Mongolian Beef is the signature dish of many Chinese and other Asian restaurants. This easily customized version of the dish is simplified with Chinese ingredients for flavor, an international selection of peppers for optional spiciness and extended with a variety of vegetables for a delicious, fresh and colorful main course. Served with rice noodles or steamed rice, the soft meat, and crunchy vegetables provides an interesting and flavorful meal for your family or a group of visiting friends.
Select the protein ingredients you'll use, whether basic flank steak, a fancier cut of beef up to filet mignon, chicken, shrimp or a combination of all three. You can set them out with a simple garnish, or serve them with rice or noodles and your choice of vegetables. It's a dish many people never tire of. With cayenne, red peppers or other heat added, it's particularly memorable.
Mongolian beef is traditionally prepared using flank steak, cut against the grain in thin slices of about 1/4 inch. For special meals, you can use filet mignon, sirloin or another fairly tender cut -- just not tough cuts like stew beef. Prepare chicken the same way. Shrimp, cleaned, will be cooked separately if it is included. Total meat, about three pounds.
Fresh ingredients give the dish the wild, vibrant flavor it's known for. Mince a teaspoon of fresh ginger and a tablespoon of garlic, cut about 10 ounces of mushrooms into bite-sized chunks, slice a quarter of a red onion and cut lengths of scallion of an inch or two, about a bunch worth. You can add other veggies such as sliced bell peppers, celery, or carrots depending on your taste and what's available.
With two tablespoons of peanut oil, simmer the garlic and ginger for a couple of minutes. Carefully add a half cup of water, another of soy sauce, a quarter cup of brown sugar and a tablespoon of hoisin sauce. Whisk to blend the hoisin and sugar in and simmer on medium-low for a few minutes until it's smooth, then take off the heat and keep it handy.
Fry the meat(s) at medium heat in a cup of peanut oil, sprinkled on both sides with cornstarch before cooking. Use a large frying pan to cook the strips in a single layer for about five minutes a side, but not thoroughly just yet. Leave a bit for the final round, so the meat remains tender at the finish.
For lighter, more diverse flavor add some seafood to the mix. Cook the pound of cleaned shrimp separately on medium heat in a fresh skillet, stirring them actively until they are roundly pink. Give the batch a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for bite if you like. Take them out and set them aside by the sauce, saving the frying pan for the grand finale.
For diners who are ready for a more robust dish, you can spice up the mixture before the final round. If you do and you serve with a starch, serve them separately so that people can moderate the heat by alternating bites. Add more cayenne pepper, sriracha, or sliced red peppers to increase the heat.
Add the cooked meat to the skillet you last used and finish cooking it for about seven minutes, adding the shrimp and mushroom pieces during the last couple of minutes. Add the sauce and simmer a few minutes more. Mix in the rest of the vegetables leaving them raw and crunchy and get ready to serve with a starch or in a serving dish for family-style meals.
Prepare white rice steamed or boiled according to package directions, use brown rice if you prefer, or serve with rice noodles from vermicelli to thicker and flat variations on this popular Asian starch. You can serve the beef mixture on top to let the sauce combine, or keep the rice or noodles separate to help quench the spiciness if you choose to add it.
If you're preparing this Mongolian beef recipe without veggies for a family-style table of dishes. You can slice lengths of scallion, pieces of bell pepper or florets of broccoli as garnishes to add color. Red wines with a fruity flavor such as Zinfandel or white wines such as Riesling go well with the meats and veggies and echo the earthy sweet sauce.
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