For many, trying to replicate a Mongolian Beef recipe is a daunting prospect, so they opt for takeout instead. There’s nothing wrong with that from time to time, but there’s so much fun and reward in creating a warming dish with great depth of flavor from your kitchen at home.
Origins of Mongolian Beef
Contrary to its name, Mongolian Beef actually originated outside of Mongolia. The cooking method is traditional to Taiwan, from there the stir-fried dish made its way into American-Chinese restaurants. Mongolian Beef is currently a popular takeout for many American families, carrying eastern flavors into western homes.
What is Mongolian Beef?
Mongolian beef is a sweet and slightly spicy dish usually served with rice. It’s a Chinese specialty that incorporates the sliced beef cut, a crispy coating, and a velvety sauce. By reducing soy sauce together with brown sugar and cornstarch, you can create a pleasant sweetness that balances the salty soy sauce.
A quintessential step in the traditional Mongolian beef recipe is velveting. This involves coating the beef with cornstarch to preserve its moisture while also maintaining the flavor and thickness of the sauce.
Tips for Making Mongolian Beef
Don’t let the pile of ingredients scare you— Mongolian Beef is actually easy to make. But, a few steps before cooking the beef will help you achieve the ideal tender texture. So we’ve picked out some tips to help you prepare this Mongolian Beef dish.
If using a tougher beef cut, wrap it in cling film and flatten it with a rolling pin to tenderize. Or use a meat hammer to accomplish a similar, softer outcome. Then proceed to cut the beef against the grain to make it more tender and easier to chew.
The key to preserving the moisture in the meat is the velveting technique where you coat it with cornstarch. As the beef fries, it loses water. Coating it significantly reduces moisture loss from the beef.
We also recommend using a large frying pan, as overcrowding leads to sticky beef pieces that are hard to separate. Another way to avoid this is to fry the meat in batches.
Lastly, avoid overcooking the meat as a dry and tough result is unappealing, and defeats the object of all the prior steps in ensuring a tender Mongolian beef outcome.
How to Make Mongolian Beef
There are two main parts to successfully achieve this Mongolian Beef recipe, namely, the crispy beef and velveted sauce:
Crisping – Start by deep-frying the coated beef to achieve a rich and crusted texture. Make sure the oil is at a high temperature. This way, you’ll spend less time cooking the beef, and the shorter the cooking time, the lower the oil absorption, giving you a lower calorie count.
Velveting – To hero the dish, create a thick sauce from the velveted beef by including cornstarch in the mixture. Reduce the sauce at a high temperature. Finally, add the beef and vegetables to complete the velveted sauce.
What Makes Mongolian Beef Healthy?
The main source of nutrients in this Mongolian Beef recipe is red meat, which boosts iron intake— necessary for promoting healthy red blood cells and preventing anemia.
Furthermore, beef tenderloin is lean meat that serves only 9g of fats, with 3.5g belonging to saturated fats. It is, therefore, a great source of low-fat protein that will benefit your body strength. As a source of Vitamin B3 (Niacin), beef provides 70% of the recommended daily intake. Niacin aids your digestive system by helping convert food to energy in your body.
In addition to preserving the moisture of the beef, we also reduce the oil uptake during deep-frying. Coating the beef with cornstarch efficiently reduces water loss, which in turn reduces oil absorption and results in a lower calorie meal.
Can You Substitute Ingredients?
If the beef tenderloin isn’t readily available, use flank or sirloin steak which are both just as tender and easy to cook.
For those who prefer white meat, we suggest going for a lean cut of pork loin which is equally tender.
Steering further from the traditional recipe, to reduce the sodium content, you can replace the soy sauce with chicken stock. Try substituting only half of the soy sauce to maintain the dark, velvety presentation.
You may also substitute cornstarch for flour. It will most likely result in a thicker sauce but will maintain the overall taste of the traditional Mongolian Beef dish.
Lastly, if the recipe turns out to be too sweet for your taste, you can cut down the sugar. But keep in mind that the sweetness from the sugar balances the saltiness of the soy sauce.
What Should You Serve With Mongolian Beef?
The rich, sweet and salty flavors of Mongolian Beef go well with simple side dishes that help to balance the spiciness of the beef. A cucumber and mayonnaise salad for example, adds a complementary balance of moisture and coolness. Taste, texture and nutritional content, make it enough to complete this delicious dish without taking away from the flavors of the Mongolian beef. You can round off this meal with a simple beverage like some healthy Carrot Juice that is both beneficial and low-calorie.
|Recipes||Course||Calories (kcal)||Saturated Fat (g)||Sodium (mg)|
|Mongolian Beef||Main dish||480||4||567|
|Cucumber Salad||Side dish||165||2.7||253|
|Carrot Orange Pineapple Juice||Beverage||89||0||40.2|
Mongolian Beef Recipe
- 10 oz beef tenderloin thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 4 oz broccoli florets halved
- 2 oz carrots sliced
- 1 cup soybean oil (*)
- 1 tsp ginger minced
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 2 tsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp lite soy sauce
- 1 tbsp premium dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp white wine
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 6 tbsp unsalted chicken broth
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 oz green bell pepper sliced
- 1 oz scallions chopped
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 3 cups cooked medium-grain rice equal to 1 cup uncooked
- Holding your knife at a 45° angle, slice the beef against the grain (across the muscle lines) into ¼ inch thick pieces.
- Coat the beef with cornstarch and leave it to sit for at least 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and add broccoli and carrots. Cook for 4 minutes until just tender. Remove from heat and drain water from the vegetables.
- Add 1 cup of soybean oil to a large wok or deep pot. Heat at high temperature and dip in a chopstick to check for readiness. If it sizzles, add the beef and fry each batch for 30-40 seconds at high heat. Avoid overcrowding the wok. (Depending on the size of the wok, each batch may be 1/2 or 1/3 of the beef.) Remove from the heat and leave to drain. Remove oil from the pan, leaving 1 tablespoon.
- Mix the chicken broth and cornstarch until dissolved to make a cornstarch mixture. Set aside.
- Heat the frying pan with oil at high heat for 30 seconds. Immediately add ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds until garlic starts to turn brown.
- Add lite soy sauce, dark soy sauce, white vinegar, and hoisin sauce to the pan. Stir for 30 seconds then add brown sugar and stir for another 30 seconds until it dissolves.
- Add the beef and bell pepper and stir fry for 1 minute. Then add the cornstarch mixture and white wine, stir it and add the cooked vegetables and scallions. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until well coated with the sauce.
- Finally, add the red pepper flakes and sesame seeds and stir to evenly distribute.
- Remove from heat and serve over rice.