What Is Rainbow Beef? Experts Explain

Rainbow Beef – the name itself is enough to pique your curiosity. Is it a dish made with colorful beef? Or is it a dish that’s served with a rainbow of sauces?

Well, it’s neither.

Rainbow Beef is a classic Cantonese takeout dish that’s fried until irresistibly crispy and then coated in a sweet and sticky glaze. The dish gets its name from the colorful bell peppers used in the recipe, which give it a rainbow-like appearance.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at what Rainbow Beef is, how it’s made, and why it’s so finger-lickin’ good.

So, get ready to tantalize your taste buds with this delicious Chinese takeout dish!

What Is Rainbow Beef?

Rainbow Beef is a popular Chinese takeout dish that’s made with lean flank steak, shiitake mushrooms, and colorful bell peppers. The dish is fried until crispy and then coated in a sweet and sticky glaze that makes it irresistible.

The name “Rainbow Beef” comes from the colorful bell peppers used in the recipe, which give the dish a rainbow-like appearance. The peppers are sliced into thin strips and stir-fried with the beef and mushrooms, creating a colorful and flavorful dish.

The Origins Of Rainbow Beef

The origins of the term “Rainbow Beef” are not clear, but it is believed to have originated in Chinese cuisine. The dish is similar to other classic Chinese takeout dishes, such as General Tso’s Chicken and Orange Chicken, which are also fried and coated in a sweet and sticky sauce.

The colorful appearance of Rainbow Beef is due to the use of bell peppers, which are a common ingredient in Chinese cuisine. Bell peppers come in a variety of colors, including red, yellow, orange, and green, which add a vibrant and eye-catching element to the dish.

Interestingly, there is also a phenomenon known as “meat rainbows” that can occur when light hits a slice of meat. This creates a diffraction grating, which splits the light into different colors like a rainbow. While this may cause concern for some people who believe it is a sign of spoilage or contamination, it is actually a natural occurrence caused by the elements present in the meat.

Ingredients Used In Rainbow Beef

Rainbow Beef is a simple yet delicious dish that requires a few key ingredients. Here are the ingredients used in Rainbow Beef:

1. Lean Flank Steak: This is the main ingredient in Rainbow Beef. It is thinly sliced into 2-inch wide strips and then cut across the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices. The steak is then tossed with cornstarch, rice wine or dry sherry, low sodium soy sauce, minced garlic cloves, salt, pepper, cold water, and sesame oil.

2. Shiitake Mushrooms: These mushrooms are a great addition to Rainbow Beef. They add a meaty texture and a rich, earthy flavor to the dish. The stems are removed, and the caps are quartered before being added to the wok.

3. Colorful Bell Peppers: These peppers are sliced into thin strips and added to the wok along with the mushrooms. They give the dish its signature rainbow-like appearance and add a sweet, crunchy flavor.

4. Hoisin Sauce: This sauce is a sweet and savory condiment made from soybeans, garlic, vinegar, and sugar. It is used to coat the beef and vegetables in Rainbow Beef, giving them a sticky glaze that’s full of flavor.

5. Rice Wine or Dry Sherry: This ingredient is used to marinate the beef before it’s stir-fried. It helps to tenderize the meat and adds a subtle sweetness to the dish.

6. Soy Sauce: This ingredient adds salty umami flavor to the dish.

7. Garlic and Ginger: These two ingredients are used to add a pungent kick of flavor to Rainbow Beef.

8. Sesame Oil: This ingredient adds a nutty aroma and flavor to the dish.

9. Cornstarch: This ingredient is used to coat the beef before it’s stir-fried. It helps to thicken the sauce and create a crispy texture on the outside of the beef.

