Shanghai Steak

I have so many favourite Chinese dishes but Shanghai Steak is definitely at the top end of the list and pairs perfectly with another much loved dish of  Egg Fu-Yong and fried rice.  What’s even better is that the recipes are straight forward and easy to prepare, which really helps when preparing a variety of dishes at once.

Shanghai Steak  2

Shanghai Steak


1kg steak thinly sliced
45ml cornstarch
120ml soy sauce
105ml sugar
180ml vinegar
360ml water
120ml oil
½ cup frozen peas thawed


  1. Marinate the steak in the cornstarch and soy sauce for 3 hours.
  2. Bring the sugar, vinegar, water and oil the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
    Add the steak and cook for 5 minutes or until tender.
  3. Add the peas and stir through and allow to heat through.

Submitted by:  Christine de Villiers, Port Elizabeth


44 thoughts on “Shanghai Steak

  1. It is amazing how I spent about an hour on Google looking for THIS specific Shanghai Steak recipe. Some recipes from all over the globe came close, but were not exact. Found it posted here by Christine who lives in Port Elizabeth South Africa. As do I! (The steak was delicious!!)

    • Hi CC, I am so pleased that you finally found the recipe you were looking for and that it is on my blog! Christine is my Aunt and any recipe from her is always perfect. PE is my home town too, however my husband and I are currently living in Mauritius. We are due home later this year. Looking forward to you visiting again soon.

  2. Hi Christine,

    Baie dankie vir jou resep. Ek soek dit al lank en sien alerhande ander resepte met dieselfde naam, maar waar is die ertjies. Ons het gewoonlik daar in Circular Drive Port Elizabeth ons Shanghai Steak gaan koop. Ons is reeds 5 jaar in Wes Australië en ek sien uit na ‘n bietjie Shanghai Steak. Het toevallig op jou resep afgekom en ek sal definitief môre gaan steak koop. Baie dankie!! 🙂

      • Hi Mandy, I tried the recipe but mine did not look like Michael’s 😦 It was very pale in coulour and I’m not sure if it is the soy sauce? I used a light soy sauce and brown vinegar. My steak tasted very strongly of vinegar and I had to add salt. The oil was also overwhelming. I used olive oil. Please tell me what I did wrong. Thank you, Sanette
        PS. (All my friend know I’m not the best cook, but I can follow a recipe to bake a cake) 🙂

        • Hi Sanette, I am so sorry to hear that it didn’t turn out how you were expecting. It’s very odd that your steak was very pale even though you used light soy sauce, soaking the steak for 3 hours should have changed the colour. Olive oil would definitely produce a different result and depending the olive oil you used, it could produce a very strong and distinctive flavour. I am not sure what vinegar you used, but if you used a wine or grape vinegar or the likes, that would also produce a very strong and distinctive flavour. I can only think that using different products in Australia to South Africa might also have contributed. If you send me a list of the products you used, maybe I can try and assist you further. 🙂

      • Hello Christine – regarding “Michael’s” on Circular Drive – is he still there coz i’m replying to your blog dated more than a year ago. Also, where in your opinion is the best ‘take away’ in PE – i’ve tried most of them but bitterly disappointed. I’m comparing them with the likes of the old “SILVER LANTERN” in Parliament Street – in the good old days. I am also trying my hand at cooking Chinese and the frustrating part is you need to be so quick and i find myself while cooking, looking for the right stuff, stumbling over dogs – phew, it is challenging. PLEASE help. thanks Falo


    • Hi Simone, many thanks for popping in. My apologies for the late response. We have just relocated back to SA. Cornstarch is Miazena. You can use a white or brown spirit vinegar and any brand of sunflower oil or grape seed oil. Please let me know if you need any more help and I would love to hear how you enjoy the Shanghai Steak. 🙂

  4. Dankie tog ek bly in die Kaap nou en is oorspronklik van PE. Ek het altyd my tv3 eggfuyoung chowmein and steak by Helens in Stebeneath road in Sydenham gekoop,ek kry dit glad nie hier in die Kaap nie baie dankie vir die resep . Nie een Chinese restaurant hier in die Kaap weet wat Shanghai steak is nie….ek weet wat ons gaan eet vandag!

    • Hi Leon, thanks for stopping by. My apologies for replying in English but there would be far too many errors in Afrikaans. I cannot believe that there aren’t any restaurants in Cape Town that don’t know what Shanghai steak is! Michaels on Circular Drive here in PE has a magnificent recipe for Shanghai steak – give them a try when you are next in PE. So pleased that you found this recipe so you can make it at home now. Have a super week. 🙂

  5. Thanks a bunch for the recipe, I am also a PE lad, but relocated to KZN a few years ago. It seems that Port Elizabeth is the only place in the country that produces stuff like hong kong chicken and shanghei steak… A travesty…

    I havnt tried it yet, but I have huge expectations for the recipe:)

  6. Hi, just like Luke I am a PE boy and have lived in Cape Town and now JHB and cannot find PE Shanghai Steak anywhere, it seems here it means boiled steak in gravy!! Yuk!! Also I can’t find Hong Kong chicken on a menu anywhere here so I am so grateful to find your recipe which I will now try. I have been bragging to my wife and kids about the Shanghai steak we used to get and how the local stuff is just no good!! When I saw you were from PE I knew I had the right recipe, thanks so much!

  7. This recipe was amazing!!!! I am Shanghainese and this is just like how my mom used to make it. This is the only recipe I could find on the Internet that exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much for posting it – it was delicious and perfect!!!

  8. I’m also one of those people who googled ‘Shanghai Steak’ to find your recipe and I’ll be doing it tonight…..many thanks for posting it. In the good old days we lived in PE and frequented the many Chinese restaurants there…please jog my memory as I can only recall The Lychee Garden. We loved there in the 70’s!!

