Crispy Chilli Beef

Get all your ingredients, pots, pans etc out in advance, otherwise you’ll be more tempted to ring your local takeaway!

I’ve mentioned it before on this blog that it’s easier to create authentic, calorie-reduced Chinese takeaways compared to Indian counterparts. Crispy Chilli Beef from Pinch of Nom’s latest book (Quick and Easy) is a case in point. If you follow Nom’s tip (buy the book) to leave it until the last minute to add the beef strips to the sauce they will stay crispy for a bit longer. I was pleasantly surprised by how realistic our crispy beef turned out.

The authenticity and cost to make this dish – approx £2.60 per portion (considerably less compared to what you’d pay from a takeaway) are the positives. The negatives are the ball ache in terms of how long this recipe takes to make and that your kitchen will resemble a bombsite afterwards. I felt quite overwhelmed by the long list of ingredients involved and subsequent clean-up job required. Pinch of Nom’s stopwatch, which suggests only 10 minutes of preparation is required, must be faulty! Or, I’m just woefully shite in the kitchen.

While this dish undoubtedly tastes good (though I’d use a smaller red pepper if making again), fakeaways need to be more than just about recreating the likeness of your favourite takeaway and cutting down on the calories. They’ve got to be simple enough and quick to make, otherwise you may as well give yourself a night off and ring for a fucking takeaway yourself! By the time I’d sat down to make this, I was already frazzled, more so than the crispy beef on my plate!

For more fakeaway ideas, click here.

Recipe: Crispy Chilli Beef

Calories: 349 per serving without rice and/or steamed vegetables

Serves: 4

Book: Pinch of Nom – Quick and Easy

Prep time: Approx 30 mins

Cooking time: Approx 25 minutes


  • 1 ½ tbsp self-raising flour
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 500g rump steak (cut into thin strips)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 1 red pepper (deseeded and sliced)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and cut into thin strips)
  • ½ onion (peeled and sliced)
  • 5 spring onions (trimmed and chopped)
  • 2 good pinches of dried chilli flakes (or ½ a chopped red chilli – deseeded)
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled and finely chopped)
  • 1.5cm piece of root ginger (peeled and finely chopped)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp granulated sweetener
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce (dark soy sauce works well, but light is fine too)
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 drops Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings, or another hot/chilli sauce
  • 100ml beef stock (1/2 beef stock cube dissolved in 100ml boiling water)

To accompany:

  • 80g steamed vegetables (approx 38 calories) or 50g uncooked basmati rice per portion, cooked according to packet instructions (approx. 173 calories per 125g cooked serving)

Cost per portion: Approx £2.61 (with rice)


Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C / Fan 200 degrees C / gas mark 7.

Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Season the strips of beef with salt and pepper, dip each one into the beaten egg, then quickly drag it through the flour to give it a light coating. Place each piece of coated beef on a baking tray sprayed with a fair-bit of low-calorie cooking spray, then give the strips a spray too. You could even put them on a piece of baking parchment to ensure they don’t stick. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until the beef is crispy. You can turn them over towards the end if needed.

While the beef is cooking, spray a wok or large frying pan with some low-calorie cooking spray. Over a medium-hot heat, fry the pepper, carrot, onion, spring onions, chilli flakes, garlic and ginger. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the lime juice, granulated sweetener, soy sauce, rice vinegar and honey. Stir, then add a couple of drops of Frank’s sauce and the 100ml of beef stock.

Allow to cook for a minute then add the cooked beef strips. Stir well and serve with your choice of accompaniment.


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