The next time you're craving Mongolian beef in that savory-sweet and glossy sauce, skip the trip to the restaurant and make this popular dish in the comfort of your own kitchen—this version is super easy, and healthier, too!
The Search for Mongolian Beef Leads Me... Home?
What is Mongolian Beef, and what makes it so popular?
This particular dish has everything we love about Chinese-American cuisine; and when done just right, it's perfectly sweet and savory, slightly spicy and loaded with lots delicious aromatics such as ginger, garlic, green onions and even a few dried red chilis, all combined to bring a nice pop of deep, fragrant flavor.
Often times when my husband and I get a hankering for a little meal out but can't quite get our cravings aligned, we can pretty much always settle on our favorite little Asian restaurant about fifteen minutes from home.
It isn't a fancy place at all, and some would argue that it's not necessarily even all that authentic, but that's alright with us. The food is always hot, delicious and flavorful, the service super friendly, and we've yet to encounter a time we haven't enjoyed ourselves when we go.
This place has a extensive menu, and I must say I love to sample something different as often as I can.
And for years I'd been wanting to try Mongolian beef, a dish that a lot of big-name Asian restaurant chains usually offer. But I discovered that our favorite place actually didn't have that on their menu!
So of course that meant that I would have to put my own Mongolian beef recipe together (after doing a little research), so that I could finally enjoy this popular restaurant entree, and see for myself why folks love it so much!
Mongolian Beef, Made from Scratch!
I find that when I crave Asian food, I'm either looking for something light, fresh and healthy; or something more indulgent, like a crispy, saucy and flavorful meat dish, served over a bed of rice or noodles.
And Mongolian beef is definitely a great representation of the latter.
For my Mongolian beef recipe, I found that using flank steak is indeed the best option; because it's tender and sears up quickly in a hot cast-iron skillet, the next best thing when one doesn't have a wok.
And then to give this dish its signature flavorful glossiness, I prepared a simple sauce with a bit of soy, hoisin, and brown sugar to drizzle over top as a finisher.
It turns out that Mongolian beef is a tasty meal that one doesn't really need to visit an Asian restaurant to enjoy, because it's actually quite quick and easy to prepare at home, which is still the best place to enjoy a spectacular meal!
Mongolian Beef Recipe
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 423 calories
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, sliced very thinly against the grain on the bias into about 1 1/2” strips
- Black pepper
- 1/4 cup (heaping) cornstarch
- Vegetable oil (I like avocado or peanut), about 6 tablespoons total
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 5 dried red chilis
- 2 teaspoons garlic, pressed through garlic press (about 4 large cloves)
- 4 green onions, sliced on the bias into 1” long pieces
- Rice, to serve on the side, if desired
- To prepare your sauce, whisk together the hoisin sauce, the soy sauce, the brown sugar and the water; set aside.
- Toss the sliced flank steak with a couple of pinches of salt and black pepper, plus the the cornstarch; set aside while you heat your pan.
- Place a wok, cast-iron skillet or other heavy-bottom pan over high heat, and drizzle in about 4 tablespoon of the oil; once smoking hot, add in some of the flank steak (working in batches) in an even layer and sear, undisturbed, on that first side for a couple of minutes; flip and sear on the other side, until the steak has a brown crust; remove and hold on a large plate, and repeat with the rest of the steak.
- Reduce the heat under the pan to medium-low now (as it will be very hot), and add about 2 tablespoons more of the oil; then, add in the dried red chilis and stir to fry those up for about 30 seconds; then, add in the ginger and the garlic, and stir together for about 30 seconds until aromatic.
- Add in the beef and stir to coat it in the mixture for about 30 seconds, then add in sliced green onions, and the sauce, and toss everything together to coat and become hot for about 30 seconds more.
- Serve family style over a bed of white rice, or spoon onto a platter and serve separately with rice or noodles.
Tips & Tidbits for Mongolian Beef:
- Tender cut of beef: Flank steak cut against the grain (on the bias) is a great pick for this recipe; but you can use sirloin, or any other quick-cooking beef. (Avoid stew meat, as it is tough.)
- Choose your spiciness level: Because the dried red chilis are left whole, they don't add a huge amount of heat to the dish unless you bite directly into them; but feel free to leave these out if cooking for folks with a sensitive palate.
- Get that pan super hot: Because you don't want to make the beef tough, make sure the skillet is very, very hot; this way, when you add in a batch of the steak, it can begin to caramelize quickly and you can remove it from the pan.
- Don't overcrowd the pan: Work in smaller batches with the beef so as to not overcrowd the pan and cause the meat to steam, robbing it of that crispiness.