Larry’s Holy Basil Beef

This week I have another recipe using fresh basil from my endless garden supply. It is a stir fry recipe with top round steak–a leaner and healthier cut of beef. The recipe is from my brother-in-law who enjoys cooking; and according to the title it tastes outstanding.Holy Basil Beef - IMG_4783

Larry’s Holy Basil Beef

This recipe is an easy stir fry dish with beef and vegetables. When served over rice it makes a tasty one-pot meal. The beef marinates in soy sauce and sherry. With some garlic, ginger and basil added it makes a flavorful beef dish with an oriental touch. Larry cuts the round steak into thin strips, helping overcome the chewy nature of this cut of beef. Beef perhaps has received a bad rap; but it is high in protein and iron and makes a valuable nutritional contribution to our diet.

Cooking Round Steak

Back in my high school days, we took Home Economics. No one really wanted take the class. However, I have to say that all of my high school courses — English, science, physics, history —  the lessons on “beef” were some of the most practical ones and they have stuck with me over the years.

Round steak is a little misleading. It is not a cut of steak at all. Try to broil or grill it like a T-bone steak, for example, you’ll end up with a tough and chewy piece of meat. Not really edible. Round steak comes from the rear of a steer; where the cattle walk and move. The meat is lean and flavorful; with not much fat but the beef has strong connective tissue. Quite different from a “steak” that comes from the loin of the back with little movement–these cuts are tender and juicy and much higher in fat content.

Round steak and other cuts of beef from the rear of the cattle are best cooked slowly on the stove, oven or crock pot with added sauces and water. The connective tissue and beef tenderizes as it slowly cooks and the end result is a flavorful and tender piece of meat that falls off the bone.

This recipe takes another approach. The round steak is cut into thin strips across the grain and stir fried. Still a little chewy, but the meat cooks quickly and is flavorful.


Here’s the endless supply of basil growing in my garden. I asked Larry, my brother-in-law, for some ideas to use the basil; he gave me several recipes. Holy Basil Beef is unique; I wouldn’t necessarily pair basil with beef but it works. Basil Growing in Garden - 2 - IMG_4632

Holy Basil Beef Ingredients

Here are the ingredients for the recipe which I adapted from Larry’s recipe. Ingredients for Holy Basil Beef - IMG_4765Cut the beef in thin strips, trimming the fat. Sliced round steak - IMG_4766

The recipe includes some of my favorite seasonings — garlic, green onions, ginger and, of course, basil. Chop these finely.Seasonings for Holy Basil Beef - IMG_4769

Marinate the beef slices in sherry, soy sauce and the seasonings.

Beef marinating in soy sauce and sherry - IMG_4771

Slice or dice the vegetables. Larry suggests steaming the carrots first in a microwave because they take longer to cook than most other vegetables. Add water to cover the carrot strips, microwave for about 2 minutes until sightly tender. Stir fry the vegetables in a little oil. Larry used broccoli and celery. I had onions, carrots and zucchini on hand. And I added some pimento for red color and flavor. Use whatever vegetables suits your taste.Vegetables for recipe - IMG_4770

After the vegetables are tender, set aside and stir fry the beef in oil. Brown a few minutes on each side until cooked.Stir fry beef - IMG_4774

Dissolve chicken bouillon in hot water. Meanwhile dissolve the cornstarch in a little cold water. Combine and add to the beef and continue to cook until the cornstarch thickens and makes a nice sauce. Add back the vegetables, serve with hot cooked rice. Garnish with additional basil.Holy Basil Beef - 2 - IMG_4778

Easy enough. A one dish supper.


Larry's Holy Basil Beef

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2/3 to 3/4 lb beef (round steak or sirloin); trimmed and cut into strips about 1/4 ” thick
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sherry
  • 8 to 10 basil leaves and stalks, chopped
  • 3 green onions, green tops sliced (reserve white portions)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • oil
  • 2 cups vegetables cut in bite size pieces–broccoli, celery, whites of green onions, yellow onions, zucchini, red pimento or red peppers, carrots (pre-cook in microwave–cover carrots with water and microwave for about 2 minutes)
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • additional fresh basil leaves for garnish

Method and steps

  1. Whisk together soy sauce sherry, chopped basil leaves, green onion tops, garlic and ginger.
  2. Add marinate to beef strips, stir to combine. Allow to marinate in refrigerator for one hour.
  3. Heat about 2 Tbsp oil in large skillet until medium high, stir fry vegetables until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove vegetables from skillet and set aside.
  4. Add beef strips plus marinate with seasonings to skillet. Add additional oil if needed. Stir fry for several minutes, turning beef on each side, until beef is browned and cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile, dissolve the chicken bouillon cube in 1/2 cup hot water. Set aside.
  6. Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup cold water. Slowly pour cornstarch/water into the dissolved chicken bouillon, stirring constantly.
  7. Reduce stove to medium heat. Add liquid to the beef strips and stir until the cornstarch is thickened and bubbly. Add back the vegetables and heat through.
  8. Serve over hot rice. Garnish with additional basil leaves.


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