This is a frugal yet excellent dinner for all those times when you need to scratch your Spicy Asian Food itch in a hurry! Seared ground beef is tossed through a fiery Firecracker Sauce, all served with rice or noodles, a bit like a spicy beef version of the much-loved Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Mince.
“I need a spicy Asian food fix!” It’s a well-known wailing that can be heard regularly from me, especially during intense periods of non-Asian cooking, such as while making the cookbook. Asian food lovers will understand exactly what I mean. It’s a recurring craving for taste that, when left unsatisfied for too long, rears its head like an awake beast.
The satisfaction that the beast seeks is special. It’s Asian food with chili peppers and big taste. I’m talking about Thai Drunken Noodles. Chili Garlic Shrimp. Dan Dan Noodles. laksa. Anything that tastes bold with a dollop of mouth-watering spicy heat. Nothing else will do!
The newest and arguably the fastest-to-make addition to my spicy Asian repertoire to fit the bill is this Firecracker Beef, aptly named because it’s a literal flavor explosion! Think spicy, deeply savory, a little sweet, all with some legs with a hint of vinegar.
It’s as delicious as they come and very, very quick to make!
What do you need for Firecracker Beef
You will need this to make Firecracker sauce.
Sriracha – A Thai chili sauce that is for sale everywhere these days (Asian aisle and/or sauce aisle from supermarkets). This is the main source of spiciness in this recipe. It also adds flavor because sriracha is made with more than just chili, including garlic, vinegar, salt, and sugar.
chili flakes (red pepper flakes) – The second source of spiciness in the dish, this adds a more earthy chilli flavor in addition to the spicy, fresh chilli flavor of the sriracha. To reduce the spiciness, first flip the chili flakes back before reducing sriracha. Sriracha adds more flavor to the dish than chili flakes, so it’s more essential.
Minced meat (ground beef) – Any fat percentage is fine: lean or standard. The fatter, the better the meat caramelizes.
other proteins – Ground chicken, pork, or turkey all work well with Firecracker sauce!
Sugar – The flavor profile of Firecracker sauce is spicy and sweet, so this is the sweet. It also helps to caramelize the beef, which adds even more flavor to the dish.
rice vinegar – This provides the sharpness in the dish to compensate for the sweet and savory. I use rice vinegar in keeping with the Asian spirit of this dish, but apple cider vinegar can be substituted in a pinch.
light soya – The primary source of salt for this recipe. All-purpose soy sauce can also be used, but not dark soy sauce because the flavor and color are too intense. Find out more about different types of soy sauces and how to replace them here!
Garlic – Fresh garlic is an essential aromatic flavor base found in 99% of my savory recipes. It would be hard to find a dinner recipe without garlic!
How do you make Firecracker Beef?
You are 15 minutes away from having fun sucking this up! Ready Set Go!
Fireworks sauce – Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
cooking beef – Use a large non-stick pan over high heat and cook the meat until you can no longer see the raw meat. Then add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook for a further 1 minute until the garlic pieces are golden brown.
Sauce it – Add the Firecracker sauce and cook over high heat for 5 to 7 minutes until the sauce settles and the meat begins to caramelize. Caramelizing is the key to making an insanely good firecracker somethingso don’t skip this step!
Make it moist – After the beef is caramelized, you will notice that it looks a bit dried out. This is because all the sauce has been reduced, caramelized and stuck to the beef (=flavor!) To correct this, we just add a splash of water to give the meat a little more juice and give it a spicier finish. Just stir and you’re done!
How to serve Firecracker Beef
My default setting is to serve over white rice with some raw vegetables (cucumber, carrot, and radish pictured). I love the crunchy, cooling and refreshing contrast they have with all that big flavor in the tender beef. For garnish, sprinkle with green onion, sesame seeds and a splash of extra sriracha if you think it’s going to be an extra spicy evening.
To eat, mix the beef with the rice and devour with a spoon. Since the beef is generous in flavor, I don’t even feel the need to dress over the vegetables. However, if you want something quick, try my Asian Sesame Dressing.
For something else….
It’s also great with soba noodles or vermicelli noodles (an excellent no-cook option). Or make Asian-inspired Sloppy Joes or Tacos:
Fill warm buttered sandwiches or tortillas with this Firecracker Beef along with a simple slaw or lettuce leaves
Quesadillas – Firecracker beef, cheese and any other add-ins you like!
Top with lightly pickled veggies like the carrot in Banh Mi, these Pickled Red Onions from Fish Tacos, or Cucumber Ribbons in Beetroot Cured Salmon
Finish with a splash of sriracha and for extra indulgence, some kewpie mayonnaise.
I haven’t made these before, but now I want to try them right away!! – Nagi x
Watch how you make it
Preparation: 3 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Tap or hover to scale
Sauce: Combine the Firecracker sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Cooking beef: Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add beef and cook, breaking it into pieces, until you can’t see the raw meat anymore (2½ minutes). Add garlic and chili flakes and cook for 1 minute.
Caramelize beef: Add Firecracker sauce ingredients, stirring to coat the beef. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring only every minute at the beginning, then more towards the end, until the sauce settles and you can see the meat caramelizing. Caramelize well for a good taste!
Water: Add the water and cook for 1 minute (the water makes the beef juicier!)
serve over rice, sprinkled with sesame seeds, green onion and a splash of extra sriracha if you’re feeling brave! Add a pile of vegetables of your choice. Dive in!
1. Other proteins – This recipe works well with ground pork, chicken, and turkey.
2. I am willow – Use light or universal soy. Do not use dark soy sauce, as the taste will be too intense. More about different types of soy sauce here.
3. Rice Vinegar – Replace with apple cider vinegar.
4. Sriracha – A Thai chili sauce that can be found everywhere these days. Adding more than just spiciness, it also adds flavor as it is flavored with garlic, vinegar, sugar and salt.
5. Storage – Leftover beef will keep for 3 to 4 days in the fridge or freezer for 3 months. When reheating, add a splash of water to flavor it!
6. Nutrition per serving, beef only (ie no rice or vegetables).
Calories: 326cali (16%)Carbohydrates: 13g (4%)Egg white: 26g (52%)Fat: 18g (28%)Saturated fat: 6g (38%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gtrans fat: 1gcholesterol: 81mg (27%)Sodium: 934mg (41%)Potassium: 472mg (13%)Fiber: 0.3g (1%)Sugar: 12g (13%)Vitamin A: 51IU (1%)Vitamin C: 11mg (13%)Calcium: 38mg (4%)Iron: 3mg (17%)
The life of Bulldozer
Cheating with Dozer in Melbourne during a book signing over the weekend. Surprisingly many people brought their dogs!!!
Then reunited 12 hours later. ️
I spent so much time answering questions about him at the signings that I was going to miss him like crazy!! But the logistics of getting him to Melbourne were just too heavy. We’ll make it happen next book! He was in high demand, that’s for sure.