Cumin-flavored stir-fried beef pairs well with a drink to nurse during dinner

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Cumin-flavored stir-fried beef

Cumin-flavored stir-fried beef is a spicy side dish that pairs well with a drink during dinner. Culinary researcher Wu Wen said that while cumin does have a strong flavor, it goes well with meat, and she introduces a unique way to use the spice.

Many have an image of cumin being from Arab countries or West Asia, but the spice is often used in Chinese cuisine, too, Wu said.

“Beef, mutton and lamb used for home cooking in China have somewhat unique smells and tastes,” Wu said. “Cumin moderates those peculiarities, and it’s a handy spice that brings out the remarkable flavor of the meat.”

Wu grinds cumin seeds into a powder to enhance the spice’s aroma.

“Ground cumin is good, but I recommend taking extra time to reduce it to a powder,” Wu said, adding, “doing so brings out the aroma even more.”

Wu stir-fries the powder with beef and in-season leeks. The key is properly prepping the beef. She said it is important to remove any excess fat and odor by blanching the meat.

“The prepping process helps keep the meat’s delicious flavor,” Wu said. “The dish is great cold, too, and you can enjoy it while slowly enjoying a drink.”

Place the meat in an ample amount of boiling water. After a little while, scum will float to the surface. Boil until the meat is heated thoroughly and all the scum has come out.

When moving the meat from the pan to a strainer, make sure that there is no scum on the meat.

“Next, quickly stir-fry the meat to bring out its umami,” Wu said.

Add the seasonings and leeks when the cumin starts to produce an aroma and stir-fry further. When the leeks become tender, turn off the heat, add the coriander, and let it warm up with the residual heat. Do not overcook the coriander as it adds to the aroma of the dish.

The savory scent from the cumin in the freshly cooked dish whets the appetite. Upon taking a bite, the crunchy texture of the coriander and the meat’s umami are released in the mouth. Although this side dish works with a variety of drinks, it pairs particularly well with beer. Why not make this snack a regular feature on your dining room table?

Cumin-flavored stir-fried beef

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • 250 grams thinly sliced beef
  • 20-centimeter-long leek
  • 1 to 2 sprigs coriander
  • 1 to 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1/3 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp starch powder
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp black vinegar


1. Cut the beef into bite-size pieces. Cut the leek into thin slices. Cut the coriander into 3-centimeter-long pieces.

2. Grind the cumin seeds into powder in a mortar.

3. Boil water in a pan, add the beef and cook thoroughly. Drain well in a strainer.

4. Put the beef, sake, cumin, salt and starch powder in a bowl and mix to season the meat.

5. Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan. Add the beef and stir-fry so it blends well with the oil. When the cumin’s aroma is noticeable, season with the soy sauce and black vinegar. Add the leeks and stir-fry. When the aromatic smell of the soy sauce wafts up, turn off the heat. Add the coriander, mix lightly and serve on a plate.

Making soup stock with leeks

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Leak soup using soup stock

“I also recommend using leeks to make soup stock like dashi,” Wu said as she shared her recipe for soy sauce-flavored soup with browned leeks.

Cut one leek diagonally into 1-centimeter-wide slices and heat them in a pot with 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. When the leeks start to brown, add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. When it starts to produce an aroma, add 1/2 tablespoon of black vinegar and 500 milliliters of water and bring to a boil. Add 2 beaten eggs and season with pepper to finish.