If you think Mongolian beef is Mongolian cuisine, think again.
You won’t find Mongolian beef in Mongolia. The local will dumbfound and not knowing what do you mean.
But Mongolian beef goes beyond that.
There is an array of world cuisine bear the name of a country since people want to associate the flavor and cooking style to the country of origin.
Chefs and food writers have a mix of opinion on the origin of the name Mongolian beef. Mongolia is a remote region. Many American have the faintest idea of how Mongolian cuisine tastes like. The American Chinese chefs thought that a dish with an exotic name would sell well in the restaurant. Once the name was created, it stuck with it forever until today.
As a result, there isn’t any authentic method to prepare the Mongolian beef. So instead of searching for the original recipe, I have gone through a series of tests searching for the best way to bring out the flavor and texture of this American Chinese dish.
The following sections explain how to prepare Mongolian beef in detail, and the rationale behind each step.
Six simple steps to cook the perfect Mongolian beef
1. Use the right cut of beef
Mongolian beef is prepared with a quick stir-frying process. Therefore, suitable cuts of beef should be tender. Certainly, it should also be without too much fat, and no bone attached. You can use tenderloin or sirloin for the best result. Beef chuck and flank are the cheaper alternatives.
- Cut the beef into very thin slices. Since this is a very quick cooking process. The meat will contract and become thicker when you cook them.
- Since it is easy to slice partially frozen beef, I normally froze the beef the night before, and let it defrost at room temperature the next morning. Once the beef is soft enough for cutting, slice it immediately, and you will have the thinnest pieces of beef possible.
2. Marinate the beef for better flavor
It is common to marinate the beef with soy sauce, cornflour, and occasionally with wine. Some recipes include eggs to make the beef taste velvety.
I prefer to marinate the beef with some oil, cornflour and light soy sauce. The gravy of Mongolian beef will provide other flavors to the beef eventually.
Marinate the beef for twenty minutes should be sufficient as the slices of beef are thin and small.
3. Coat the beef with my special dry coating mix
The method to prep to beef according to most of the recipes is to mix the beef with cornflour, and then deep-fried.
My method is to use a combination of three items to coat the beef before deep-frying. This is also my formula to coat the chicken in the General Tso’s chicken recipe. The usage of each of these ingredients is as follow:
- Normal wheat flour. It provides the volume of for the coating, so it is enough to form a thin layer to protect the beef from the direct heat of the hot oil, hence will result in the beef that is most.
- Cornstarch. Increase the crispiness of the coating.
- Salt. Important to improve the flavor.
The advantage of my special mix over just cornstach
You will also anticipate that the beef will be slightly crispy, and that is why I do not stir-fry it with the sauce for a long time. Instead, I only flash fry the (actually is to mix in the gravy) for just ten seconds.
Cooks in the modern kitchen uses a dedicated deep-fryer for this purpose. You can also deep-fry it in a deep saucepan if you are cooking in a small western kitchen.
This combination is amazing because it is crunchy and not hard like the biscuit, even after half an hour after deep-frying. The magical balance of the four simple ingredients in the flour mix is perfectly suitable for Mongolian beef. It is used in this formula and proudly to say it turns out better than many similar dry coating from cookbooks and chefs.
4. The best gravy for the Mongolian beef
I use the following ingredients for the Mongolian beef.
Soy sauce. I am using Chiese light and dark soy sauce in my recipe. Chinese light soy sauce tends to be salty, while the Chinese dark soy sauce has a caramelized flavor. Japanese soy sauce and the Indonesian sweet soy sauce (kicap manis) are not suitable for this recipe.
Sugar. The amount of sugar of Mongolian beef is higher than many other authentic Chinese dishes. In general, most of the American Chinese foods are sweeter than their counterpart in Asia. The larger quantity of sugar helps to caramelize and thicken the sauce, which means less cornflour slurry is required for thickening,
Mongolian beef is Closely related to other stir-fry dishes
There are a few stir-fried recipes on this blog which is closely related to Mongolian beef. These are stir fry beef with ginger and scallion （薑葱牛肉）, Mongolian beef (蒙古牛肉), General Tso’s chicken (左宗棠雞) and Sweet and sour chicken (咕嚕肉).
The major difference among these dishes is the gravy. In a nutshell, Mongolian beef is sweeter than stir-fry beef with ginger and scallion and does not include tomato ketchup as in sweet and sour chicken.
The following is the summary of the gravy for these recipes. dishes. You can access these recipes by clicking the links. If you like Mongolian beef, chances are you will also like these related stir0frying dishes.
- Mongolian beef: Light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, Shaoxing wine (optional), dried red chili (optional).
- General Tso’s chicken: Dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, rice vinegar sugar, sesame oil, tomato paste, cornstarch.
- Sweet and sour chicken: Tomato ketchup, chili sauce 40g, plum sauce, sugar, lemon juice., salt.
- Beef Stir Fry With Ginger And Scallion: Oyster sauce, light soy sauce, sugar, salt, ground white pepper.
5. Flash-fried for ten seconds
The final step is to combine the gravy and the beef. Flip and mix for ten seconds.
One common mistake of making this dish is adding too much cornflour slurry. It turns the gravy into a gooey mass. I do not use cornstarch to thicken the gravy in this recipe. Once the gravy is cooked down, it is already thick enough to cling on to the beef to form a shiny sheen.
Simple tips for cooking the best Mongolian beef
Here are my final thought and summary before I conclude this post on how to dish out the toothsome Mongolian beef.
- Use the tender cut of the beef.
- Marinate to get let the soy sauce and cornflour to absorb.
- The gravy should be thick enough to cling on to the surface.
- Do not use too much sugar in the recipe. I find that most of the recipes tend to be too sweet. I have reduced the amount in my recipe accordingly.
- Use plenty of scallions. Scallions will never be too much for Mongolian beef!
- Be prudent when you add cornflour slurry. Since the sauce contains sugar and dark soy sauce which acts as the thickener, you may not need cornflour slurry unless you add too much water to the sauce.
The Mongolian beef recipe
Ingredients A (beef)
- 300 g beef, (sirloin, tenderloin, chuck)
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
Ingredients B (Coating powder)
- 2 tablespoons wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Ingredients C (aromatics)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 20 g ginger, coarsely chopped
- 3 pieces dry red chili, , cut into short pieces]
- 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Ingredients D (Gravy)
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce]
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (optional)
- 4 tablespoons water
Ingredients E (Others)
- 2 stalks scallion, , cut to 3cm long on the diagonal
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch slurry, , constitute with 1 tsp of cornstarch with 1 tbsp of water
- vegetable oil for deep-frying
- Cut the beef into thin slices. Marinate with the rest of the ingredient A for 15 minutes.
- Coat the marinated beef with ingredient (B). Deep-fried the beef slices in hot oil for two minutes. Remove and drained.
- Saute the rest of the ingredients (C) with oil until they turn fragrant.
- Add ingredients (D) and wait until it returns to a boil.
- Add the cornflour slurry to thicken the gravy.
- Add the beef and scallion. Flash fry for ten seconds. Serve.
Serving Size:2 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1169 Total Fat: 76g Saturated Fat: 23g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 42g Cholesterol: 217mg Sodium: 2469mg Carbohydrates: 48g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 14g Protein: 71g