How To Make Rainbow Beef: Step-by-Step Guide

Making Rainbow Beef at home is easier than you might think. Follow these simple steps to create a delicious and colorful dish that’s sure to impress your family and friends:


– 1 pound flank steak, sliced into thin strips

– 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

– 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips

– 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips

– 1 green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips

– 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 tablespoon ginger, minced

– 1/4 cup soy sauce

– 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

– 2 tablespoons honey

– 2 teaspoons cornstarch

– Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: Marinate the beef

In a mixing bowl, combine the sliced beef with minced garlic, minced ginger, soy sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Step 2: Stir-fry the vegetables

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and stir-fry for about 2 minutes until they start to soften. Then add the sliced bell peppers and continue to stir-fry for another 2 minutes until they are tender-crisp. Remove the vegetables from the wok and set aside.

Step 3: Cook the beef

Add a little more oil to the wok if needed, then add the marinated beef and stir-fry for about 3-4 minutes until it’s browned and cooked through.

Step 4: Make the sauce

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, honey, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt until smooth.

Step 5: Combine everything together

Add the cooked vegetables back into the wok with the beef. Pour in the sauce and stir everything together until it’s evenly coated. Continue to cook for another minute or two until the sauce thickens and becomes glossy.

Step 6: Serve hot!

Rainbow Beef is best served hot over steamed rice or noodles. Garnish with some chopped scallions or sesame seeds if desired.

There you have it – a simple yet delicious recipe for Rainbow Beef that you can make at home!

Tips For Perfecting Your Rainbow Beef Recipe

If you’re looking to make the perfect Rainbow Beef dish at home, here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Choose the right cut of beef: For this recipe, it’s important to choose a lean cut of beef like flank steak. This will ensure that the beef cooks quickly and stays tender.

2. Cut the beef against the grain: When cutting the beef into thin strips, be sure to cut against the grain. This will help to break down the muscle fibers and make the beef more tender.

3. Use fresh ingredients: To get the best flavor and texture, it’s important to use fresh ingredients like garlic, ginger, and shiitake mushrooms. Avoid using canned or pre-packaged ingredients whenever possible.

4. Don’t overcook the vegetables: When stir-frying the vegetables, be sure to cook them just until they’re tender-crisp. Overcooking them can result in mushy vegetables that don’t have as much flavor.

5. Use a flat-bottomed wok: A flat-bottomed wok is ideal for stir-frying because it allows you to cook ingredients evenly without any hot spots. If you don’t have a wok, a large skillet will work as well.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to create a delicious and authentic Rainbow Beef dish that’s sure to impress your family and friends.

Serving Suggestions For Rainbow Beef

Rainbow Beef is a versatile dish that can be served in a variety of ways. Here are some serving suggestions to make the most out of this delicious dish:

1. Over Rice: Rainbow Beef is traditionally served over steamed rice. The sticky glaze and tender beef pair perfectly with the fluffy rice, making it a filling and satisfying meal.

2. In Lettuce Wraps: For a lighter option, serve Rainbow Beef in lettuce wraps. Simply spoon the beef mixture onto a lettuce leaf and wrap it up like a taco. The crisp lettuce adds a refreshing crunch to the dish.

3. With Noodles: Rainbow Beef also goes well with noodles. Serve it over thick udon noodles or thin rice noodles for a delicious and comforting meal.

4. As an Appetizer: Rainbow Beef can also be served as an appetizer at parties or gatherings. Skewer the beef strips and serve them with the sticky glaze on the side for dipping.

No matter how you choose to serve it, Rainbow Beef is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Its sweet and savory flavors, combined with its colorful appearance, make it a delicious and visually appealing dish that’s perfect for any occasion.

Health Benefits Of Rainbow Beef

Rainbow Beef not only looks delicious, but it also provides a range of health benefits. The dish contains a variety of colorful vegetables, which are essential for maintaining a healthy diet.

Eating a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The different colors of fruits and vegetables represent different phytonutrients, which are natural compounds that have been shown to have beneficial effects on the body.

The bell peppers used in Rainbow Beef are particularly beneficial as they contain high levels of vitamin C, which is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. Additionally, shiitake mushrooms have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help to boost the immune system.

Moreover, Rainbow Beef is made with lean flank steak, which is a good source of protein. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues in the body, and it also helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied after a meal.