This is an authentic Taiwanese sa cha beef over rice dish, with tender beef, spinach, and onion sautéed with a special sa cha sauce. This is a family recipe that I got from my dad, who often made this (and many other Taiwanese dishes) during my childhood. This is one of the dishes that I remember as one of my favorites, because I love savory sauces with meat and mixed in with steamed rice.
The sauce makes all the difference in this dish. Really, it’s all about this unique sa cha sauce, which is paste-like and made from soybean oil, brill fish, shrimp, garlic, and shallots. It is not salty at all (so it doesn’t compete with soy sauce or other seasonings) and has a hint of spiciness to it. It’s quite a unique taste. Note that this is not at all similar taste-wise to peanut-based satay sauces that are popular in Malaysian and Indonesian dishes.
To make this dish, you’ll need the gold standard of sa cha sauces: the Bullhead “barbecue sauce.” It comes in a can filled with the paste and oil, so you mix everything up to get a chunky sauce. I picked this up at Hmart, which is a local Asian grocery chain. You can also get this sauce on Amazon.
Once you have the sauce, the rest of the dish is easy. You just have to cook up some beef, onion, and spinach, and then mix everything with the sauce and pour over rice. Simple and delicious. And there are no seasonings added — no salt or pepper or anything like that. The sa cha sauce by itself has a lot of flavor.
I like cooking the rice before I make this dish. I’ll add rice to my rice cooker and turn it on, so that the rice cooks and is finished by the time I’m done making the sa cha beef. Then I’ll pour the sa cha beef with sauce over the rice, and mix everything together with chopsticks or a fork. Yum!
Taiwanese sa cha beef over rice
- 13 ounces beef thinly sliced
- 1 sweet onion chopped
- 7 tablespoons Bullhead "Barbecue Sauce"
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 cups cooked white rice
- Heat cooking oil in a large, high-sided pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add beef and stir until cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the beef to a plate and set aside.
- Keep the same pan, including any liquid exuded from cooking the beef, and heat it over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook until they are translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the Bullhead sauce, spinach, reserved beef, and water. Stir everything together until the spinach is cooked and everything is well-mixed.
- Pour the beef sa cha sauce over cooked rice, or keep them separate until ready to serve.