    • Hi Lyn, welcome and thanks for stopping by. I’m so pleased you found what you were looking for. The best Chinese take-aways in PE is Michaels on Circular Drive. The other “old” one is the Silver Lantern on Cape Road. I’m not what the others are, sorry. Enjoy your Shanghai Steak and have a happy week ahead. 🙂

  9. Cooked this tonight…. Awesome…..but I increased the sugar by 30 ml…. Purely because of taste…I also fried the steak first in a wok for a few minutes before adding it to the sauce…..

  10. Hi I live in Hong Kong now, in the middle of all the Chinese folk! No-one here has any idea what Shanghai Steak is!!! Ha, ha!!! The beef is too tough and too expensive as it is all frozen from western countries! So, I use pork fillet! It tastes OK, but nothing like it used to be in S.A.!!! Thanks for the recipe! P.E. Chinese food is still the best ever! The local traditional Chinese food is “bland” and has very little taste generally! You need to go to an exotic Chinese restaurant here if you want really good tasting food and it is VERY expensive!!! Enjoy Michaels in Port Elizabeth!!! Still the best food ever!!! XXX

    • Hi Saronah, so lovely of you to pop by. What an experience it must be living in Hong Kong. My husband and I lived in Mauritius for 3 years so completely understand and appreciate what you say about food away from home and the cost although I must admit, a lot of Mauritian food is lovely. How lovely you always know Michaels. We live at Sundays River so its not very often we enjoy a take away meal. Have a wonderful week ahead. 🙂 xo

  11. Hi Mandy,
    I just made Shanghai Steak, Egg Foo-Yong and Fried Rice for dinner tonight, all from your recipes. The Egg Foo-Yong and Fried Rice turned out perfectly, but I was a bit disappointed in the Shanghai Steak and I’m wondering what I did wrong (could be a combination of things). The meat was dry and quite chewy. I seem to remember Shanghai Steak being very tender when I had it in PE. One mistake I suspect I made is that I cooked the syrup with a lid on the pot. Was it supposed to cook down to make a thicker syrup, before adding the steak? There was a great deal of liquid (I added a couple of tablespoons of cornflour at the end to thicken it a little). The meat may have been a bit too thickly sliced as well – I’m not sure. It was about the thickness of tenderised steak. I might try goulash meat next time. It also tasted a bit vinegary, but that may be because the syrup didn’t cook down. Overall, the flavour was pretty good, though. I did use spirit vinegar (after reading your advice to Sanette) and Canola oil (I’ve never seen Sunflower oil here in Australia).
    Any ideas on how I could make this work better next time? I really want to get this one right!

    • Hi Beth, I’m so sorry you didn’t have the best success with the steak. I’m not sure why the meat was dry but depending on the cut it could be chewy. When you make the recipe again, rather use rump, sirloin or fillet. The syrup must be cooked with the lid off and it should thicken when you add the steak from the cornstarch on the steak. Alternatively, do a “simpler” version of Shanghai steak by sprinkling the very thinly sliced steak with cornstarch and soy sauce and set a side for a while. Fry the steak in a very hot pan (in portions if you are cooking a lot) and then add slices of onion and peas and stir through for one minute. Maybe you will have better success that way. Please do let me know how you get along. Have a lovely weekend ahead and sending South African regards to you. 🙂 xo

  12. Great recipe!!! Tried it and it tasted exactly like Michael’s! Made the mistake of adding some extra cornstarch without mixing with water but was able to fix it! Wont be doing that again lol!

  13. Hi Mandy, thanks so much for this recipe and the Hong Kong chicken! Been away from Uitenhage for 28 years now and can’t wait to try these recipes! I went to Riebeek College with a girl who’s parents owned a Chinese takeaway and they did the best Shanghai steak so here’s hoping I can recreate it. So glad to have found your site and will be an avid follower from now on! Mooi Bly! X

    • Hi Adele, thanks for stopping by and for your lovely comment. I do hope you enjoy the shanghai steak and Hong Kong Chicken – I haven’t made either in a while so thank you for the reminder. Have a wonderful day from a very windy Sundays River. 🙂 xo

  14. in the 70s my friends and I would regularly have lunch at the Hong Kong Restaurant in Port Elizabeth. Their food was amazing and although I have so tried to replicate their Shanghai Steak recipe something was never quite right. I tried your recipe last night and wow I have finally found the perfect recipe. Thank you so much.

  15. Hi Mandy. Lived in PE for my first 24 years. Moved to East Londen and then Jhb but could never find a chinese food restaurant or take-away to compete with the old Hong Kong Restaurant off Main Street before it closed, then Silver Lantern and then Michaels. When in East London we used to make a trip there every time we visited. Been in New Zealand for 5 years and have tried tons of places – nowhere near the Hong Kong chicken or Shanghai steak. Eventually found your recipe for Shanghai steak. You have improved my life ! As close to Michaels as I will get. Thank you.

    • Hi Royden, I am so pleased you stumbled your way over here and found the recipe. Michael’s is still going strong and still looks exactly the same! Best wishes to you in New Zealand from a chilly Sundays River. 🙂

  16. Michael’s Takeaway had a huge facelift but quality and style remained the same. Enjoyed it again last night. JJB from PE

  17. I lived in PE many years ago and a regular fortnight treat was to go to the Three Pagodas and get a couple of Shanghai steak TV tray take aways. When I saw this recipe I could almost taste it again. Definitely going to cook it up with the egg foo yung and fried rice to make a full on retro Chinese meal.
    Thanks Christine, good memories and times.

Don't be shy, leave a reply. :-)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s