healthy individual. As with most recipes involving animal products, the ratio of fat calories to total calories is a bit high to begin with. You can try cutting down on the soy sauce and oil, but the results will definitely be different.

The figures below assume the dish serves 4 as part of a larger meal. I have used nutritional data on conventional flank steak (too early in the morning to do the math on grass fed?!), and I assume that approximately 1/2 of the marinade ingredients will be drained away.

  • Total calories 180, calories from fat 99
  • Total fat 11 g, saturated fat 3 g
  • Cholesterol 20 mg
  • Sodium 495 mg
  • Total carbs 7 g, dietary fiber 1 g, sugars 3 g
  • Total protein 13 g

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