What is Pepper Steak?

Do you want to know what pepper steak is? Oops! It seems we’ve encountered a tiny typo. Did you mean “pepper steak?” If so, you’re in for a treat as we delve into the mouthwatering realm of this popular dish. We’ll help you know what pepper steak is, its evolution, variations, and more!

Let’s get into the main meat of this article!

What is Pepper Steak?

Pepper steak is a Chinese dish, locally known as “qīngjiāo ròusī (青椒炒肉絲).” 

You might confuse it with black pepper-seasoned steak. Yet, it’s not true. In a “pepper steak,” pepper refers to bell peppers, and steak is for beef steak sliced thinly against the grain.

It’s made with stir-fried beef slices cooked with sliced bell peppers and bamboo shoots.

It’s relatively easy to prepare pepper steak in a short amount of time. To make pepper steak, the beef is stir-fried in a hot wok or skillet until brown. Then, bell peppers, ginger, garlic, and onions are added and stir-fried for a few minutes. In the end, soy sauce, cornstarch, and water are added and cooked until the sauce is thickened.

A Brief History of Pepper Steak

Pepper steak, a Chinese dish, is believed to be originated in the Fujian province during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), though the exact origin of pepper steak is unknown. The province is known for the use of chili peppers in its cuisine, and pepper steak is one of the many dishes that feature this ingredient.

Pepper steak was introduced to the United States in the early 20th century and quickly became popular. It is now a staple of Chinese restaurants and takeout places nationwide.

Here is a timeline of the history of pepper steak:

  • 1644-1912: originated in the Fujian province of China during the Qing dynasty.
  • Early 20th century: Pepper steak was introduced to the United States.
  • 1948: Evidence for the dish’s existence in the United States dates from at least 1948.
  • The 1950s: Pepper steak became a popular dish in Chinese restaurants and takeout places across the United States.
  • Present day: Pepper steak is still famous in Chinese and American restaurants and takeout places.

What are the Different Variations of Pepper Steak?

Though not pepper steak, several variations of pepper steak are popular worldwide. It hints at the worldwide popularity of pepper steak. Here are a few of the most popular types:

Szechuan Pepper Steak

It’s a type of pepper steak made with Szechuan peppercorns, which give it a unique numbing and spicy flavor. It pairs with chili sauce well.

Mongolian Pepper Steak

Mongolian Pepper Steak is made with Mongolian beef, a type of stir-fried beef typically flavored with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and onions. It’s served with rice.

Thai Pepper Steak

Thai Pepper Steak is made with Thai chili peppers, which give it a fiery flavor. It’s typically served with rice or noodles.

Korean Pepper Steak

This type of pepper steak is made with Korean chili peppers, which give it a smoky and spicy flavor. It is typically served with rice or noodles.

These are just a few of the variations of pepper steak. You can find pepper steak in many cuisines with some alteration in ingredients.

What ingredients are used to make pepper steak?

Pepper steak is made using a list of ingredients. Among them, a few popular ingredients are listed below:

  • Thinly sliced Flank or sirloin beef steak (it’s sliced against the grain)
  • Bell peppers 
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Beef broth
  • Soy sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Cornstarch
  • Brown sugar

You can make it at home in a few minutes by following an authentic recipe for pepper steak.

Is Pepper Steak Healthier?

Pepper steak is a relatively healthy dish, as it’s an excellent source of lean protein and iron. It’s also a good source of vitamins A and C. 

Here is a nutritional breakdown of a typical serving of pepper steak:

  • Calories: 317
  • Fat: 8.3 g
  • Saturated fat: 3.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 52 mg
  • Sodium: 338 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 6.8 g
  • Dietary fiber: 0.7 g
  • Sugars: 1.8 g
  • Protein: 17 g

In a nutshell, pepper steak is a relatively healthy dish that can be enjoyed as a balanced diet.

Here are some tips for making pepper steak even healthier:

  • Use lean beef, like Flank steak.
  • Use less oil when cooking. 
  • Add more vegetables of your choice besides bell peppers

Following these tips can make pepper steak a healthier and more nutritious dish.


What are the different ways to serve pepper steak?

Pepper steak is a delicious and versatile dish that can be served as a main course or side dish. You can serve it with various sides. Here are a few ideas:

  • Serve over rice or noodles–the most common way to serve pepper steak.
  • Enjoy pepper steak with vegetables like broccoli, carrots, or snow peas. Besides adding color and flavor to your dish, these vegetables make the dish healthier.
  • You can serve pepper steak with a side salad – a refreshing way to round out the meal.
  • Serve with a dipping sauce, such as soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or chili sauce – though it’s less healthy.

No matter how you serve it, pepper steak will surely be a hit!

What type of beef is used in pepper steak?

The type of beef used in pepper steak can vary, but flank steak, sirloin steak, and round steak are all popular choices. The beef is typically sliced thinly against the grain. You can get the best pepper steak beef at Sam’s Club.

Can you have pepper steak on keto?

Yes, you can have pepper steak on keto. Pepper steak is low in carbohydrates: it has about 2% carbohydrates. You can further make pepper steak keto-friendly by using the right ingredients and avoiding carbohydrates. 

Here are a few tips for making keto pepper steak:

  • Use any beef cut that fits your keto macros.
  • Use a sugar-free sauce or create sauce at home using keto-friendly ingredients.
  • Use keto thickeners like guar gum or xanthan gum instead of cornstarch. 

By following these tips, you can make pepper steak a keto-friendly dish you can enjoy on your keto diet.

Is pepper steak gluten-free?

No, pepper steak isn’t gluten-free. Primary ingredients, like beef, bell peppers, and cornstarch, have no gluten in them. Yet, the sauces used in the recipe, like soy sauce, have gluten.

The fact that pepper steak isn’t gluten-free shouldn’t keep you from enjoying this healthy beef delight. You can use gluten-free soy sauce or its alternatives to prepare gluten-free pepper steak at home.




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