Crazy Szechuan Beef and Messy Corn with Shishito

This corn dish is a fun side that uses many of the same ingredients as the beef recipe. From summer through fall, make this with corn on the cob; but in the winter, substitute 4 cups of frozen fire-roasted corn kernels. Simple white rice is great with both dishes.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 30 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Steak and Marinade:

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds flat iron steak, flank steak or thin-cut sirloin steak

3 tablespoons cornstarch 

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar 

1 tablespoon soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce 

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 

1 1/2 teaspoons ground Szechuan peppercorns 

1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric (only if not using fresh; see Vegetables and Sauce)

Vegetables and Sauce:

1 1/2 inches ginger root

1 1/2 inches turmeric root (OR add ground turmeric to marinade; see Steak and Marinade) 

4 cloves garlic 

About 1/3 cup soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce 

2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry (a fat splash) 

1 tablespoon sweet chile sauce, chile garlic sauce or sriracha 

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 

1 tablespoon cornstarch 

1 large carrot 

1 red field pepper or other mild pepper, such as bell 

4 to 5 scallions or 2 thin leeks, trimmed 

4 to 5 tablespoons peanut oil or other neutral oil

A handful of small dried Asian chile peppers, optional 

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish, optional

Messy Corn and Shishito Peppers, recipe follows

Messy Corn and Shishito Peppers:

3 ears corn on the cob

About 2 tablespoons peanut oil or other neutral oil 

One 8-ounce package or about 20 to 24 shishito peppers 

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or grated 

1 inch ginger root, grated or chopped 

1 tablespoon chile garlic sauce or sriracha

1 tablespoon soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce 

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar 

About 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil 

2 scallions, sliced

A handful of cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped or picked 


  1. For the steak and marinade: Place steak in freezer for a few minutes to firm up a bit, then thinly slice on a bias against the grain.
  2. In a shallow dish, stir up marinade and spices: cornstarch, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, cumin, Szechuan pepper and ground turmeric if using. Add meat and coat, then let stand 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. For the vegetables and sauce: Peel ginger and turmeric if using and grate or mince. Chop or grate garlic. In a small bowl, whisk up sauce: ginger, garlic, turmeric, soy, Shaoxing rice wine or sherry, sweet chile sauce, chile garlic sauce or sriracha and sesame oil. Place about the cornstarch in smaller bowl or ramekin.
  4. Peel and chop carrot into thin matchsticks. Quarter pepper lengthwise, remove seeds and thinly slice across. Cut the scallions 1 inch on bias.
  5. Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick pan over high heat with peanut oil, 2 turns of the pan. Cook beef in 2 batches if necessary to crisp, about 3 minutes each. Add another turn of pan of oil and stir-fry the carrot, peppers and Asian chiles, if using, and toss for a minute. Add sauce to the pan. Add a splash of water to cornstarch and add to sauce to thicken. Add beef and toss, then add half the scallions. Transfer to bowl and top with remaining scallions and sesame seeds, if using. Serve with Messy Corn and Shishito Peppers.

Messy Corn and Shishito Peppers:

  1. Shuck the corn unless you bought it prepped by produce department. Cut the corn on the cob into 2-inch chunks.
  2. Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over high heat with peanut oil, 2 turns of the pan, add corn and peppers and blister and brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat a bit and add garlic, ginger, chile sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and scallions. Toss another minute, transfer to platter and top with cilantro.
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