MONGOLIAN BEEF is thinly sliced pieces of tender beef stir fried with onions served in a thick sweet and savory sauce, served over a bed of steamed rice.
Contrary to the name, Mongolian Beef is not actually a dish originating from Mongolian cuisine. It is a Chinese-American dish, often served in Chinese takeout restaurants across the US. While it may not be an “authentic” Chinese dish, it is very tasty and popular, and happens to be one of my favorite Chinese beef dishes. Mongolian Beef tends to have a sweet and savory flavor, but I prefer mine to err on the side of savory, with just a touch of sweet from the mirin (Japanese sweet wine).
Cornstarch is used to dust the meat before cooking to help tenderize it and seal in the juices. It also helps to thicken the sauce, making it easier to coat the meat and vegetables.
The recipe calls for beef flap meat, but I find that flank or skirt steak also work quite well. I like the flap meat because it is cheaper, and just as good, as flank steak. Cut the beef into thin, bite size pieces. Cutting the meat against the grain helps to keep it tender by slicing through the muscle fibers. If you’d like to learn a little more about cutting meat against the grain, check out this post by The Kitchn. Combine marinade ingredients in a dish and add beef. Mix well and refrigerate overnight.
Mix sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Heat duck fat in a wok pan over high heat until smoking. I use duck fat for its high smoke point and umami flavor, but any fat such as vegetable oil, pork fat, peanut oil or coconut oil will do – just be sure it has a high smoking point. I use this wok style pan instead of an actual wok because it is light and easy to handle, plus heats up well over my limited power gas stove.
Drain any excess liquid from the beef and lightly dust with cornstarch while pan is heating. Cook beef in two batches for about 1-2 minutes, or until juices run clear. Remove beef with a slotted spoon and set aside. The beef is cooked in 2 batches to ensure the pan remains very hot. Otherwise, you end up simmering the beef in its own juices, which causes it to toughen. Nobody wants that!
Add onions and peppers and stir fry 1-2 minutes, ensuring onions retain their crunch. Then add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute.
Add the green onions and beef (reserve a portion of green onions for garnish). Then add the sauce mixture and cook for about 2 minutes, or until sauce has thickened.
Serve the Mongolian Beef over white rice or crispy noodles and garnish with green onions.
How do you like to make your Mongolian beef? What do you think of this recipe? Do you prefer your dish sweeter, or erring on the savory side?